(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/Getty Images)

By: Steve McClure | Follow me on Twitter / X @stmcclure1993

Happy birthday to Bruins’ legend Brad Park. The hall of fame defenseman turns 76 today.

After finding great success in New York with the Rangers, Park came to Boston in the fall of 1975 via a blockbuster trade, which netted the Bruins another hall-of-famer—center Jean Ratelle—as well. For their part, Boston had to part with superstar Phil Esposito and defenseman Carol Vadnais. Park bridged the Orr-era and the Bourque-era of elite defensemen in Boston. In the early years of the 1980s, he played a major role in the tutelage of Bourque as a maturing blue liner.

General manager Harry Sinden had traded for Park in 1975 with the knowledge that Bobby Orr’s knees would likely not hold out much longer. In fact, the two world-class defensemen would only play ten games together due to Orr’s knee problems; they shared the ice strictly on the power play and the penalty kill units—and the team went 6-1-3 during that stretch. 

(Photo Credit: bostonbruinsalumni.com)

In that first season in Boston—in his prime at age 28, though somewhat slowed by knee ailments of his own—he churned out 53 points in 43 games. He was named an NHL first team All-Star at the end of that 1975-76 season and was a top-five challenger for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. He would duplicate both feats again in the 1977-78 season.

One of the greatest stick handlers of his era, Park was a puck-moving artisan, leaving deked-out forecheckers in the wake of his rink rushes. In his 501 regular season games with Boston, he tallied 100 goals and produced 317 points. During that span he logged an impressive plus/minus of +233. 

Park was a six-time Norris Trophy runner-up—four times losing out on the award to Bobby Orr. In a nine year stretch, from 1969-70 through 1977-78, he was seven times in the top three in Norris voting. A fiery competitor, Park dished out textbook hip-checks with great gusto and was counted on to shut down the opposition’s top lines when it counted most.

Perhaps Park’s most celebrated moment was his Game Seven overtime-winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres in the 1983 quarterfinals. The goal clinched a semifinal-berth for Boston—the sixth such appearance Park had helped the Bruins achieve during his eight-year tenure.

One of the greatest NHL defensemen never to win a Norris trophy or a Stanley Cup, Brad Park was inducted into the hall of fame in 1988. He was named to the Bruins ‘All-Centennial Team’ this past year. Happy birthday, Brad!