NHL, NHLPA Ratify RTP; Bruins’ Playoff Schedule Released

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Yahoo Sports)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

It’s official – hockey is coming back. Today, July 10th, 2020, the NHL and NHLPA officially ratified the Return-To-Play/CBA Extension following a 502-135 vote (nearly 79% in favor) that has taken place over the last couple days.

In addition to confirming the Return-To-Play plans, more details have emerged on the deadline for players to opt-out of the festivities. Players will have until 5 p.m. EST on Monday, July 13th to opt-out of the 2019-2020 summer training camp as well as the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs without a penalty. Players must do so in writing to keep records of who decided to participate and who opted-out.

It was largely expected that the results would be in favor of hockey returning to decide a 2020 Stanley Cup Champion, but we also heard the news today of the schedule for the games and for Bruins fans, when we will see the boys in Black and Gold back on the ice for their three Round Robin games.

As of right now, only the qualifying round exact schedule has been released as further details will be released as the play-in rounds and round-robin conclude. Below is the full, 10-day schedule for every one of the 24 teams participating:

The Boston Bruins will begin their road to the 2020 Stanley Cup on Sunday, August 2nd against the Philadelphia Flyers followed by the dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, August 5th, and finally the Washington Capitals on Saturday, August 8th. From there, the seeding will be formed for the remainder of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Re-seeding will take place after each round ends, meaning a 1st seed position has more value.

Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta are the official hub cities. The National Hockey League confirmed that the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals will be held in Edmonton. According to Sportsnet Stats on Twitter, this is the first time since 1925 that the entirety of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be held in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup over the Hamilton Tigers due to a player strike in that 1924-25 season.

Below are some of the key dates for the National Hockey League starting at Training Camp courtesy of NHL Public Relations:

July 13th – Training Camps Open

July 26th – Teams Travel to Hub City

July 28-30th – Exhibition Games

August 1st – Stanley Cup Qualifiers Begin

August 10th* – Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery

August 11th – 1st Round Begins

August 25th* – Second Round Begins

September 8th* – Conference Finals Begin

September 22nd* – Stanley Cup Final Begins

October 4th* – Last Possible Day of Final

October 9-10th* – 2020 NHL Entry Draft

*Tentative Date

For the latest on the NHL’s Return-To-Play as well as everything in the Boston Bruins organization, make sure to check back to blackngoldhockey.com and follow me on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers – An Underrated Rivalry

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Boston Bruins’ Charlie Coyle shields the puck from Philadelphia Flyers’ Connor Bunnaman. PHOTO CREDITS: (nbcsports.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

As one of the first franchises in the National Hockey League, the Boston Bruins have had their fair share of time to stir the pot with essentially every other team. Typically, when the word “rivalry” combines with the name “Boston Bruins”, the other five Original Six teams come to mind. The rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, as fellow Black n’ Gold Hockey Podcast writer Joe Chrzanowski wrote about in a recent article, is widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in the history of the NHL.

As well, rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and even the Detroit Red Wings are fairly well-known. These teams are rivals with the Bruins more-so because of the fact they were the only teams in the league at the time and played each other in high-stakes games often, thus creating hatred for one another on the ice.

However, in the 1967-68 season, the National Hockey League introduced six new organizations to the league – the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, and the Philadelphia Flyers, bringing the size of the league to twelve teams instead of six. With more competition and more opponents, winning a Stanley Cup became even more challenging and opened the door for more rivalries.

As an expansion team, the Philadelphia Flyers had losing records in each of their first five seasons, making the postseason three times and losing in the quarter-finals each time – twice to the St. Louis Blues and once to the Chicago Blackhawks. It wasn’t until the 1972-73 season where the Flyers, led by captain Bobby Clarke, finished with a winning record of 37-30-11. Philly knocked out the Minnesota North Stars in six games but fell short in five games to the Montreal Canadiens in the next round.

In the very next season, the Bobby Clarke scored a team-leading 87 points to help lead the Flyers to a 50-16-12 record and the 1st place position in the NHL West Division. After sweeping the Atlanta Flames in the opening round and bouncing the New York Rangers in seven games, the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history – against the powerhouse Boston Bruins.

The Start of a Rivalry: 1974 – 1978

Led by Bobby Orr and company, the Boston Bruins were one of the strongest teams in the National Hockey League. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in the 1969-70 season, won 57 games before losing in the first round in the ’70/’71 season, won a second Stanley Cup in 71-72, won another 51 games in 72-73, and were coming off a 52-17-9 record in the 1973-74 campaign.

Boston eliminated both the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0) and Chicago Blackhawks (4-2) in the previous two rounds which led to the Finals against Philadelphia. During the regular season, the B’s won the season series 3-1-1, out-scoring Philly 20-to-16 in those five games. Boston was arguably the favorites to win their third Stanley Cup in five seasons.

The 1974 Stanley Cup Finals was also a series between two of the scariest NHL teams at the time and quite possibly of all-time. The Bruins were known as the ‘Big Bad Bruins’ with the likes of Terry O’Reilly and Wayne Cashman and truly paved the way for the physical, hard-hitting teams like the Broad Street Bullies to even exist. Now, with the likes of Dave Schultz and Don Saleski, these two tough teams were going toe-to-toe with Lord Stanley on the line.

Boston took the first game, but the Flyers won Game Two in overtime followed by wins in Games Three and Four to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. In Game Five, the Bruins scored more than three goals for the first (and only) time in the series, winning the game 5-1. However, Hall-of-Fame goaltender Bernie Parent stopped every shot in Game Six as the Philadelphia Flyers won their first franchise Stanley Cup with a 1-0 victory. Parent was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Broad Street Bullies did not stop there. In the very next season, they dominated once again all the way to their second-consecutive Stanley Cup, defeating the Buffalo Sabres in six games. The Bruins, on the other hand, lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-three preliminary round.

In 1975-76, both the Bruins and Flyers were top-three in the final league standings and found success early on in the postseason. Thus led to a semi-finals matchup between the two, a rematch from the Finals two years prior. The Flyers dominated the Bruins, winning four-straight games after losing Game One, sending them to the Stanley Cup Finals again. However, the Montreal Canadiens proved to be too good and swept Philly in four games.

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Boston Bruins’ Bobby Orr (right) passes the puck as Philadelphia Flyers Rick MacLeish looks on in Boston on February 9, 1974. PHOTO CREDITS: (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP)

For the next two seasons, these hard-hitting franchises played against one another in the semi-finals with Boston winning both matchups before going on to lose to the Montreal Canadiens – as most teams did back in this era of the NHL. During those five years, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers played in four playoff series with each team winning twice. Although, only the Broad Street Bullies managed to go on and win the Stanley Cup (1974) after their series.

The 1970s went down as arguably the most entertaining decades for each of these teams. Philadelphia and Boston had seemingly the perfect blend of scoring talent, solid goaltending, and the willingness to drop the gloves and pound your body into the glass. Ruthless, intense, physically-demanding are the best ways to describe the Big Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies back in the day.

A Recent Resurgence: 2007 – Present

This rivalry appeared to die down a little during the 1980s, 1990s, and beginning stages to the 2000s. We did not see another playoff series between the two organizations and neither team won another Stanley Cup in that period. While they played each other in the scheduled regular-season games, there just was not as much intensity as a best-of-seven elimination series.

However, the bad blood between Boston and Philadelphia started to amp up more recently. On October 27th, 2007, defenceman Randy Jones brutally hit 22-year-old Patrice Bergeron on the numbers into the glass. Bergeron laid unconscious on the ice before being stretchered out of the arena. He was later diagnosed with a broken nose and a concussion and was forced to miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season. Jones received a two-game suspension for his hit.

Two seasons later, in 2009-2010, the Bruins and the Flyers each made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after finishing third in their respective Eastern Conference divisions. Boston dispatched of the Buffalo Sabres in six games while Philadelphia knocked out the New Jersey Devils in five games. This subsequently led to a Bruins-Flyers playoff series for the first time since 1977-78 – 32 years prior.

Following a 5-4 overtime win in Game One, the B’s would win the next two meetings to have a dominating 3-0 series lead over the Black and Orange. Most hockey fans expected Boston to come out victorious, but the Flyers were not done yet. Simon Gagne, who missed the first three games due to injury, scored the game-winning goal in overtime to avoid the four-game sweep.

Philly shutout the Bruins 4-0 in Game Five and stole Game Six by a final score of 2-1 to somehow, someway force a pivotal Game Seven in Boston, Massachusetts. With goals from Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic (2), the Bruins exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first period of play. However, James van Riemsdyk buried one with less than three minutes to go in the opening frame to cut the lead down to two.

Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere each potted one of their own to equal the score after forty minutes. Then, the Boston Bruins took a too-many-men penalty (a Déjà vu moment from the 1979 Semi-Finals against Montreal) which lead to a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with just around seven minutes remaining in the final regulation period.

Philadelphia held on to win Game Seven, 4-3, and became just the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit and win the series (Maple Leafs over Red Wings in 1942, Islanders over Penguins in 1975). This series loss remains to be one of the most heartbreaking moments for many Boston Bruins fans as an almost certain series win came crashing down. The Flyers would go on to win the Conference Finals but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.

During the 2010-2011 campaign, both Boston and Philadelphia finished with 100-plus-point records and were considered to be two of the favorites to make it to the Finals coming out of the East. The Bruins defeated the Canadiens in seven at the same time the Flyers eliminated the Sabres in seven – setting up an immediate rematch of the year prior.

Once again, Boston came out strong, winning Game One 7-3, Game Two 3-2 in overtime, and Game Three 5-1. With another 3-0 series lead over Philly, the Black and Gold were looking to finish the job successfully this time. In a masterful game of offensive and defensive success, the Bruins won Game Four by a score of 5-to-1 and eliminated Philadelphia to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals.

As we know, the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games and the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their sixth Stanley Cup and first since 1972. The 2011 Bruins went down as one of the toughest teams in NHL history as their defense and hard-hitting style helped lead them to victory. It was shades of the old-school 1970s Big Bad Bruins – the team that as we discussed, started the rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In 201 regular-season games dating back to 1967-68, the Boston Bruins have a combined 107-61-21-12 record over the Philadelphia Flyers, outscoring them 659-to-583. In addition to that, these two teams have played six playoff series against one another with each winning three times. The Bruins have outscored the Flyers in the postseason 100-to-86.

Now, in 2019-20, this rivalry has the potential to gain new ground. On March 10th, 2020, the Bruins defeated the Flyers 2-0 in what ended up being the final game of the regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the NHL’s Return-to-Play format, the Bruins and Flyers will each play in a Round Robin to determine seeding for the remainder of the playoffs.  This means that there is the potential for another high-stakes game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers and to be quite frank, I am ready for it.

To a lot of Bruins and Flyers fans alike, this rivalry is heated, intense, and quite historic. However, with other more high-profile rivals for each respective franchise, this one often goes unnoticed. For that reason, the rivalry between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers is one of the most underrated ones in NHL history.

Information and statistics are courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, records.nhl.com, thehockeywriters.com, and bleacherreport.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time: #5 – #1

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

While Americans have the Fourth of July, us Canadians celebrate Canada Day today, July 1st. In honour of Canada’s 153rd birthday, I decided to rank the greatest Boston Bruins players that were born in the Great White North. If you missed players ten through six, I highly suggest you click HERE. If you’ve already read the previous installment, we can officially move on to the remainder of the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time. So without further ado, let’s dive right into this!

5 – Patrice Bergeron (2003 – Present)

The only current player on this list, Patrice Bergeron is one of the greatest players to ever play for the Boston Bruins franchise. At 34-years-old, Bergeron has the 5th-most goals in Bruins history with 352, the 5th-most assists with 517 and is 6th in Boston Bruins history for most points with 869. Bergeron is also one of only six players to play 1000 games for the franchise, joining Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, Don Sweeney, Wayne Cashman, and Zdeno Chara.

While Bergeron is near the top of most of the statistical leaderboards within the organization, it is not the only reason Bergeron will go down in the history books and will likely have a place in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame when his career is all said and done. Patrice Bergeron is one of, if not the greatest defensive forwards of all-time. The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has won four Frank J. Selke Trophies – tying him with Bob Gainey for the most in NHL history.

In addition, Patrice Bergeron is apart of the illustrious Triple Gold Club – having won an Olympic Gold (2010, 2014), a World Championship Gold (2004), and a Stanley Cup (2011). Bergeron also continues to be one of the most well-respected players in the National Hockey League – putting respect, class, and sportsmanship before anything else and he is a perfect representative of the Boston Bruins organization.

4 – Johnny Bucyk (1955 – 1978)

Quite possibly the embodiment of the Boston Bruins organization – Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, born in Edmonton, Alberta on May 12th, 1935, played 21 seasons for the Boston Bruins from 1957-58 all the way to 1977-78. During that span, Bucyk scored 556 goals (1st in Bruins history), 794 assists (2nd in Bruins history), and 1339 points (2nd in Bruins history) all in 1436 career regular-season games (2nd in Bruins history).

From the 1967-68 season to the 1976-77 season, Bucyk scored at least 20 goals including a 51-65-110 campaign in 1970-71 at the age of 35. A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Bucyk goes down as one of the best Boston Bruins simply for the time spent in the organization. Even after his retirement at the end of the ’77/’78 season, Bucyk worked with the Bruins’ public relations team as well as doing some colour commentary. Today, The Chief is still an ambassador for the team and just concluded his 62nd season as apart of the Boston Bruins.

John Bucyk’s #9 was retired immediately in 1978 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame not long after in 1981. Bucyk finished his NHL career with 556-813-1369 numbers, two Stanley Cups, two Lady Byng trophies, and was named to two All-Star teams.

3 – Phil Esposito (1963 – 1981)

Phil Esposito, born in Sault St. Marie, Ontario, was one of the greatest scorers in not only Boston Bruins history, but NHL history at the time of his playing career. Esposito’s tenure with the Bruins took place for nine seasons, playing in 625 games while scoring an incredible 459-553-1012 numbers during that short time.

Esposito once held the NHL record for most goals scored in a single season with 76 goals in the 1970-71 campaign and while that record would later be passed by Wayne Gretzky, it’s just a small sample size of how talented Esposito was in Boston and how he was a massive piece to Boston’s two Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972. Esposito was a ten-time All-Star, two-time Hart Trophy winner, five-time Art Ross winner, two-time Pearson winner, and was apart of the Hockey Hall-of-Fame Class of 1984.  As a member of the Bruins, Esposito scored 40 or more goals in seven consecutive seasons and 50 or more goals in five straight seasons.

At the international level, Esposito was a big piece to Team Canada in the infamous 1972 Summit Series, finishing the eight-game series against the Soviet Union with the most points with thirteen and tied for most goals with seven. Phil also helped Canada win the 1976 Canada Cup and represented his country in the 1977 IIHF World Championships where Canada finished 4th.

Phil Esposito ranks 2nd in franchise history for goals, 4th in franchise history for assists and 3rd in franchise history in points while not even hitting the 700-game mark as a Boston Bruin. Throughout his entire NHL career combined, Phil Esposito scored 717-873-1590 numbers in 1282 games played putting him 10th in the NHL for points and 6th in the league’s history for goals. The Bruins retired his #7 in 1987, creating one of the most infamous moments in Bruins history with the player who is next on this list.

2 – Raymond Bourque (1979 – 2001)

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Ray Bourque is one of the greatest defensemen to ever play the sport of hockey. Throughout 21 incredible seasons as a member of the Boston Bruins, Bourque amassed 395 goals and 1111 assists for 1506 points. As of the current day, Bourque is the franchise leader in games played (1518), assists, and points.

As mentioned above, Bourque was involved in one of the best moments in Boston Bruins history. As the Bruins were set to raise Phil Esposito’s #7 up into the rafters, Ray Bourque (who took the #7 after Espo’s retirement), skated over to Esposito, took off his #7 sweater and handed it to Esposito. Under the original sweater was Bourque’s new #77 which would later be retired by the Bruins after Bourque’s own career ended.

Out of the 21 seasons in Boston, he was named an All-Star eighteen times and won the James Norris Trophy as the league’s best defensemen five times. He also won the team’s scoring title on five occasions which included four 90-plus-point performances. Bourque was also well-known around the NHL for his blistering accurate shot, winning eight Accuracy Shooting competitions at the NHL All-Star festivities.

While Bourque never won a Stanley Cup in Boston, he did win a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, further cementing himself as one of the greatest ever at his position. He is still the NHL leader for points as a defenceman and was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2004.

1 – Bobby Orr (1966 – 1979)

If you ask anyone to name one legend of the Boston Bruins, 99% of the time they will respond with “Bobby Orr”. Born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Bobby Orr is the greatest Boston Bruin player ever – let alone players born in Canada. While his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries, his time with the Boston Bruins proved him to be one of the best players the NHL has ever seen.

In 631 regular-season games for the Boston Bruins, Bobby Orr scored 264 goals and 624 assists for 888 points. In only those ten seasons, he won eight straight James Norris trophies as the league’s best defenceman, three Hart trophies, two Art Ross trophies making him the only blueliner to ever win a scoring title, two Conn Smythe trophies as the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs in Boston’s 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup wins. In addition, Orr was named as an All-Star nine times and was the first NHL player to not only reach 100 assists in a single season but was also the first NHL player to record six-consecutive 100-point campaigns – a feat he accomplished between 1969-70 and 1974-75.

Bobby Orr is also extremely well-known for his infamous “Flying Goal” in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues. The photo of Bobby flying through the air after scoring the game-winning goal that won the Bruins the Stanley Cup in 1970 is synonymous with Boston Bruins culture and every Bruin fan around the globe is proud he was a member of the Boston Bruins.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Ray Lussier/Boston Herald American via AP)

Bobby Orr changed the game of hockey forever. The way he controlled the game with such finesse, skill, and talent as a defenceman was never seen before and has never been replicated to that degree even now. A true athlete that altered the sport of hockey for the better and is truly in the conversation as one of the best hockey players in the history of the National Hockey League.

And with that, the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time is now complete. Do you agree with my list? I’d love to hear your thoughts via my Twitter (@tkdmaxbjj). On behalf of the Black n Gold Hockey Podcast crew, Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

Information and Statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com, hhof.com, eliteprospects.com, quanthockey.com, and nhl.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time: #10 – #6

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Today, July 1st, 2020 is Canada’s 153rd birthday – more commonly known as Canada Day. In celebration of this historical day, I decided to take a look back on some of the greatest players from the Great White North that dawned that infamous Spoked-B sweater of the Boston Bruins. This list was incredibly difficult to make, but it could make for some fun discussions. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time!

10 – Eddie Shore (1926 – 1940)

Born in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan on November 25th, 1902, Eddie Shore spent the early years of his life on a horse ranch working hard labor – breaking in ponies, herding stock and hauling grain on the daily. While that may seem like a useless piece of information, those early days helped pave the way for Shore who became known as one of the most physical players during his era.

Immediately at the beginning of his career, Shore’s bruising style controlled the game and in the 1928-29 season, he led the Bruins to first place in the American Division and helped them go undefeated in the playoffs en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1929. Shore continued his strong play throughout his career, winning the Hart Trophy in 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938 becoming the first defenceman in NHL history to win four Hart trophies and as of 2020, is still the only defenceman to have won that many times.

On December 22nd, 1933, one of Shore’s most infamous moments occurred. Eddie Shore hit Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Ace Bailey from behind, causing him to go headfirst into the ice. Bailey was knocked unconscious and his career was ultimately ended right then and there. In retaliation for the hit, Leafs player Red Homer punched Shore in the face, causing Shore to fall onto the ice as well, resulting in seven stitches. The first large-scale benefit game in NHL history took place for Bailey in 1934 which led to Shore and Bailey shaking hands, one of the best showcases of respect in hockey.

Later on in his career, Shore helped bring the Bruins back to championship glory, winning the franchise’s second Stanley Cup – ten years after the first one – in 1939. Shore’s tenacious style was a huge factor in the victory. Shore retired after the 1939-40 season. He played 14 seasons with Boston, scoring 284 points in 551 games and two Stanley Cups. Eddie Shore was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1947 and his #2 was retired by the Bruins that same year.

9 – Wayne Cashman (1964 – 1983)

Wayne Cashman, born in Kingston, Ontario on June 24th, 1945, played for the Black and Gold for 17 seasons, starting out in the 1964-65 campaign where he skated in one game. Cashman was a solid player for the Bruins, skating on a line with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge – the line that set an NHL record at the time with 336 points combined. During the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run in 1970, Cashman scored 9 points in 14 games.

During the 1970-71 campaign, Cashman scored 21-58-77 totals in 77 games played for the Bruins, setting a new career-high in points that would later be broken in 1974 when he posted an 84-point season. However, Cashman was never known for his personal statistics. “Cash” was the tough, physical player that battled hard in the boards for pucks and was there to stand up for his teammates – especially Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. Teammate Derek Sanderson said the following about Cashman:

“You could see a guy go into a corner after the puck, and just before he got to it, he stopped and flinched a bit when he saw Cash. That’s when you knew you got him on the ropes,” – Derek Sanderson 

Cashman won a second Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1972 and went on to play over 1,000 games with the franchise, including the final six seasons as captain, before retiring from playing in 1983 – the final player from the Original Six to retire. Following his playing career, Cashman spent 16 years in various coaching positions throughout the NHL. He ended his coaching career as an assistant with the Bruins in 2006. Wayne Cashman scored 277-516-793 numbers in 1027 games – all for Boston.

8 – Cecil “Tiny” Thompson (1928 – 1940)

Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, born in Sandon, British Columbia, was another member of the early Boston Bruins and is known today as one of the best goaltenders to play for the organization. Throughout eleven seasons in Boston (and two in Detroit) Thompson accumulated 284 wins, 194 losses, 75 ties, and 84 shutouts throughout 553 career NHL games.

As of July 1st, 2020, Thompson is all over the Boston Bruins record books. He ranks second in games played (behind Tuukka Rask), second in wins (behind Tuukka Rask), first in career goals-against-average (1.99), and first in shutouts (74). Thompson’s overall 81 shutouts (7 with Detroit) rank 6th in NHL history. Thompson was apart of Boston’s first Stanley Cup back in 1929 and won a total of four Vezina trophies as the best goaltender in the NHL. He was also named as an All-Star on four occasions as well.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images)

Cecil is also known for being one of the first netminders to perfect and popularize the technique of catching the puck in his glove – known today as a glove save. Before then, it was not common for goalies to grab the puck, but his skill allowed him to do so, paving the way for future players. Also, he was the first NHL goaltender to record an assist back in the 1935-36 season.

Tiny Thompson retired from the National Hockey League after the 1939-40 season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 1959.

Note: It was a true toss-up for me to put either Thompson or Gerry Cheevers. Due to the statistics being slightly in favor of Thompson, I decided to put him instead. However, there is a true argument for Cheevers due to his impact on the Bruins winning the Cup in 1970 and 1972 as well as the sentimental value he holds with Boston Bruins fans. 

7 – Rick Middleton (1974 – 1988)

Rick “Nifty” Middleton was born in Toronto, Ontario back on December 4th, 1953, and is the most recent player to have their number retired by the Boston Bruins as his #16 went into the TD Garden rafters in November 2018. During his 1005-game NHL career (881 with the Bruins), Middleton was one of the better scorers of his generation. As of July 1st, 2020, Middleton is fourth in Bruins all-time points and 3rd all-time in Bruins goals.

From 1978 to 1982, Middleton led the Bruins in points and also led the Bruins in goals for six consecutive seasons. To this day, Middleton’s 19 points in a single playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres still holds as an NHL record and has helped contribute to him being 5th in the Boston Bruins organization for playoff scoring. The reason for “Nifty” being so dangerous? He was one of the best one-on-one players in the league during his career and former teammate Wayne Cashman confirmed that:

“He was the most exciting one-on-one player in hockey when he was in his prime”- former teammate Wayne Cashman 

In 1005 career regular-season games, Rick Middleton scored 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points in addition to his 100 points in 111 career playoff games. While the prestigious Stanley Cup managed to stay out of his grasps in his 14-year career, Middleton goes down as one of the best Bruins of his generation and in my opinion, deserves a spot in the Hockey Hall-of-Fame.

6 – Cam Neely – (1983 – 1996)

A native of Comox, Britsh Columbia, Cam Neely is widely regarded as one of the greatest “power-forwards” in NHL history. In fact, Neely was essentially the first player to be referred to as a power forward in the league and it is genuinely the only proper description of his playstyle. Neely began his NHL career with his home province team of the Vancouver Canucks but only played three seasons before being traded to the Bruins in 1986.

From then, Neely went on to play 525 regular-season games across ten seasons with the Boston Bruins scoring a total of 344 goals and 246 assists for 590 points in the Spoked-B sweater. Neely led the Bruins in goals for seven of those ten campaigns with the help of three 50-goal years (1989-90, 1990-91, 1993-94). Cam’s 55 goals in the ’93/’94 season is still the Bruins’ record for most goals by a winger in a single season and he is the leading playoff goal-scorer in franchise history with 55 goals in 86 postseason contests.

Cam Neely was named an All-Star on four occasions and won the Masterton Trophy in 1993-94 for dedication to the sport of hockey after he scored an incredible 50 goals in only 44 games played after missing a large majority of the previous two seasons due to hip, knee, and thigh injuries. Only Wayne Gretzky has scored 50 goals in fewer games in a single season – showing how dangerous of a threat Cam Neely was offensively.

Unfortunately, injuries forced Neely to retire from playing in 1996 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall-of-Fame in 2005 – one year after his #8 was retired by the Boston Bruins franchise. Cam Neely ended his career with 395 goals, 299 assists, and 694 points in 726 games along with 55-32-87 numbers in 86 playoff games. Today, Cam is the President of the Boston Bruins.

That does it for players ten through six on my list of the Top Ten Greatest Canadian Boston Bruins of All-Time! For the remaining players on this list, make sure to check out blackngoldhockey.com as it will be released on July 1st as well.

Information and Statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com, nhl.com Bruins honored numbers, quanthockey.com, originalhockeyhalloffame.com, and the hhof.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 184 that we recorded below on 6-28-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Boston Bruins Announce 2019-2020 Award Winners

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

At the end of each season, the Boston Bruins hand out numerous awards within the organization to the players who best exemplify the criteria. Today, June 18th, the Bruins released the 2019-2020 winners of these team awards.

Eddie Shore Award – D Brandon Carlo

Eddie Shore was a 14-year veteran of the Boston Bruins during the late 1920s and early 1930s, winning two Stanley Cups and being selected to eight All-Star games. Shore was the embodiment of a hard-working, tough Bruin and for that reason, the organization created an award in his name. The Eddie Shore Award, presented by the Gallery Gods, is awarded to the player who best demonstrated “exceptional hustle and determination throughout the season”. This year’s winner – defenceman Brandon Carlo.

Carlo, 23, played in the third full season of his young career and in only 67 games, set a new career-high in goals, assists, and points with 4-15-19 numbers. Playing 20:29 minutes per-game, Carlo has become a pivotal piece to Boston’s defensive core and will be a solid defensive defenceman of the future as well. This award goes to show the effort he puts in on a night-to-night basis and how he put his all on the ice to help the Bruins win. He joins forward Jake DeBrusk who won the award last season.

John P. Bucyk Award – F Patrice Bergeron

John Bucyk is one of the greatest Boston Bruins of all-time. Having played 1436 career regular-season games (2nd-most in franchise history) and his 21 seasons as a Bruin along with his 1369 career points and two Stanley Cups, “The Chief” is a perfect image of the Boston Bruins, having been apart of the organization for 62 seasons now. For that reason, this award is named after him and is awarded to the player with “the greatest off-ice charitable contributions”. This year’s winner – forward Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron, 34, is not only one of the most respected Bruins, but most respected NHL players, and part of that is due to his incredible off-ice contributions to his community and people who are in need. While Bergeron has often been involved in great charity work, it is a recent gesture that showcased his class. Following the death of George Floyd, Patrice Bergeron made a lengthy, heartfelt statement regarding racial inequality and donated $50,000 – $25,000 to the Boston NAACP and $25,000 to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec in Canada.

In addition to the award, Bergeron will be awarded $1,000 from the Boston Bruins Alumni Foundation to donate to a charity of his choice. Throughout his career, the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native has truly exemplified class and respect to everyone on and off the ice and is very well-deserving of this award. This is his second time winning the award, (other in 2006-07) and joins Zdeno Chara who won the award last season.

Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy – F David Pastrnak

The Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy is commonly awarded in the final home game of the regular season, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that is not possible. However, for many years, this trophy has been awarded to the Boston Bruin “with the most outstanding performance during home games”. This year’s winner – forward David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak, 24, has emerged as one of the top scorers in the National Hockey League, winning the Maurice Richard Trophy for most goals in the league this season (tied with Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin). According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak scored 28-21-49 numbers in 35 games on TD Garden ice in 2019-20, showcasing how dominant he is when at home. This is the first time Pastrnak has been awarded this trophy, ending Brad Marchand’s three-year streak.

Bruins legend Raymond Bourque won this trophy seven times (a franchise-best), while Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr each won it five times and Milt Schmidt and Rick Middleton won it four times each. While he has a long way to go to get there, David Pastrnak is proving at a young age that he can be a dangerous player for years to come in the NHL.

98.5 The Sports Hub Three Stars – F Pastrnak, G Rask, F Marchand

Finally, the Boston Bruins Three Stars that go to the top three players that were the team’s best performers during home games this season. The winners – forward David Pastrnak, goaltender Tuukka Rask, and forward Brad Marchand.

David Pastrnak was awarded the first star for his 28 goals, 21 assists, and 49 points at home in ’18/’19. Pastrnak finished as the 3rd Star last year, showing his improvement as a young forward in the league. The second star goes to Tuukka Rask who finished with a stellar 14-2-6 record on home ice with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 save percentage to go along with his three shutouts. This is the sixth time Rask has been named one of the Three Stars on the Bruins.

Finally, Brad Marchand scored 14 goals and a team-high 27 assists for 41 points in TD Garden this campaign and once again proved how dangerous he is when at home. This is Marchand’s fifth time being named in the top three stars of the Bruins and his fourth-straight season as well.

In addition to these team awards, the Boston Bruins also won the President’s Trophy, David Pastrnak was named a co-winner of the Maurice Richard Trophy, and both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak won the William M. Jennings Trophy. Tuukka Rask is also talked about being one of the favorites to win the Vezina Trophy, David Pastrnak is expected to be a nominee for the Hart Trophy, and Patrice Bergeron could potentially be a candidate for the Frank J. Selke Trophy.

All in all, it has been a successful regular-season for the 2019-2020 Boston Bruins and the chase for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup, is about to get underway.

Information and statistics used in this article courtesy of hockeyreference.com, nhl.com, wikipedia.com, and @nhlbruins on Twitter.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 183 that we recorded below on 6-14-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Aaron Rome’s Hit on Bruins’ Nathan Horton Changed the 2011 Finals

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( Photo Credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters )

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

June 1st, 2020 marked the ninth anniversary of Game One of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The best-of-seven series put the Boston Bruins, a team looking to end a 39-year Stanley Cup drought, up against the Vancouver Canucks, the 2010-11 Presidents’ Trophy Champions looking for their first Cup win in franchise history. Before we dive into the Finals itself, we have to look at how both of the teams earned their spot to compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

As previously mentioned, the Canucks entered the Finals as the best regular-season team, finishing the 2010-11 campaign with a 54-19-9 record. Vancouver scored the most goals (262), allowed the least amount of goals (185), and was arguably one of the favorites to go deep in the playoffs.

In the opening round, the Canucks were positioned to play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Vancouver exploded to a commanding 3-0 series lead only for the Hawks to storm back and force a Game 7. Even with that, a game-winning goal by Alex Burrows won the series for the Canucks and led them to the second round to play the Nashville Predators who were coming off of a six-game series victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Vancouver won games one, three, and four to take a 3-1 series lead and while the Predators won Game Five, the Canucks closed the show in a 2-1 win in Game Six to move onto the Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks, the first-place team in the Pacific Division. This would be the easiest series yet for the Blue and White as they’d cruise to a 4-to-1 series victory, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993-94.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins were on their road to the Finals as well. Following a 46-25-11 record that won them the Northeast Division, the Bruins entered the 2011 postseason with a chance to go far, but many felt other teams would make it further. To add to the drama, the Bruins had to play their long-time rivals, the Montreal Canadiens in Round One.

This opening round was the definition of a back-and-forth playoff series. Montreal won the first two meetings on the road, followed by two wins by Boston in Montreal. In a pivotal Game Five, Bruins forward Nathan Horton scored the game-winning goal in double-overtime to give Boston their first lead in the series. The Canadiens took the sixth game, only for Boston to eliminate them on home ice off of Horton’s OT winner in Game Seven.

Now, for a second-consecutive season, the Boston Bruins would face off against the Philadephia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The year prior, the Bruins held a 3-0 series lead, only for the Flyers to storm back and win the series in a dramatic Game 7, stunning Boston. With a chance at redemption, the Black and Gold took a 3-0 series once again, but this time, ending things in Game Four, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In one of the closest, most nail-biting series I can remember, the Bruins battled the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals. Just like the Bruins, the Bolts swept their previous round (Washington Capitals) and were riding on a ton of momentum. The series was intense all the way to Game Seven, where once again, Nathan Horton scored the eventual game-winner in the third period. Horton’s 8th of the postseason secured a berth in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.

Finally, the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Boston Bruins versus the Vancouver Canucks in a best-of-seven series that will break the hearts of one fanbase and cause a mass celebration for the other. As they had in every other series, the Canucks earned home-ice advantage and in the Finals, they took that advantage and ran with it, winning the first two games of the series by scores of 1-0 in Game One and a 3-2 overtime win in Game Two.

Now, the series shifts to Boston with the Bruins facing a tough task, having to bounce back from a 2-0 deficit to have a shot at winning the Cup. Five minutes into the opening frame of Game Three, the Bruins are executing a breakout play out of the defensive zone. Captain Zdeno Chara sends a pass up the ice to Nathan Horton who skates through the neutral zone, before handing it off to Milan Lucic just before entering the Vancouver zone. Over a second after releasing the puck, Aaron Rome, a 6-foot-1, 218-pound defenceman hits Horton, knocking him out cold.

Horton laid on the ice for several minutes after the hit before being stretchered out of TD Garden. He was hospitalized overnight and was diagnosed with a severe concussion and was forced to miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Finals. At this time, Horton had scored eight goals in the 2011 postseason included three game-winning goals and the two series-clinching goals showcased above. This put the Bruins without arguably their most clutch player for the rest of the series.

Vancouver’s Aaron Rome did not get away without dealing with consequences, though. Rome was handed a five-minute game misconduct for interference and the NHL later announced that Rome would be suspended for the remainder of the Finals, making it the longest suspension in Stanley Cup Finals history at the time.

The first period of Game Three ended with a 0-0 tie, but the Bruins exploded, scoring four goals in the middle frame and then another four in the final period to take a dominate 8-1 victory. In Game Four, Tim Thomas stopped all 38 shots and Rich Peverley scored twice to help Boston win 4-0 and tie the series heading back to Vancouver.

In Game Five, the Canucks blanked the Bruins 1-0 courtesy of Roberto Luongo’s 31-save performance, putting the Canucks only one win away from winning the series. Although, facing elimination was not new for these Boston Bruins having two Game Seven victories under their belt, but now, they were playing for their teammate Nathan Horton. A four-goal first-period in Boston forced a Game Seven on the road in Vancouver.

Throughout the series so far, the only wins by the Bruins – were at home. Every game in Vancouver found the Bruins not only losing, but getting shutout twice as well. For this reason, Horton filled a water bottle of melted TD Garden ice, and before puck drop in the do-or-die Game Seven, poured the water onto the ice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. It may just be superstition, but it was Horton’s way of continuously helping the Boston Bruins even without actually playing for them.

Hockey fans all know how this story ends. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored a pair of goals and the Boston Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time since Bobby Orr’s team did the same in the 1971-72 Finals. The 2010-11 Boston Bruins were not just a “team”, they were family and that was put on full display for them to come back from being down 2-0 in the series and win the Stanley Cup. They played for Nathan Horton and came through on it.

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( Photo Credit: thespec.com )

It is impossible to know the results of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals if Aaron Rome never landed that hit on Nathan Horton but what we do know, is that the tides changed the moment that injury happened. To this day, it is one of the greatest stories in the history of the Boston Bruins franchise.

Note: Statistics and information used in this article are courtesy of hockeyreference.com, cbc.ca, and nhl.com.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 181 that we recorded below on 5-30-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

Returning or Cancelled? Future of the 2019-20 NHL Season

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PHOTO CREDITS: (NHL.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

It was mid-March, teams around the NHL finished trades to acquire new players only a couple weeks prior at the Trade Deadline, and the race for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was heating up by the day. The Boston Bruins were atop the NHL standings with a 44-14-12 record, becoming the only team to reach the 100-point plateau. Then, on March 12th, the National Hockey League made the difficult, but necessary decision to put the 2019-2020 campaign on “pause”.

Only a few days prior, the league was discussing plans to host games as normal but prevent fans from attending the games in a way to continue the schedule, but hopefully limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus that was infecting, at that time, hundreds-of-thousands of people worldwide. However, on March 11th, Rudy Gobert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Utah Jazz to be postponed before tipoff.

Amid concerns of who Gobert might have come into contact with in the time of contracting the virus and him testing positive, the NBA postponed their season almost immediately. This decision put immense pressure on the remaining professional sporting leagues to either suspend or to continue operations. As mentioned above, the NHL made the tough choice to put the 2019-2020 regular-season and subsequent playoffs on “pause”.

Putting a league’s operations on “pause” is a very broad statement. It was impossible to know how long the pause would last, considering the entire world had no idea what the COVID-19 pandemic would continue to do. Not wanting to give up hope, the NHL made sure to keep the idea of returning a possibility in their official press release on March 12th, stating, “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup”

That message has stayed consistent for the National Hockey League. No deadlines or specific dates have been set on a return, but also no confirmation has been announced or the season not returning. In an interview with NHL Network on April 30th, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “We’re going to have to take things one step at a time because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to anything we’re focused on.” Also, stating, “I don’t think anybody knows for certain.” when asked about possible return-to-play scenarios.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Within that same interview, Bettman said that while the NHL and NHLPA continue to discuss the chance to return, they have also been talking about what the 2020-2021 season will look like. Of course, if the season did resume, it would not be on the same schedule as a typical NHL season looks. By now, teams would be nearing the end of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and other teams would be looking ahead to the offseason. A return in ’19/’20 means we are seeing hockey in likely July or August, and how long that will go for is uncertain.

“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” Commissioner Bettman said. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. – NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL.com

In that case, I personally would expect the All-Star festivities to be canceled as well as the week-long break to be shortened or taken out of the schedule altogether. This is assuming the league will look to play a full 82-game campaign.

Throughout this timeline of the season being put on pause to the current date, players have been asked to self-quarantine, meaning they have not been able to train in the same way that a professional athlete needs to. Recognizing that fact, Bettman also said that the next step is to open training facilities for “small group activities” to get players back into game-ready shape.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Media Day

PHOTO CREDITS: (NBC Sports)

In an article by ESPN on May 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN in an email that they are hoping to organize these training sessions in the “latter half of May” but right now, it “remains to be seen”. In that same article by ESPN, it was mentioned that the NHL continues its search for cities to play games if a return does take place. Rather than having each team play in their home city, all teams would play in “centralized locations” to limit travel and player contact with other people.

Among those arenas include the homes of the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Vegas Golden Knights. Other locations, like British Columbia, have reached out to the league to “bid” for their arena to be a potential playing spot for summer hockey.

Another question in play is the NHL Entry Draft, an event that commonly takes place in late June, just before the start of free agency on July 1st. Bettman has tossed around the idea of a virtual draft, similar to that of the NFL, NWHL, and WNBA, and also suggested that such technology would take at least a month to prepare. General Managers throughout the league have differing opinions on it, but Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney stayed down the middle, saying, “I have my own preferences but that being said, I think the league has to make their decision about what’s best for the overall decision making than any teams that have a personal preference, and I have to respect that.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

In my humble opinion, I feel the season will resume because it almost has to. The NHL has lost a large amount of revenue, and the players have worked hard from October to March to battle for playoff positions, stats, and a chance at the Stanley Cup. To take that opportunity away is tough given the circumstances, but it would be unfortunate if there is a chance to keep the season going at some point this calendar year. Without question, the health and safety of everyone is of the utmost priority, and a return should only be done if it does not put people in more danger.

Gary Bettman made sure to reiterate, “But as soon as possible means under the right circumstances, and for that, we’re going to take our guidance from the governments at all levels and from the medical people.”

Though there has not been confirmation on when the games will resume, some sites have pushed out odds on when the season would start again. Articles found here will indicate that we will most likely see the season start in August. Good idea to check back in a few weeks to see if there are any new updates on that prediction but it is safe to assume that the season will not be cancelled at this point.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 177 that we recorded below on 5-3-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Boston Bruins: A Hat-Trick of Birthdays

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PHOTO CREDITS: (MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Today, April 28th, 2020, three current Boston Bruins players all become a year older and celebrate their birthdays – David Krejci, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon.

F David Krejci

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Krejci was born on April 28th, 1986 in Sternberk, Czechoslovakia. Krejci started his hockey career in the early 2000s playing with numerous U18 clubs in the Czech Republic – performing at over a point-per-game pace for each season. In 2003-2004, David scored 23-37-60 totals in 50 games with HC Kladno U20. This propelled him to the 2004 NHL Entry Draft where the Bruins selected him 63rd overall in the second round.

In the 2004-05 season, Krejci joined the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL to further his development as a new Bruins prospect. He played two seasons with the Olympiques, posting 49-95-144 numbers in 117 games as well as 12-29-41 numbers in 27 playoff games.

Krejci didn’t make his mark on the Boston Bruins organization until the following season when he scored 74 points in 69 regular-season games with the Providence Bruins in the AHL and scored the most playoff assists as a rookie with 13 helpers in 13 games during the ’06/’07 postseason. David played in six games with Boston but didn’t make a true impact until the next year where he skated in 56 games for the Boston Bruins.

Since then, Krejci has played in 911 regular-season NHL games, scoring 207 goals and 479 assists for 686 points. Krejci added a Stanley Cup to his resume as he led the NHL in playoff goals (12) and points (23) to help the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011. Krejci’s 103 playoff points ties him with Patrice Bergeron for the second-most points in the postseason in Boston Bruins history.

This season, the 6-foot, 187-pound forward has 13-30-43 totals in 61 games before the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on the NHL. Recently, David Krejci stated that he would like to continue playing hockey when his current contract expires in July of 2021. Whether or not Krejci plays with the Bruins after the deal ends is yet to be seen, but he will go down as one of the better Bruins of recent memory. Happy 34th Birthday, David Krejci!

D Connor Clifton

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Billy Hurst / USA Today)

Connor Clifton was born on April 28th, 1995 in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA. Clifton started his hockey journey in various United States hockey programs including the EmJHL, EJHL, and USHL. Throughout those different leagues, Clifton never played a large number of games per season but kept working. In 2012-13, Connor played with the U.S. National U18 Team in the United States Development Program (USDP) where he scored 8-15-23 numbers in 66 games.

Following that, the 5-foot-11, 174-pound defenceman was drafted 133rd overall (5th round) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. Being such a late draft selection, Clifton made his way to the NCAA to play for Quinnipiac University where he would spend the next four seasons ending in 2016-17. After two slow seasons, Clifton scored 28 points in 43 games for the Bobcats in 2015-16. That was the same season that Quinnipiac defeated Harvard to win the ECAC Championship, with Clifton winning the Tournament MVP.

Clifton captained the team in 2016-17, his final year in the NCAA, as he put up another 14 points in 39 games. After opting for free agency, Connor Clifton signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins and began his AHL career in 2017-2018. He posted 4-9-13 numbers in 54 games but went pointless in four playoff meetings. On May 3rd, 2018, the Boston Bruins signed Clifton to a two-year NHL contract, allowing him to play with the NHL team.

The New Jersey native played the bulk of the 2018-29 campaign in the AHL once again but did see 19 games of regular-season hockey with the NHL club, tallying one assist. However, it was on the Bruins’ 2019 Stanley Cup Finals run where he made an impact. “Cliffy Hockey” scored two goals and three assists in 18 playoff games and played a solid defensive game, laying heavy hits and making a name for himself with injuries on Boston’s blueline.

His performance earned him a three-year, $1 million AAV deal to re-sign with the Bruins in this past offseason. Unfortunately, though, Clifton only played 31 games in the NHL as he dealt with an upper-body injury for a large chunk of the season and then the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt on the NHL season just as Clifton was finding his way back into the lineup. Regardless, Connor will be a future regular on Boston’s d-core. Happy 25th Birthday, Connor Clifton!

D Jeremy Lauzon

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Jeremy Lauzon was born April 28th, 1997 in Val-d’Or, Quebec, Canada. Lauzon’s young hockey career started in 2010-11, playing for a few different organizations in Quebec, Canada. In 2013-14, Lauzon joined the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), where he came out of the gate with 5-11-16 numbers in 55 games and four points in 9 playoff appearances.

Lauzon had a more impressive sophomore season in the QMJHL, putting up 36 points in 60 games as a defenceman. Those numbers did something for the Bruins organization who selected the 6-foot-2, 205-pound 52nd overall (2nd round) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

The following season, in 2015-16, Boston returned Jeremy to the QMJHL where he scored 50 points during the regular season, earning himself an entry-level deal from Boston in November of 2015. In the playoffs that year, Jeremy posted 1-7-8 totals in 9 playoff games as Rouyn-Noranda won the QMJHL Championship, booking them a spot in the infamous Memorial Cup tournament. Lauzon’s Huskies made it all the way to the Finals but fell short to the London Knights.

Following one more season with the Huskies in the 2016-2017 campaign, Jeremy Lauzon finally joined the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. Lauzon, unfortunately, missed 22 games with a concussion but still played in 52 games, scoring 7 points. Lauzon made his NHL debut in the 2018-19 season and scored his first career goal in that same year.

This season, Lauzon proved to be a solid piece of Boston’s depth defensive core as he held his own in 19 games played when the other blueliners were out with injuries. In February of 2020, General Manager Don Sweeney re-signed Lauzon to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average of $850,000. Happy 23rd Birthday, Jeremy Lauzon!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 176 that we recorded below on 4-27-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Will Have Challenging Offseason With New Salary Cap Reports

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( PHOTO CREDIT: Stephanie Gois on Pinterest )

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

With the NHL on pause due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is essentially putting the entire world on hold, there have been a large number of questions regarding the future of the 2019-2020 regular-season as well as the subsequent postseason and how it may have an impact on the 2020-2021 campaign.

Today, April 17th, 2020, St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Strickland tweeted that the players of the league were informed on a call that the salary cap will remain the exact same for the upcoming season, flatlining at $81.5 million. Strickland went on to say that there were many ideas and scenarios presented to the players, including this one, and there are “several variables” that played a part in this decision.

Going back to earlier in the season, on March 4th, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly announced that the salary cap would increase from the current $81.5 million to anywhere from $84 million to $88.2 million. This, of course, was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it created a sense of security for teams around the league who have numerous players with expiring contracts come July 1st. One of those teams that would have benefited greatly from a raise in salary cap? The Boston Bruins.

Below is the full list of Boston Bruins players that have expiring deals come July 1st, 2020 as per CapFriendly:

NHL Roster:

  • F Anders Bjork – RFA
  • F Jake DeBrusk – RFA
  • F Joakim Nordstrom – UFA
  • D Torey Krug – UFA
  • D Zdeno Chara – UFA
  • D Kevan Miller – UFA
  • D Matt Grzelcyk – RFA
  • G Jaroslav Halak – UFA

AHL Roster (Providence):

  • F Brett Ritchie – RFA
  • F Zach Senyshyn – RFA
  • F Karson Kuhlman – RFA
  • F Ryan Fitzgerald – UFA G6
  • F Brendan Gaunce – RFA
  • F Peter Cehlarik – RFA
  • D Jakub Zboril – RFA
  • D Wiley Sherman – RFA
  • D Alex Petrovic – UFA
  • G Daniel Vladar – RFA
  • G Maxime Lagacé – UFA

For simplicity’s sake, in this article, we will only take a look at the eight players on the current Boston Bruins NHL roster and not the ones in the American Hockey League as the majority of them can be placed on a qualifying offer. According to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, the B’s will have roughly $20 million in available cap space to sign players this offseason.

Starting off, it is very likely the Bruins do not re-sign goaltender Jaroslav Halak. At 34-years-of-age, Halak is making $2.75 million, but with his impressive performances in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns, Halak has proven that he deserves a pay raise, and he can very well be a solid starting goaltender for a franchise who’s looking for a more experienced netminder. With funds running dry and the potential for goalies such as Daniel Vladar to become the new backup goaltender behind Tuukka Rask, it makes the most sense to move on from Halak.

To add to my releases, I do not see the Bruins re-signing forward Joakim Nordstrom. The 28-year-old has been making $1 million for each of the past two seasons and has been a solid depth player for the B’s, but it’s a spot that can be replaced by a depth player from the Baby Bruins. His short tenure with the Black and Gold is valued and appreciated, but it is, unfortunately, time to move on.

This brings us to the two restricted free-agent forwards – Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. DeBrusk has been a consistent 40-point scorer (he was only five points away from hitting 40 again this season) and last season in his sophomore campaign, scored 27 goals. Again, I look to @bruinscapspace on Twitter, who created a simple graphic on some comparable contracts for DeBrusk.

The comparables listed make it appear that DeBrusk could be looking at an average cap hit of somewhere around the $3.5 million number on likely a three or four-year contract. At a young age, DeBrusk has been a good top-six winger for the Bruins but has also faced times of inconsistency throughout his tenure. Those inconsistencies are what brings his salary cap number down. I have DeBrusk re-signing with the Bruins on a three-year, $3.5 million AAV contract. 

Anders Bjork is the other RFA forward on the Bruins roster that will return. Bjork is finishing up his entry-level contract and has played 108 regular-season games for the B’s, scoring 14-20-34 numbers during that time. Bjork has 19 points in 58 games this year, meaning he won’t ask for a large salary. For a comparable, the Penguins re-signed Zach Aston-Reese when he was 24 (Bjork is 23) for $1 million AAV for two years. Aston-Reese had a 0.38 points-per-game average in 59 games, whereas Bjork has a 0.31 points-per-game average in 108 games played. I have Anders Bjork re-signing with the Bruins on a two-year, $1.25 million contract. 

Now, the defencemen. With a doubt, the blueline of the Bruins has been the number one talking point in regards to the offseason with powerhouse defender Torey Krug and captain Zdeno Chara each on expiring deals as well as the young offensive Matt Grzelcyk and the injury-riddled Kevan Miller. With today’s news of the new salary cap, it appears to be unrealistic for all four to re-up their deals.

Earlier this month, General Manager Don Sweeney said that if the NHL season does resume this year, that defenceman Kevan Miller will likely not be healthy enough to return to the team. However, in an article by 985TheSportsHub.com writer, Ty Anderson, Sweeney said, “Our intentions are for Kevan to be 100 percent healthy so he can resume when we start the next season. We know Kevan is a UFA, so we will entertain the opportunity to bring Kevan back, and he will also entertain whether or not he wants to be back.”

Injuries have prevented Miller from playing in over a full calendar year, and for that reason, he is expendable in my eyes and I believe the Bruins will not re-sign him prior to the July 1st deadline.

At 26-years-old, Charlestown, Massachusetts native Matt Grzelcyk is the future of the Bruins defensive core and in my humble opinion, is a must re-sign. In 68 games this year, Grzelcyk has 4-17-21 numbers, a new career-high in goals, assists, and points. Grzelcyk, like Krug, is a 5-foot-9, left-handed defenceman who is primarily known for his puck handling and offensive capabilities. With room to improve as well, Grzelcyk is one of those players teams would love to have on their backend. I have the Bruins re-signing Matt Grzelcyk on a two-year, $2.5 million contract. 

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins since the 2006-07 season and ever since, has been the backbone of the leadership core in every way possible, guiding the way for countless rookies on the roster to make their mark on the league. However, at 43-years-old, Father Time is going to catch up on Chara eventually. Retirement is very likely around the corner but I doubt it happens this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Zdeno still averaged 21:01 minutes on the ice this year, proving he is still capable, so I predict he re-joins the Bruins organization. The only way this happens is on a one-year, $1.5 million contract. 

Finally, Torey Krug. Krug is the quarterback of the power-play and the driver of offense on the blueline. At 29-years-old, the Michigan native has 337 career points in 523 regular-season games and put up 9-40-49 totals in 61 games prior to the pause. With the signings above, the Bruins would have $11.25 remaining in available cap space. Krug has made it clear he would rather remain a Bruin and the message seems to be the same on the management side as well. The Bruins could re-sign Krug on a seven-year, $7 million contract, leaving just around $4 million in cap room to get depth players or even a backup goalie if they feel Vladar cannot take the role.

Before we conclude, it is fair to note that comparisons of other players league-wide are nearly impossible given the worldwide circumstances. Times are not the same whatsoever so these numbers can fluctuate entirely. In addition, the Bruins could pull off a trade if they so feel necessary to free up more cap space or pick up another piece heading into the upcoming season.

Things could be a lot worse for the Boston Bruins, but with the talent in Providence and the strong depth, it makes more players a bit more expendable. However, predictions like these are very difficult to predict and these upcoming months will be fascinating to follow.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Bruins Alumni: Happy Birthday Tommy Wingels

Tommy-Wingels-Bruins

PHOTO CREDITS: (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Happy 32nd Birthday to Former Boston Bruins Forward Tommy Wingels!!

Tommy Wingels was born on April 12th, 1988 in Evanston, Illinois, United States. Tommy began his hockey career at sixteen when he joined Team Illinois U18 team in the MWEHL (Midwest Elite Hockey League), scoring 12 points in 15 games back in 2008-09. After a season in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Wingels joined the Miami University of Ohio Redhawks.

After his first season in 2007-2008, Wingels was drafted 177th overall (6th round) by the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. From 2007-08 to 2009-10, Wingels played a combined 127 games for the NCAA team, finishing with 43-56-99 numbers including a 42-point season in ’09/’10 when he was captain of the Redhawks. Following this final year, he agreed to an entry-level deal with the Sharks.

In 2010-11, the 6-foot, 201-pound forward played in five games for the Sharks but spent the majority of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Worchester Sharks where he scored 17-13-30 numbers in 69 games played. During the 2012-13 lockout season, Wingels took to the Finnish hockey league, Mestis, playing with KooKoo for 18 games. When the NHL season resumed, Wingels returned to San Jose where he scored 13 points in 42 games.

Tommy played three-and-a-half more seasons in California until January 2017 when he was traded to the Ottawa Senators for Zach Stortini, Buddy Robinson, and a 2017 7th Round Pick. Being on an expiring contract, Wingels hit the free-agent market that offseason for the first time in his NHL career, signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks. He failed to spend a full season with the Hawks before he was shipped to the Boston Bruins at the 2018 Trade Deadline for a 2019 5th Round Draft Pick.

Tommy Wingels finished out his season with the Bruins, scoring two goals and three assists for five points in 18 games and went pointless in four games during the 2018 postseason. While his NHL career did not work out as planned, Wingels signed with Genève-Servette HC of the National League in Switzerland and has been there for two seasons. In the current 2019-20 campaign, the now 32-year-old has put up 16-23-39 numbers in 44 games before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 448 regular-season games, Tommy Wingels scored 61 goals and 82 assists for 143 points over eight years in the National Hockey League with the San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins. Happy Birthday, Tommy Wingels!

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 174 that we recorded below on 4-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!