By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
When you look at the history of captains for the Boston Bruins, names like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Raymond Bourque jump right out at you whether you are a new or lifelong fan. Other names fans will remember to include are Joe Thorton, John Bucyk, and Terry O’Reilly.
One player fans may not remember is actually the oldest living captain, Ed Sandford. Sandford,94, played for the Boston from 1947 until he was traded to Detroit after the 1955 season.
“I was mad as hell when they traded me,” Sandford recalled.
At the time, only six teams were still in the NHL, and Boston goaltender Jim Henry told the Bruins brass he was retiring.
“In those days, the goalies practiced for 90 minutes every day without the chance of getting a glass of water, and they wore him down,” Sandford explained. “The goalie for Detroit (Terry Sawchuk) was a mental case by that time, and that’s who the Bruins got for me.
“When I played (Detroit) in the playoffs, my line scored eight or nine goals against their best players, so they wanted me in the deal. I didn’t want to go, but I had to go. That was the end for me. I said, ‘I’m getting out of hockey.’ I just didn’t want it anymore.”
Sandford remembers his years as a hockey player fondly. But even though he says he wasn’t much of a goal scorer.
“Not everyone can be a big scorer,” he said. “You have to have guys that can play defense and take care of penalties, those types of things. So, I filled in for them on faceoffs and all that stuff.”
Sandford may not believe he was a goal scorer, but in the 1953 playoffs, Sandford and his linemates were a dominant force in the offensive zone, with Sandford leading all scorers with eight goals and three assists.
Sandford, Fleming MacKell, and Johnny Pierson led the Bruins to a semifinal upset of the first-place Detroit Red Wings before losing to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.
“I remember one goal I scored against Sawchuk in the playoffs,” Sandford said. “I hit the top corner on the left on a great pass from Bill Quackenbush. I caught the corner, and we beat them 6-2, and our line got about five goals, Johnny Pierson got a couple, and I got a couple. We were playing well, but unfortunately, it didn’t last long.”
In the 1954-1955 season, Sandford donned the “C” when Milt Schmidt retired from playing and began coaching.
“Milt was a good hockey player. He wasn’t quite as good as a coach,” Sandford chuckled. “When you have the talent he had, you think everybody else should be able to do the same thing, but that isn’t the way. Some people are blessed with great talent, which makes them different.”
After the trade to Detroit, Sandford played only four games for the Red Wings before finishing his career with Chicago in 1956. Wearing his Boston Bruins Alumni hat, Sanford said Boston will always be his team.
“I wear the hat all the time,” he said. “I’m proud to be an alumni.”
Sandford may no longer skate with the Alumni, but his son Mike joined the team as an honorary member. The Alumni take the ice this Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena when they skate against the Just Keep Livin Foundation at 11 am.
Unfortunately, this is my last article for Black N’ Gold Hockey Productions, LLC. However, I wanted to thank all of you for reading my work and supporting the team here at BNG. The group, led by Mark Allred, is top-notch. The podcasts are fun, entertaining, and filled with opinions you won’t find anywhere else. In addition, the coverage of the AHL Bruins is unmatched. I can’t wait to see what comes next for this group. As for myself, I hope you continue to follow me on Twitter and enjoy my continued coverage of Boston sports as I embark on the new role of Digital Content Producer for NESN.com. Oh, one last thing… Go Bruins!