By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter @_MikeSullivan
Terry O’Reilly. The true embodiment of the “Big Bad Bruins” moniker, O’Reilly would spend all fourteen seasons of his professional playing career with the Boston Bruins organization. During that time, Terry would rack up quite a few points, penalty minutes, and memories to go around Boston for a lifetime.
Dubbed “Taz,” a reference to the Tasmanian devil, Terry O’Reilly was known as one of the greatest enforcers, not only of his era but of all time. The Ontario native once had five-consecutive seasons of 200-plus penalty minutes. His career high came in the 1979-1980 season, where he totaled 265 penalty minutes in 71 games. Even with that time spent in the box that season, still, O’Reilly managed to post 61 points.
Terry’s game wasn’t only about dropping the gloves, laying big hits, and intimidation. He also had a scoring touch that most enforcers of that era simply didn’t possess. He never broke the 30-goal mark, but he was always an offensive threat averaging around 45-50 points a season.
Taz’s best point production season came in 1977-1978, where he amassed 90 points in 77 games. He also had 211 penalty minutes during that stretch. Terry is a two-time NHL All-Star in the years 1975 and 1978. He won the Seventh Player Award in 1975 and has his jersey retired by the Boston Bruins. He’s one of 47 players in NHL history to reach 2,000 penalty minutes in his career, holding the Bruins franchise record for most penalty minutes. He also served as Bruins Captain in the two seasons before his retirement.
After hanging them up, Terry remained in the Boston Bruins’ organization as the team’s head coach in 1986 and served that role until 1989. During that stretch, he took the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Final in 1988, where they ultimately fell to Wayne Gretzky and the powerhouse that was the Edmonton Oilers.
Terry described Milan Lucic as his favorite current NHL player in an interview. Therefore, one would assume Milan Lucic’s style of play attracted Terry. They were similar players in their demeanor and how they protected teammates and could be relied on offensively.
Of course, the infamous Madison Square Garden incident has to be mentioned. The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers found themselves in a post-game scrum along the glass at the buzzer. Everything was normal until a fan reached over the glass and smacked Stan Jonathan in the face. O’Reilly saw this, and his primal instinct of protecting those wearing the same sweater as you kicked in. Terry climbed up the boards, over the glass, and repeatedly beat on this fan until his General Manager, Harry Sinden, stepped in and broke it up.
Terry wasn’t the only Bruin in the stands that day. Mike Milbury also joined the fray, taking off a fans shoe and repeatedly smacking the man with his footwear. Milbury said. “I just grabbed at his leg, I don’t know what I was doing, and I pulled his shoe off and double pumped and hit him on the thigh.”
Terry O’Reilly should and will always be remembered as an all-time Boston Bruin. He embodied everything you think of when reminiscing on that era of the “Big Bad Bruins.” The ferocity he would bring into the game was unmatched and would force opposing teams to be wary while he was on the ice. Twenty-four days ladies and gentlemen.
We’re inching closer and closer as each day passes. So many storylines to watch this season. How will the youth do under Montgomery? Will the Bruins survive without Marchand, McAvoy, and Grzelcyck? Will a number one goalie emerge? Is Jake DeBrusk going to break out? How will Zacha fit in? So many questions will be answered in the coming weeks. Twenty-Four days, let’s go!