By Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
Many right wings have laced up the skates and donned the Bruins’ sweater since the inception of the Original Six team in 1924. It’s arguably the position with the most successful, well-known Boston players.
Picking the all-time greatest right wing is not easy if you consider more than just scoring. However, the list can be extensive, from Hall of Famers to fan favorites that embraced the Big, Bad Bruins persona.
There are players with their number hanging from the rafters in the Garden, along with wingers that may not have had longevity in Boston, but the impact they made was historical.
Hall of Famers Dit Clapper and Bobby Bauer would certainly be in the top 10. Mark Recchi, Nathan Horton, Michael Ryder, and enforcer Shawn Thornton helped the black and gold win their first Stanely Cup in 39 years, but they weren’t the best in a Bruins uniform.
So, who are the top 5?
5. Terry O’Reilly
Known for his physical presence, all-time penalty minutes leader (2095), Terry “Taz” O’Reilly was a warrior on the ice for the Bruins, not only protecting his teammates but being an offensive threat in front of the net as well.
His 14-year NHL career, all spent in Boston, was highlighted by the 1977-78 season when O’Reilly recorded 90-points (29G, 61A) while serving 211 PIM. O’Reilly sits 10th in Bruins history with 402 assists.
Following his playing career, O’Reilly served as head coach for Boston from 1986-87 to 1988-89. His number 24 was raised to the rafters in 2002.
4. Ken Hodge
Ken Hodge was an intrical part of the Bruins, winning two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972.
During his nine years with Boston, his best offensive season came in 1970-71, when he tallied 43 goals and 62 assists for 105 points.
That same year Hodge finished third in league scoring behind teammates Phil Esposito (145) and Bobby Orr (122).
Before he was traded to the Rangers for Rick Middleton, Hodge played in 652 games for Boston holding many top-10 spots in Bruins history, such as goals (289), points (674), power-play goals (80), and game-winning goals (47).
3. David Pastrnak
In eight years, David Pastrnak has only played one complete 82-game season, but the 26-year-old has propelled himself to an elite right wing, not just for the Bruins but in the league.
In the Covid-shortened 2019-2020 season, Pastrnak was on pace to his first 50-goal season finishing with 48 in 70 games. That same season, Pastrnak had a career-high 47 assists for 95-points.
Pastrnak has 240 goals and 264 assists in 510 games for the Bruins and is a proven powerhouse on the man-advantage with 165 points (83G, 82A).
Pastrnak has one year left on his current contract, and the rumors are swirling he’ll be signing an extension in the range of 8 years, giving him the opportunity to break many Bruins’ records in the process.
2. Rick Middleton
You can argue that Rick Middleton is the best right wing in Bruins history, given the numbers he put up during the 12 years he wore the black and gold sweater.
His 25 short-handed goals were tops in Bruins history until Brad Marchand passed him with 33 in the 2021-2022 season.
Nicknamed “Nifty,” Middleton sits in third place for all-time goals (402) and fifth in points (898). He scored at least 40 goals in five straight seasons, with his best being 51 in 1981-82. He added two 100-point seasons in 1980-81 (103) and again in 1983-84 (105). The 105-point season is a Bruin record held to this day by Middleton and Hodge.
The Bruins retired his number 16 in 2018.
1. Cam Neely
Known for not only his ability to score but his willingness to be physical made current Bruins President Cam Neely one of the best power forwards in the NHL from the mid-80s to mid-90s.
Neely potted 50 goals in his first 44 games played in the 1993-94 season. It was the third time Neely had reached the 50-goal mark in his career. Previously, he recorded 55 goals in 1989-90 and 51 in 1990-91.
Neely and the fans of Boston were left to wonder what could have been when Neely’s career was cut short due to a nagging knee injury following multiple hits to the lower body during the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Finals.
After multiple attempts to come back and play in just 49 games in the 1993-94 season, earned Neely the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for Qualities of Perseverance and Sportsmanship.
Neely recorded 344 goals and 246 assists in 525 games for the Bruins over ten years before retiring in 1996.
Neely was the prototypical power forward, the ultimate Bruin to most Boston fans, and because of one play, Ulf Samuelsson became the most hated player to those same fans.