Former Bruins Player Bronco Horvath Passes At The Age Of 89

( Photo Credit: imageshack.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Bruins organization lost a member of its family today with the announcement of the passing of 89-year-old Bronco Horvath from the official Boston Bruins Alumni Twitter Account. Horvath a longtime journeyman of the North American professional ranks spent 664 games posting 263-484-747 numbers in the American Hockey League and 434 games in the higher National Hockey League contributing 141-185-326 totals. Bronco played for six franchises in his NHL career.

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Born in Port Colbourne, Ontario Canada, Horvath spent four seasons with the Boston organization from 1957-58 to the 1960-60 campaign. In that short timeframe, he would appear in 227 games posting 103-112-215 numbers with his best season coming in the 1959-60 season where he went 39-41-80 in 68 games played tying Chicago Blackhawks great Bobby Hull for the NHL goal-scoring lead.

Per Wikipedia, Bronco spent the majority of his time playing in Boston alongside NHL Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk on the “Uke Line” accompanied by the third member of the fierce trio Vic Stasiuk. In 2015 Horvath was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame and joined fellow Bruins legendary defenseman, Eddie Shore (2006 Inductee) and former B’s Head Coach Don Cherry (2019 Inductee) as honorary members.

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The Bruins Most Prolific Scorer: Phil Esposito

phil-esposito

(Photo Credit: Tony Triolo Sports Illustrated)

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

This week I have been working on an article about where David Pastrnak’s and Brad Marchand’s seasons project in regards to the greatest Bruins seasons of all time. The problem was that as I was researching and writing the article, it started to become more about B’s legend Phil Esposito than about the aforementioned players. At that point, I figured it would probably be a good idea to just dedicate an article to Esposito himself, and here we are.

Esposito was born on February 20, 1942, in the city of Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Province of Canada. His younger brother Tony was born in 1943 and legend has it that Phil forced his baby brother to play goal so that he could practice his shooting. Whatever they did back then, it appears to have worked out pretty well, as both are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The elder Esposito was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks and was told to join the Sarnia Legionnaires. He was a high-scoring player even as a teen, putting up 47 goals and 61 assists in only 32 games for his Junior B team. The following season he moved up to play for the St Catherines Teepees in the OHA-Jr league (sort of a precursor to the modern-day OHL). The jump in the competition didn’t seem to slow him down, and he recorded 32 goals and 39 assists (71 points) for the Teepees in 49 games.

In today’s NHL, a scorer like Esposito would have probably gotten a long look for the big club, but things worked differently back then. Despite his scoring prowess, when Esposito turned pro, he was assigned to the St. Louis Braves of the EPHL/CPHL. These leagues were started by the NHL and fully controlled by them in an attempt to have more control over the development of players. At the time, other professional leagues like the AHL existed but did not have strong relationships with NHL teams they do now. His first season with the Braves Esposito had 36g/54a in 71 games but was not called up. The following year (1962-63), he produced 24g/54a in only 43 games and got the call-up. In 27 NHL games that year, at the age of 20, Esposito had 3g/2a. While not the most auspicious start, he showed enough to the Chicago brass to earn a spot in the NHL for good.

Espo-CHI

(Photo Credit: The Hockey Writers)

He spent the next three seasons in Chicago, Espo put up some very good numbers. In 208 regular-season games in the Windy City, he had 71 goals and 98 assists, much of the time centering Bobby Hull. What a lot of fans today may not know is that despite these stats, Chicago did not see Esposito as a good “fit” for the team.  When the Blackhawks were eliminated in the 1966-67 semifinals by eventual Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs, Esposito had zero points in the six playoff games that postseason. He shouldered much of the blame from fans (and apparently staff) after the loss to the Leafs. The NHL was expanding from six to twelve teams in June of 1967, and the “Original 6” teams were going to lose a significant amount of players. Despite his statistics, the Blackhawks still considered Esposito an unproven talent and had no plans to protect him. So, on May 15th, 1967 (immediately before the rosters were frozen for the expansion draft), they dealt him and young forwards Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to the struggling Bruins franchise for veteran center Pit Martin (who they saw as Esposito’s replacement), 22 year-old defenseman Gilles Marotte, and minor league goalie Jack Norris.

The Blackhawks saw the three players they dealt to Boston as underachievers who would not be missed by the NHL club. The centerpiece to the trade in their mind was the promising young Marotte, who had been paired in Boston with defense partner Bobby Orr. They (and many others) thought at the time they had fleeced the Bruins and their new GM, Milt Schmidt. Of course, over the next eight-plus seasons, this would be proven to be the furthest thing from the truth, as the Bruins would establish themselves as one of the dominant NHL clubs of the early and mid-’70s.

The long term benefits notwithstanding, the trade also paid immediate dividends for both Boston and Esposito. In his first year with the Bruins, he was named Assistant Captain and had 35 goals and 49 assists in 74 games, good for second in the NHL. Former teammate Stan Makita was the only one who finished above him (with 87 points). More importantly to Boston fans, the Bruins made the playoffs for the first time since the 1958-59 season. While they were swept in the first round by the eventual Cup-champion Canadians, it would mark the start of a 29 year consecutive run of playoff seasons in Boston.

The following season would result in more milestones for both Esposito and the team. In 1968-69 Esposito would become the first NHL player to reach 100 points in a season in the league’s history. Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe would also reach the century mark that year, but Esposito would hit it first and lead the league with 126 points during the regular season (49g/77a). This season would also start to establish Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Wayne Cashman as one of the most feared lines of the early ’70s. Hodge finished 5th in the NHL in scoring with 90 points (45 goals) and Cashman added 31 points in just 51 games. These numbers were due in large part to Esposito’s skill and influence. The Bruins as a team also improved, sweeping a series against Toronto, including outscoring them 17-0 (10-0 and 7-0) in games one and two at home. The Bruins would lose to Montreal again, but this time in a hard-fought six-game series in the Semifinals. Montreal would go on to sweep the St. Louis Blues for yet another Cup. Not the ending the Bruins were hoping for, but things were certainly looking up.

espo 2

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins Alumni)

The next season, Esposito would take a bit of a step back from a personal standpoint. In 1969-70, he “only” produced 43 goals and 56 assists for 99 points in 76 regular-season games. That would be good enough for second in the NHL, behind teammate Bobby Orr, who finished with 120 points (33g/87a). Despite the slight fall off for Espo, the Bruins as a team improved to the highest level. After tying Chicago for first overall with 99 points, the B’s faced the NY Rangers in the first round and defeated them in six games. Next up was the Blackhawks, and Esposito would get a measure of revenge on his old team with a four-game sweep. The Finals pitted Boston against the St. Louis Blues, who were there for the third straight year representing the West. The Bruins made short work of the Blues, sweeping them 4-0 and bringing the Cup back to Boston for the first time since 1941. Esposito finished the playoffs with 27 points (13g/14a) in fourteen games.

Over the next five seasons, Espo would help the B’s win a second Cup and from 1970-71 through 1974-75, he would score an absolutely unbelievable 326 goals and add 361 assists. His point total over those five years (687) was only seven less than Hall of Famer Cam Neely accumulated over his entire career. Production like that will more than likely never be equaled.

Unfortunately, things did not end smoothly for Esposito in Boston. During the 1975-76 season, coming off a 127 point campaign the year before, he reportedly became upset over the Bruins asking him to take a reduced role at the age of 33. After winning two Cups, two Hart Trophies, and five Art Ross trophies, Esposito left town the same way he arrived, via the trade. He was moved in November of 1975, along with defenseman Carol Vadnais for Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, and Joe Zanussi. He played in New York for five more seasons before retiring in 1981 at the age of 38. In New York, Esposito never attained the same level of success he had in Boston, but he still managed 404 points in 422 games while he played in the “Big Apple”.

espo ny

(Photo Credit: Denis Brodeur 1980 NHLI)

Three years later, in 1984, Esposito would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Three years after that, he would be involved in another remarkable ceremony, as the Bruins would retire Esposito’s famous number 7 jersey. The jersey was being worn at the time by a young player that would eventually become a B’s legend, Ray Bourque. Esposito had told Bourque he wanted him to keep wearing the number and assumed the proceedings would be strictly for “show”. Bourque surprised Espo and the team as well by removing the 7 jersey and revealing a number 77 jersey underneath that he would sport for the rest of his career in Boston, allowing Esposito’s jersey to be raised to the rafters.

After years of acrimony towards the Bruins because of the trade to New York, Bourque’s gesture went a long way towards healing the relationship between Esposito and the B’s. While the hard feelings may never completely go away, the jersey retirement was a fitting way for the Bruins organization to pay homage to it’s greatest goal scorer.

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Bruins Post-Game Recap: Boston at Toronto: 11/15/19

tavares-bergeron-leafs-bruins.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (@MapleLeafs on Twitter)

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

On the hands of a devastating 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers earlier in the week, the Boston Bruins are coming in tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs before another game tomorrow against the Washington Capitals in hopes of ending their current four-game losing skid.

For Toronto, they are coming into the game losing each of their last two meetings with a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders fresh in their mind only two nights ago. Toronto will be without forward Mitch Marner and Alexander Kerfoot due to injuries that will keep them out for the next few weeks. The Leafs are currently out of a playoff spot and will look to rebound here tonight against their biggest rival.

Tonight, the six most-recent inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame will be present in the stands as the NHL celebrates it’s annual Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

Pre-Game Notes:

Arena: Scotiabank Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Home: Toronto Maple Leafs (9-7-4)

Away: Boston Bruins (11-3-4)

Last Bruins Result: 5-4 SO loss vs FLA

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 7-2-2 2.16 GAA .926 SV% Last Game: 25 Saves in 5-4 SO loss to FLA

TOR: Frederik Andersen 9-3-3 2.72 GAA .912 SV% Last Game: 25 Saves in 5-4 loss to NYI

Bruins Gameday Lineup:

Bruins forwards Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn, Brett Ritchie, Karson Kuhlman, and David Backes are all out with injuries while defensemen Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, and John Moore remain out of the gameday lineup. Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said on Thursday that Brett Ritchie is the only one that has a chance to play tomorrow against the Capitals.

First Period:

Following a great ceremony to honor the Hall of Fame inductees, the two teams get underway. In the opening five minutes or so, the Bruins had the better of the puck possession even though the Leafs took an early lead in the shot department. Just about seven minutes in, Andreas Johnsson manages to get around Charlie McAvoy for a partial breakaway, but Rask makes the pad stop. Less than a minute after, Pastrnak gets a brilliant chance right in front of the net but is robbed by Andersen – we got a game ladies and gentlemen.

Halfway through the opening frame, both teams are going back-and-forth still. The puck seems to be taking bounces and deflections off of bodies on either side of the ice and the physicality is through the roof. Chris Wagner landed a big hit on Trevor Moore in the neutral zone and Trent Frederic has landed numerous hits of his own already. Connor Clifton too:

With about seven minutes left in the period, the Maple Leafs get the best few chances of the game so far with a couple really close shots that were towards an open Bruins net but the shot either missed or was blocked by a Bruin in front. Boston manages to recover and get it out of the zone.

Right after that, Matt Grzelcyk had the puck behind Frederik Andersen and makes a slick pass to Charlie Coyle who was open in that bumper spot that Patrice Bergeron has had success in and buries the game’s first goal, 1-0 Bruins. Great sequence from Boston who dealt with the onslaught of Toronto for a few minutes to bring the play right-back against a tired Leafs line and capitalize, taking some momentum away from the home Toronto crowd.

With 5:51 remaining in the first, the Bruins take the first penalty of the game as David Pastrnak gets sent to the box for two minutes for interference. Toronto needs a tying goal here on the power-play before the buzzer sounds. However, Boston says no to that idea and make a strong kill, back to five-on-five. Leafs fail to get even a single shot on the man-advantage.

3:23 shows on the score clock in the Scotiabank Arena and the Toronto Maple Leafs take their first penalty. Nic Shore gets called on a holding minor. Unlike the Bruins, they struggle to get any momentum at all on the power-play and just looked out of sorts, failing to move the puck around enough and the Maple Leafs successfully kill it off late in this period.

The first period ends after a couple icings by the B’s. Fairly competitive twenty minutes of hockey that sees Boston holding a one-to-nothing lead over Toronto. Solid two-way hockey and much of the same is needed for a full 60-minutes.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 9 TOR: 8

Score: 1-0 Bruins – Goals: Coyle (3) Assists: Grzelcyk (4), Bjork (1)

Second Period:

Again in the opening minutes of the period, the Bruins are showing really good focus and confidence in their game and it has been working out well. Patrice Bergeron has been fantastic on the defensive side of the puck and after each whistle, there seems to be more and more shoving. Tensions are running high as usual with Boston and Toronto.

Toronto is still getting their brief moments of attacks as they have become known for in the past few seasons, but Tuukka Rask has done his job in between the pipes with some big saves. Rask hasn’t been great as of late but looks dialed in thus far.

As Toronto builds momentum, they manage to cycle the puck from behind the Bruins net to Jake Muzzin who one-times it towards the net. Auston Matthews gets his stick on the puck, deflecting it past Tuukka Rask. The on-ice officials reviewed the play for a potential high-stick on the deflection, but after a short review, the goal stands and the Maple Leafs officially ties the game at one.

Boston has a great chance to sway the momentum back to them immediately after the tying marker after a brutal hit by Charlie McAvoy that resulted in a breakaway for Sean Kuraly only moments later. However, Kuraly tries too hard to find a corner on Frederik Andersen and ends up missing the net high and wide.

Later on in the period, Boston gets their second opportunity on a man-advantage when Andreas Johnsson gets caught tripping Charlie McAvoy near the offensive blueline and he goes to the box for two minutes. Boston gets a few really good shots including a great chance for Bergeron off a rebound chance that hits the outside of the post, penalty comes to an end – back to even-strength.

Within the final few minutes of the middle regulation period, Boston makes a few bad turnovers that leads to a wide-open John Tavares with a chance to snipe one past Rask, but he takes a slash from Bergeron that makes him miss the net. Boston to the penalty-kill again. Tuukka Rask made two key saves on a pair of Matthews one-timers, giving Boston the chance to make the kill and they indeed do, five-on-five once again.

Not nearly as good as a period for Boston, but they manage to make it to the intermission tied at one.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 19 TOR: 25

Score: 1-1 – Goals: Matthews (14) Assists: Muzzin (8), Nylander (9)

Third Period:

No time wasted. Boston wins the opening faceoff of the period and they bring it in with Brad Marchand. Marchand takes a wrist shot on net and Andersen leaves a rebound right there for Marchand who shoots it again, this time crossing the goal line and the Bruins take a 2-1 lead eleven seconds into the third period of play.

Boston’s lead does not last long as less than four minutes into the third, the Bruins have a terrible miscommunication in their own zone, resulting in Kasperi Kapanen being all alone and he beats Rask with the shot. This hockey game is tied at two goals apiece with sixteen minutes left to play.

That does not last long either, Charlie Coyle works hard along the end boards behind Andersen, feeding Marchand in the slot. Marchand fakes a wrist shot as he gathers the puck, shoots a shot that’s blocked, but gets his own rebound to bury it again. Three goals in 4:57, Bruins score 1:12 after Toronto’s goal, 3-2 Bruins.

The B’s continue their offensive opportunities shortly after the midway mark of the third period as the first-line of Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak gets more than one really good chance to score, but Andersen stops it. Boston is putting a lot of shots towards the net, creating rebounds from the puck hitting either Andersen or the traffic in front of the net.

As the game is winding down, the Leafs are clearly trying for a hail mary play to tie this hockey game. They have iced the puck on numerous occasions in hopes of getting a long-distance pass for an odd-man rush. Boston has done a solid job thus far limiting speed in the neutral zone in the final regulation frame.

With 1:30 left to tick away, captain Zdeno Chara buries the empty-net goal to give Boston a two-goal advantage. Leafs captain John Tavares shatters his stick across the post in frustration and Boston will end their four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Shots on Goal: BOS: 34 TOR: 31

Final Score: 4-2 Bruins

Max’s Three Stars:

1st Star: BOS F Brad Marchand – 2 Goals (GWG), 7 Shots, 1 Hit, 18:21 TOI

2nd Star: BOS G Tuukka Rask – 29 Saves, .935 SV%

3rd Star: BOS F Charlie Coyle – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 1 Block, 19:13 TOI

Boston is right back at it tomorrow against the Washington Capitals in the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins are now 12-3-4 on the season.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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Bruins O’Ree Being Lobbied For Medal

(Photo Credits: The Great Black Heroes)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

The Congressional Gold Medal is awarded to those that “have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.” Only eight athletes have ever received that honor, and this year if the NHL has its way, former Bruins player Willie O’Ree will be bestowed the award. It’s been reported that several NHL execs flew into Washington to help garner support in getting O’Ree the consideration.

NHL lobbies for Willie O'Ree to get Congressional Gold Medal(Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Along with the NHL, Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) has been lobbying for O’Ree to be considered for the Medal. Scott introduced the legislation to get the former NHLer the recognition. The Senator met with O’Ree recently on Capital Hill and spoke very highly of the “Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey”:

You were the grandson of slaves from South Carolina…I would like to put the icing on the cake from my perspective that this country continues to evolve in the right direction.

That in a time and date when there’s so much incivility, so much division and polarization, the one thing you represent today is what you represented in 1958, is that in this country, all things are possible…Thank you for being a trailblazer in a sport that I would imagine, even today people are unaware of the significant role that you played in opening the door.”

The high honor comes on the heels  after O’Ree was inducted into the NHL Hall Of Fame for breaking the color barrier in 1958 when he suited up for the Boston Bruins. As chronicled earlier this year, O’Ree has been a prominent figure in the Ice Hockey Community  where he has worked hard to bring the sport to minority and undeserved children. In 1996, O’Ree became the NHL’s first-ever Diversity Ambassador and helped develop the Hockey is for Everyone youth organization.

O’Ree was playing with the Quebec Senior Hockey League with the Quebec Aces when he was called by the Bruins to replace an injured player. Little did he realize that he would be crossing the color-lines when he played the against the Montreal Canadiens on January 18th, 1958.  

“To me, I didn’t know I was breaking the color barrier until the next morning when I read it in the paper.”

(Photo Credits: Postmedia Network)

And to add more to this significant moment, O’Ree lost 95 percent of his vision in his right eye due being hit in eye by a puck and had the Boston Bruins known this, there might have been a chance he never would’ve gotten the call:

“I didn’t let that stop me. Back then, they didn’t have physicals like the ones given today. I could still see out of my left eye. I wanted to play and I did what I had to do to compensate for the injury…Being a left-handed shot and playing left wing to compensate, I had to turn my head all the way around to the right and look over my right shoulder to pick the puck up.”

O’Ree has received many awards in his time including being inducted into the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame, the recipient of the Lester Patrick Award (given annually for hockey service in the Unites States)  and was honored in 2008 with the naming of the Willie O’Ree Place at the Fredericton Arena in New Brunswick.

Little did he know the impact he would have for future black players in the NHL and the path he laid down.  In a touching tribute,  former Flyers now Devils player Wayne Simmonds wrote of the impact O’Ree had on him as a child and credits him with achieving his dreams of playing in the NHL:

“…none of it ever would’ve happened without Mr O’Ree opening the door-not just for me, but for every black hockey player with a dream…For every single kid who was ever told to ‘stick to basketball’, Willie was like the first man on the moon.”

And despite enduring the racial insults, threats and fights, O’Ree kept going:

“I’m not going to leave the league because there’s somebody there that feels that he wants to agitate me and get me out of the game”

(Photo Credits: Stephen MacGillivray / The Canadian Press)

The young 83-year-old NHL legend has a good chance at winning one of the highest honors given to a civilian and O’Ree could be none the happier:

“It would rank right at the top, the highest award probably that I’ve ever get as far as my lifetime. I’m thrilled and if it happens, I’d be very honored to come back and receive this award.”

Willie O’Ree, Bruins Legend, Inducted Into HHOF

Related image(Photo Credit: HHOF)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

When the NHL celebrated its “Centennial Memories” campaign with 100 of the greatest moments in hockey history last Spring, many of the clips featured highlight-reel goals & saves, Stanley Cup championships & champions, and unforgettable interviews with living legends of the game. But one very specific clip — a tribute if you will — resonated not only all throughout the city of Boston, but also most of Canada & Southern California as well. And that clip, that tribute, that truly inspiring story featured a player who literally & figuratively changed the face of the game, breaking the NHL’s color barrier in the process — Bruins No. 22, Mr. Willie O’Ree:

To say O’Ree had a ground-breaking moment in the history of hockey, as well as the history of a racially-charged Boston, would be an understatement, especially when you consider the era of his playing debut and the overall culture of a sport as white as the ice it’s played on. Look no further than the wonderfully insightful article written by friend of the Black N’ Gold Blog Scott Burnside from The Athletic, who interviewed an emotional O’Ree shortly after the now 83-year-old got the life-changing call he was headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame:

“O’Ree’s first NHL game was a Saturday night, Jan. 18, 1958, in Montreal. He and his Boston teammates then took a train to Boston for a return engagement against the powerful Canadiens the next day.

O’Ree overcame the barriers, both physical and societal, to become an NHL player at a time when there were but six NHL teams, and he did so having lost his sight in one eye courtesy of a deflected puck in the mid-1950s. He also had to face the kind of prejudice that has sadly driven many boys and girls from the sport over the years….

If this was how it was going to be in the NHL, the taunts, the violence, the hatred, maybe he wasn’t cut out for it, he thought.”

Many fans, players, coaches, managers & leaders throughout the game are certainly glad he thought wrong. So was O’Ree, despite his NHL playing career only lasting a mere 45-games (although he continued playing professionally until his early 40’s in the Western & Pacific Hockey Leagues, respectively).

Yet, looking back, O’Ree’s legacy wasn’t about what he did on the ice — although overcoming both societal (being the game’s first black player) & physical challenges (being legally blind in one eye) to actually have a successful hockey-playing career was about as impressive of an athletic accomplishment as anyone could endure during that time frame. It’s about all that he did for the game off the ice. Going back to Burnside:

“The search was on for someone to help become the face of the NHL’s diversity task force, someone who could be a conduit to communities where hockey was not a given…

O’Ree always wanted to get back in the game, and when [it was] proposed that O’Ree work with the league and USA Hockey visiting girls and boys at rinks, schools and even correctional facilities around the country, talking about his journey and the game, O’Ree thought that might be a good fit.

Little did he know that this wouldn’t be just a job but also a labor of love.”

A labor of love he’s continuing to this day, and one that continues to be recognized by people in all facets of hockey, sport & society as a whole. Ten years ago, O’Ree sat down with CBS (where I anchored & reported for the better part of a decade) to talk about everything he had endured, accomplished and what he still wanted to do for hockey. It was intimate, revealing, and emotional but above all, it captured the essence of why the man is so revered all the way from Revere to San Diego to now Toronto, Ontario:

This aired just after O’Ree had celebrated the 50th anniversary of breaking hockey’s color barrier. Now, with the 60th anniversary celebrations continuing throughout 2018, O’Ree’s career & contributions to the game are being shared even more, especially with social media having such a lasting & profound reach.

O'Ree 60.jpeg(Photo Credit: NHL)

So, how will O’Ree’s outreach impact the game, the NHL, Boston and countless young players all across the United States & Canada moving forward for the former forward? I think it’s a safe bet to assume he won’t be too far away from a rinkside view, especially in Allston where the B’s Foundation, team and community went “all in” to dedicate a special rink to O’Ree this year!

Just like Burnside discovered, O’Ree’s presence, personality & penchant for always finding the time to talk hockey with anyone, anywhere, will be remembered even more than his spirited play, which goes to show how genuinely affable, relatable & altruistic he was and continues to be to everyone he encounters:

“Even during his playing days, O’Ree was always the last one on the team bus, always taking time for one more picture, one more autograph, one last bit of conversation with fans young and old.

O’Ree would like to see more coaches of color, more executives, scouts, the gamut. And beyond the rink…

…there’s something more than a little comforting in knowing that O’Ree isn’t going anywhere but to his next stop as he makes his way past those flags and back to a car that will take him to an airport and to another meeting with young people eager to hear his story.”

And this is a story that will be told long after O’Ree has left us and left behind his legacy — one that rightfully will now always be remembered, and enshrined, in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Image result for willie o'ree hockey hall of fameImage result for willie o'ree hockey hall of fame

(Photo Credits: HHOF)

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The Greatest Centers In Bruins History

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three

(Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/AP)
By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Being center in the NHL is an important job, and with the recent speculation as to who would fill that open spot on the third-line center for Boston, we wanted to highlight the few players that made their mark for the Bruins. Usually lists are open for debate, however, we think you will agree with these players. Most picks are obvious, while some may be new to younger fans. In no particular order, we present the greatest centers in Bruins history:

1. Patrice Bergeron

What more can be said about number 37? He is the player that every other player in the league strives to be and he does it with little fanfare. Humble, hardworking and one of the league’s premier two-way player, there’s little question that he would land on this list. And Bergeron is as tough as they come. After the loss in Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, it was established that Patrice played with a punctured lung, separated shoulder, a fractured rib, and a fractured nose. It’s no wonder he is highly respected on and off the ice, so much so that Bergeron has been voted for numerous awards, most notably the Frank J. Selke Trophy. That particular one is given annually to an NHL forward with best defensive skills.

“He’s the barometer of our hockey club. I played with a lot of good players here, and I’ve seen a lot of good players come through. He is one of the best players I’ve ever seen play this game.” – General Manager Don Sweeney

For the Selke Trophy, the Québec-native is tied with Bob Gainey for most wins in NHL history and last season saw Bergeron being named a finalist for the seventh-consecutive season. So far, he has won the award four times. In 2011 after winning the Stanley Cup, Bergeron became the 26th member of the Triple Gold Club which includes players that have won Olympic Gold medal, a World Championship gold medal, and the Stanley Cup. And if you want to win a face-off, Bergeron is the player you want on the ice. According to Puck Base, last season he won 57.3% of his face-off draws. In his illustrious 15 year career with the Bruins, he has so far played 965 games and garnered 289 goals and 445 assists.

2. Peter McNab

The 6-foot-3 center played more than 950 NHL games and reached the 20 goal-mark 10 times during his career. The Vancouver native played for nine years with the Boston Bruins and netted 40 goals twice while playing for the black and gold. He was instrumental during the 70s and played alongside Terry O’Reilly and Rick Middleton. With his quick skills, McNab helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1977 and 1978 and played on the 1977 NHL All-Star team. He played with the Bruins from 1976-1984. In the 595 games he played for Boston, he potted 263 goals with 324 assists. And one could not talk about McNab without mentioning that infamous shoe brawl. During a game versus the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in 1979, McNab and several other Bruins climbed into the stands after a fan hit a Bruins player with a rolled up program (and taking his stick). Following Terry O’Reilly, McNab headed up to the stands (according to Don Cherry, this was out of character for him) and was soon joined by Milbury, who removed that fan’s shoe and proceeded to strike him.

McNab is among the team’s top 10 leaders in goals, points and playoff scoring.

3. Milt Schmidt

As one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history, Schmidt is a hockey legend. As a player, coach and general manager, Schmidt was the embodiment of a Bruin, and those who saw him on the ice noted his hard stick-nosed play and smooth skills. As part of the famous “Kraut Line” that included childhood friends and fellow Hall of Famers Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, Schmidt would lead the league in scoring and help propel the Bruins to win two Stanley Cups in 3 years. During the 1939-40 season, Schmidt had 52 points while Dumart and Bauer had 43 points each. With the break-out of World War II, Schmidt (along with Dumart and Bauer) enlisted and missed three seasons playing in the NHL.

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(Photo Credits: NHL.com)

Upon returning from the war, Schmidt never stopped being productive on the ice. During the 1946-1947 season, the center posted 27 goals with 35 assists. When he retired during the 1955-56 season, Schmidt’s had amassed 229 goals with 575 points, (then a Bruins record) in 776 games. He was also given the coaching reins of the Bruins until 1963 when Phil Watson took over, however, took over again shortly thereafter. The Bruins were floundering, and Watson was unable to rejuvenate the team.

He stayed on as GM until 1973 and enjoyed two Stanley Cups with Boston. And to talk about Schmidt one would need to acknowledge the greatest accomplishment: the deal that resulted in the signings of Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, and Fred Stanfield. It is still regarded as of the most lopsided deals in the NHL history.

In all, he played 86 Stanley Cup playoff games where he netted a total of 24 goals with 49 points. Schmidt won the Art Ross Trophy in 1940, and in 1951 he won the Hart Trophy. In 1961, Schmidt was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

4. Bill Cowley

Hart Trophy winner, NHL lead scorer, Stanley Cup Winner and Hall of Famer. Bill Cowley accomplished all that while playing for the Bruins. He was also chosen to the first All-Star Team in 1938, 1941, 1943 and 1944. In 1945, he was named to the Second All-Star Team. Cowley was known for his superb stick handling and speed. Thanks to the advice of defenseman Babe Siebert (who took the coach aside urging him to “Put him (Cowley) at center…the kid can fly”), Cowley was moved from left wing to center.

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(Photo Credit: IceHockey Wikia)

Cowley was a star in Boston and had been part of the 1939 and 1941 Stanley Cup winning team. The Bristol Quebec-native played for the Bruins for 11 seasons before retiring after the 1946-47 season. He suffered from a laundry list of injuries: fractured left hand, jaw, torn ligaments, and a shoulder separation. Cowley finished his NHL career netting 195 goals with 353 assists for 548 points in 549 games. In 1968, he was elected into the Hall of Fame.

5. Phil Esposito

They say Esposito enjoyed his glory years playing for the Boston Bruins. Considered to be one of the greatest centers and forwards of all-time, he made quite the impact for the Black and Gold. Esposito was also regarded as a colorful character and simply put, did things his way. Whether it was superstitious rituals prior to a game or being accused as a “glory seeker,” Esposito could score. In 1971 he had 550 shots on goal, a record that has yet to be broken (Alexander Ovechkin would come within 100 shots of that record).

Esposito, to me, was one of the most colorful person ever in the NHL. I have to laugh when people would say he scored ‘garbage goals.’ Phil would laugh too and say, ‘Who cares what they call them. They all look like slap shots in next morning’s papers. Who cares how they go in, as long as they count?’ -Former coach Don Cherry

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(Photo Credit: Alchetron.com)

Espo played alongside Ken Hodge and Ron Murphy, that trio decimated opponents and had a scoring record of 263 points. Espo also centered one of the most renowned forward lines with Ken Hodge and Wayne Cashman. During the 1970-71 season, Esposito finished the season with 76 goals, a record that would be shattered in 1982 by Wayne Gretzky. He was on the First Team All-Star in 1969, 1971-1975. Espo was voted for the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP in 1969 and 1974. He also led the league in scoring in 1969, 1972-1974. As part of the Big, Bad Bruins, the team won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972.

In 1984, he was elected into the Hall of Fame and had his No. 7 retired by the Boston Bruins. During the emotional ceremony, Ray Bourque revealed his new number as he “surrendered” his jersey for Esposito.

Who you think should make this list? Comment below!

Bruins Retired Numbers: Possible Next-In-Line Candidates

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

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

Recently, the Boston Bruins announced that Rick “Nifty” Middleton will join the likes of Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, Milt Schmidt and all the other retired numbers along the rafters inside of the TD Garden.

Middleton was one of the best goal-scorers in Bruins history, finishing his career ranked third-most in goals as well as the fourth-most points scored over all of the former Bruin players. Without question, Middleton deserves to have his number retired and according to many, the decision to raise his banner to the rafters was long overdue.

One of the fortunate things of cheering for an Original Six franchise in the National Hockey League is that your team most likely has countless players who can be considered ‘great’ and the Boston Bruins are no different. Since joining the league back in 1928, the B’s have had some of the best players skate with the Spoked-B on their chest, (or a bear, depending on the era).

Following my article on Middleton’s number being retired on November 29th, I came across the thought – who’s next? By which I mean, what Bruin will be the next to have their unique number forever retired by the organization. Gerry Cheevers, Tiny Thompson, Wayne Cashman, and other Bruins could have their name in the conversation, but so could current Bruins such as Zdeno Chara or Patrice Bergeron. It is nearly inevitable that those two will gain the legendary status, but will one of them be the next one?

So within this article, I’ll go over three players who I believe could have their number retired by the Boston Bruins and you can feel free to voice your personal thoughts and opinions regarding the matter. The players listed will be in no particular order, just the three most-likely in my own opinion. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Gerry Cheevers – #30

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JOHN BLANDING/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 1980)

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario back in 1940, Gerry Cheevers is one of the most iconic goaltenders in Bruins history and even of all-time. With the legendary stitched mask that nearly every single hockey fan who has been watching for any amount of time has at least heard of or seen Cheevers’ mask.

Playing with the Bruins during the era of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and company, Cheevers often went under the radar when it comes to the Bruin superstars of the early 1970’s. Gerry was monumental to both the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup wins, going a combined 18-3 throughout both postseasons.

Before the Cups, Cheevers was still considered one of the best to play the position at the time. After some subpar and some decent years between 1965-66 and 1967-68, Cheevers would find real success for the first time in the ’68/’69 campaign, where he finished the year with a 27-12-13 record, but only a .911 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.80. During the playoffs of the same year, Cheevers went 6-3-0, winning with three shutouts. The Bruins would lose to the Canadiens in the semi-finals, but the dominance and skill of Cheevers were noticed.

The following season, in 1969-1970, Cheevers had an amazing 24-8-8 record once the season came to a close, four of the wins being shutouts. Cheevers holds the NHL record for longest undefeated streak as a goalie (32 games, 24-0-8). Of course, the postseason for the Bruins that year was as historical as historical gets. Bruins only lost two games during the entire postseason, including sweeps over the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues. Bobby Orr would score his famous Flying Goal in the final game against the Blues, and Gerry Cheevers would go 12-1-0.

For the next two seasons, Cheevers would continue his domination between the posts, producing a 54-13-13 record in the two years combined. As we all know it, the Bruins would have another successful season in the 1971-72 season, winning their second Stanley Cup in three years. Cheevers would help with the Cup victory with six wins and only two losses over the course of the playoff rounds.

In the summer of 1972, however, Gerry would leave the National Hockey League and sign a seven-year, $1.4 million contract in the World Hockey Association (WHA) with the Cleveland Crusaders. It was believed that this would his final contract of his career, but instead, he would request a buyout after the fourth year and would return to the Bruins to play for the majority of the next four campaigns.

Gerry never cared about his own statistics, once saying that he doesn’t care how many goals he allowed, as long as the Bruins scored one more. The shutouts and trophies were not a big deal to him, just the Stanley Cup. He finished his career with one of the best win/loss ratio in the playoffs (53-34). Cheevers retired in 1980 following knee problems. Below is a paragraph from the Hockey Hall of Fame website about how Cheevers became known for his iconic mask.

“During practice in the 1968-69 season, he began what was to be his most famous trademark – painting stitches on his mask to indicate where a puck had hit him. “I was trying to get out of practice one day,” he explained, “when this shot that couldn’t have broken an egg hit me in the mask. I faked a serious injury and went into the dressing room. I was sitting there having a Coke when Harry Sinden came in and told me to get back out onto the ice. All the guys were laughing, so I knew I had to do something. I told the trainer to paint a 30-stitch gash on the mask. Then I went out and told Harry, See how bad it is!” In ensuing years, he periodically added more scars, and his mask became a symbol of the first generation of mask-wearing goalies demonstrating the safety of face protection.”

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Cheevers was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.

Patrice Bergeron – #37

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PHOTO CREDITS: (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

This one may be a tad bit too soon to bring into the discussion as Bergeron still plays in the NHL to this day. It is nearly guaranteed that one day Patrice Bergeron will be in the Hockey Hall of Fame and will have his number up with the greatest Bruins to ever wear the sweater. The question is, will he be the next player to have his number retired?

Probably not is the quick answer to that, but there is a slight possibility that Bergeron could beat out the likes of Gerry Cheevers or any other already-retired Bruin to get his name and number on a banner in the TD Garden.

Regarded by many as the best two-way forward in the league right now, Bergeron has prided himself on not only being good offensively but also responsible in his own end. Not a single player in NHL history has more Frank J. Selke Trophies than Bergeron, who is tied with Canadiens’ legend Bob Gainey with four trophies each.

Bob Gainey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and has his number retired by Montreal on February 23rd, 2008. He had a career plus/minus rating of +201, scored 239-262-501 totals in 1160 career games. Gainey scored 34 game-winning goals and had 585 penalty minutes.

If we use Bergeron as a comparison to Gainey, Bergeron seems to overtake Gainey regarding production. In only 963 career games, Patrice has 289-445-734 totals and a +155 rating. He has 59 game-winning goals and 366 penalty minutes. Bergeron also has an insane takeaways-to-giveaways ratio, currently possessing 510 takeaways and only 270 giveaways.

There is only one main thing that Gainey has over Bergeron – four more Stanley Cup rings. However, Bergeron has more points (86) in fewer playoff games (112) than Bob Gainey (73 points in 182 playoff games). While offense does not necessarily mean one player is better than another, it sure makes a difference when both players have equal trophies for best defensive forward in the league.

While Patrice leads in certain categories, the categories he does not lead he can make up for. At only 33-years-old, Bergeron has a few more years remaining in his career, and the stats will only increase. Already, Bergeron is seventh all-time in points by a Boston Bruin, only 54 behind Wayne Cashman for sixth.

Bergeron represents not only what it is like to be a Boston Bruin, but what it is like to be a hockey player. From playing with a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscle tissue, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, to mentoring the future players of the organization on and off the ice. An almost certain future captain once current captain Zdeno Chara retires, Bergeron deserves to have his #37 retired, but will he be the next one – that’s the question.

Zdeno Chara – #33

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zdeno Chara is also one of the current players on this list that will most likely have his number raised to the rafters in the TD Garden. The tallest player in NHL history has made a name for himself in this league for two things – his hard shot and being the captain to end the 39-year Cup drought in Boston.

A former third-round draft pick of the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, Chara has gained a reputation for being a tall, scary force to all opposing players or teams. Since joining the Bruins in 2006, he would play the sixth-most games in a Bruins sweater (893).

As soon as he signed his five-year, $37,500,000 contact with Boston, he was handed the task of wearing the prestigious ‘C,’ becoming the new captain of the B’s, a position held by Joe Thornton for the previous three seasons and he would not disappoint. The five-year span, scoring 68-164-232 totals in the 398 games, not to mention five All-Star Game appearances and a James Norris Memorial Trophy in the 2008-09 season.

As we all remember so vividly, Chara would finish the contract by lifting the Stanley Cup above his head in June of 2011. However, the Bruins did not want to prolong the extension of Chara, as they had already agreed to a seven-year contract, a deal that would come into effect in 2011-12.

In 495 games on the new contract, Chara scored seventy goals, 151 assists for 221 points and a +124 rating as well as just shy of 1000 hits in the time span alone, tallying 960 bone-crushing hits total in the seven years. While the point totals for Chara never reached his career-high of fifty-two set back in the 2011-12 season, he would consistently produce 20+ points, with the exception of the 2012-13 lockout season, where he tallied only nineteen.

Following a one-year contract extension this past March, the 41-year-old is guaranteed to play one more season in the National Hockey League. If he retires after the season and playoffs conclude, he may just find himself atop the list for the next Bruin to have their number retired. Below are some of Chara’s top career accolades.

  • 1x Stanley Cup (2011)
  • 1x James Norris Memorial Trophy (2008-2009)
  • 1x Mark Messier Leadership Award (2010-2011)
  • 3x NHL First All-Star Team (2003-04, 2008-09, 2013-14)
  • 4x NHL Second All-Star Team (2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 5x All-Star Game Participant (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 3x Golden Puck Winner as Best Slovakian Player (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12)
  • 2x Silver Medal at IIHF Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships with Slovakia (2000, 2012)
  • Hardest Slap Shot as of June 7th, 2018 (108.8 mph set at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game)

These are only three players that could have their number retired next. Sure, Chara and Bergeron’s number retirement could be well into the future, considering how long it took to get Middleton’s number raised. Gerry Cheevers, however, could be the next player recognized by the organization and receive the honor. Who do you feel gets their number retired next by the Boston Bruins? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Top 5 Best Trades In Bruins History

The Big Bad Bruins' explosive trio of the late 1960s and mid-'70s propelled Boston to two Stanley Cups.

( Photo Credits: Frank Lennon / Toronto Star / Getty Images )
By Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

There’s a passion for hockey in Boston and there is an undying loyalty among fans. A loyalty that has more than once been tested when its GM would make some questionable moves. As discussed in last weeks article, we took a look at some of the worst trades made by Bruin’s brass. And with bad trades comes along the great ones that have led to the greatest moments in Boston sports.

In no particular order, here are the top five trades in Bruins history.

1. Grand Theft Chicago

PHOTO CREDITS: (WBUR-BOSTON)

Boston Acquires: Phil Esposito, Fred Stanfield, and Ken Hodge

Chicago Acquires: Jack Norris, Gilles Marotte, and Pit Martin

If there was ever a deal that would start the golden era of ANY sport, this trade would top the list. On May 15th, 1967, “Mr. Bruin” GM Milt Schmidt would strike a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks that ushered in the era of “The Big, Bad Bruins.” A phone call from Chicago GM Tommy Ivan would forever change the course of the Bruins franchise.

Schmidt called former GM Hap Emms; he advised against the deal. Emms was responsible for bringing such players Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin, John “Pie” McKenzie, Gerry Cheevers, and Gary Doak to Boston. Next stop, calling Bruins President Weston Adams, Jr who gave the ok to go through the deal.

Esposito had been centering with the Bobby Hull line, averaging 23 goals per season. However “Espo” didn’t quite get along with coach Billy Reay, causing some problems in Chicago. No longer under Hull’s shadow, Esposito flourished in Boston. Most importantly, both himself and Orr complemented each other. Coach Harry Sinden played Espo, Hodge and Ron Murphy on the same line. They steamrolled over opponents and produced a line-scoring record of 263 points. From 1969-1975, Esposito was a First Team All-Star; voted in 1969 and 1974 for the Hart Trophy. He also led the league in scoring in 1969, 1972-1974. And not to mention the two Stanley Cups rings he wears from 1970 and 1972 with Boston.

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( Photo Credits: Getty Images )
Ken Hodge would become the all-time leading scorer in Bruins history for a non-American. The English-born right-winger would post over 40 goals three-time for the Bruins. His totals after playing nine years for Boston: 289 goals, 385 assists with 674 points. Stanfield would play on the second line with John Bucyk and Johnny McKenzie. He was instrumental in helping the Bruins lead in power-play goals from 1969-1972. During the 1970 Stanley Cup finals against the St. Louis Blues, a slap shot from Stanfield would split Jacques Plantes mask in half. In six years, Stanfield would post 135 goals, 274 assists with 409 points.

And yes, Martin did well for Chicago scoring 30 goals three times and had 90 points in the 1973 season. He made the All-Star team four times and was supposed to replace Esposito. He never did reach “Espo” heights.

2. A Nifty Deal For Boston

( Photo Credits: BOSTON BRUINS ALUMNI )

Boston Acquires: Rick Middleton

New York Acquires: Ken Hodge

The then 32-year-old Hodge put a stamp in Bruins lore. The 23-year-old Middleton was a fast, young exciting player. And for Hodge, he missed Esposito (more on that later on the list). For as many goals Hodge would score with the Bruins, his gameplay would also become unpredictable. His off-ice antics were also a bit legendary. During the 1973 playoffs against the Rangers, Esposito got hurt. Hodge and fellow teammates visited their injured teammate, wheeled him out of his room, broke some swinging doors and ventured out to a nearby pizza parlor. The hospital would bill the team for the damages.

Hodge would anger his coaches and his close relationship with the owner wouldn’t sit too well Coach Harry Sinden (who clashed with the owner). When Sinden left, Hodge would have a huge fallout with new coach Don Cherry. With Esposito in New York, the Rangers knew they would need another big body next to Esposito. Ranger GM John Ferguson felt the Rangers had enough young players, thus sending Middleton to the Bruins. For the young 23-year-old, in Boston, he would join former teammates, Brad Park and Jean Ratelle.

“Nifty” Middleton was put everywhere on the ice by coach Don Cherry. In 1979-1980, Middleton had 92 points, 40 goals, and 52 assists. His best season came in 1983 when he posted 105 points. That season he was ranked as the NHL’s top forwards.

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

For coach Don Cherry, he had become a mentor to Middleton.

( Photo Credits: Frank O’Brien / Boston Globe Staff )

“Don changed my whole philosophy about hockey. I became a complete player because of Don…Grapes (Cherry) taught me how to be in the right position so I wouldn’t waste any steps.”

His accuracy with the puck became fodder amongst those that played against him, particularly goaltenders. For some like Rogie Vachon, (former Bruins goaltender) it was hard to read a player like Middleton.

“When I faced him, I knew that I couldn’t stay in the crease. He was so quick and never panicked. It was very tough for a goaltender to outguess him.”

3. New York Minute Steal

( Photo Credits: The Hockey Fanatic )

Boston Acquires: Brad Park, Jean Ratelle and Joe Zanussi

New York Acquires: Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais

So before the die-hards come out to dispel this as a great trade, yes Ratelle did play more hockey for the Rangers than he did for the Bruins. But for a player to skate in the footsteps of someone like Phil Esposito, he got the job done. And he did it without any drama or fuss. Ratelle quickly won the hearts of Bostonians. Coach Don Cherry would say Ratelle would be “the most perfect man to play my system.”
He would become the quintessential player and a man who everyone wanted to be. According to team-mate Wayne Cashman, Ratelle was “able to maintain such peace in his life. He wasted no time being a jerk…He was totally devoted to his family and that’s all he needed to be happy.”
What makes this trade even sweeter is the fact Ratelle out-pointed Esposito. In the 1975-1967 season, Ratelle outscored Espo by 23 points. In the following season, again he outpointed Espo by 14 points. Over six seasons in the NHL, he was 46 points ahead of Esposito. Even as he reached the ripe old age of 39, he would continue to play like a 25-year-old. New York had lost out in exploiting Ratelle’s talent and the Bruins reaped the benefits.

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )Brad Park would go on to become one the league’s premier defenseman. Prior to being shipped to Boston, the New York press didn’t exactly have the kindest words for Park, suggesting that at 27-years-old, he was over the hill and overweight. Boston quickly embraced “Parko” and he put up some impressive numbers. In the 1975-1976 season, Park played 43 games with 53 points. For a moment, Park would play alongside Orr, however, a knee injury would force him (Orr) off the ice. There was also the trauma of Orr leaving for Chicago the following season. Luckily it was somewhat eased with Park’s return (he had also battled a knee injury). Throughout the seventies, Park was voted to the First All-Star Team; he made the Second Team in 1971 and 1973.

4. In Ray We Trust

( Photo Credits: STEVE BABINEAU/GETTY IMAGES )

Boston Acquires: 1979 First-Round Draft Pick (Raymond Bourque)

Los Angeles Acquires: Ron Grahame

For the LA Kings, Goaltender Ron Grahame didn’t exactly wow his new team. In just 66 games played for Los Angeles, he had a losing record. He never finished a season with a GAA under 4.19. For Boston, Bourque would become the ultimate Bruin. With speed and agility, Bourque would often be compared to another great defenseman: Bobby Orr. He would don the spoke B jersey for 20 years.

Bourque played a total of 1,518 games, with 395 goals, 1111 assists with 1506 points. He has won the Calder Trophy (1980), King Clancy Trophy (1992), Norris Trophy (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1994), Lester Patrick Trophy (2003) and be inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2004.

Even though Bourque didn’t win the Stanley Cup in Boston, he remains a fixture for the Black and Gold.

5. The Syrup Runs Thin

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( Photo Credits: SERGEI BELSKI-USA TODAY SPORT )
Boston Acquires: Tuukka Rask

Toronto Acquires: Andrew Raycroft
In what is dubbed one of the “Worst Trades in Maple Leaf History”, Toronto traded the rights to an 18-year-old Finnish player by the name of Tuukka Rask for a goalie that had struggled in his second campaign with Boston. Prior to the NHL lockout in the 2004-2005 season, Raycroft would post a 29-18-9 record, a 2.05 GAA, and .926 save percentage with three shutouts. He struggled in Boston during the 2005-2006 season. He had only eight wins and was demoted to a third-string position. For Toronto, he finished 49th in GAA and 56th in save percentage. The Leafs would place him on waivers in 2008.
18-year-old Rask had to finish goaltending school in Finland. He would watch and learn from veteran goalie Tim Thomas. Rask would continue to grow and when Thomas left Boston, he went from backup to starter. In 2014, Rask won the Vezina Trophy.
And while there is no shortage of “Rask” haters in Boston, goalies take time to develop and will undoubtedly have off days. Rask, for his part, has more than once kept the Bruins in the game, as evident in this past Stanley Cup run. After a rough start and getting a bolster from former teammate Anton Khudobin, Rask had an impressive 2017-2018 season. He would have a 21-game point streak, ending the season with a 34-14-5 record with a 2.36 GAA and .917 save percentage.

A Little Side Note of Mention

In my last article, the Joe Thornton Deal (which is still a pretty crappy trade) is worth mentioning again. I debated on whether or not to list this as a “the dominoes fell in the right place so this terrible trade actually helped the Bruins in the end” best trade in history. In a twisted way, the Thornton deal was actually a good one. Before the hockey gods strike me down, let me tell you why this was a blessing in disguise: Patrice Bergeron. Zdeno Chara. Marc Savard.

When GM Mike O’Connell traded away Thornton in an effort to rebuild, it left enough salary-cap flexibility that was later used in signing free agent Zdeno Chara (probably one of the best free agent signings ever) and Marc Savard. O’Connell felt Thornton was the not the player to build the team around and more of a “post-season under-achiever.” Whether that’s a fair analysis will be up for debate by hockey enthusiasts.

Enter Patrice Bergeron, one of the most well-respected players in the NHL. At 20-years-old, the Bruins saw him as a potential leader both on and off the ice. If Thornton hadn’t been sent packing to San Jose, we may not have seen the potential of Bergeron. And don’t forget, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 without Thornton. As for Chara and Savard, there’s no argument the impact they have made in Boston. unfortunately, Savard’s career was cut short due to injury and at 41-years-old, Chara still defies mother nature and continues to put up monster time on ice.

In a list that will be up for debate, Bruins fans, who would be in your Top 5?

Broadcasting the Bruins: The Men Behind The Mic

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(GIF credits: NESN)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

Becoming “the voice” of a sports franchise is a feat and career accomplishment not many ever achieve. But for hockey fans, especially ones in the Hub of Hockey, those particular voices have shaped the foundation of our fandom down to its very core. Whether you grew up cheering on The Kraut Line, rooting throughout the Original Six Era, fighting for the Big Bad Bruins, or counting on the captains from Bourque to Jumbo Joe to Big Z, you instantly associated “your B’s team” with a specific — I’d say even iconic — voice. And when that masterful mouth behind the mic teamed up with a colorful color commentator, it felt like the perfect partnership for a Boston broadcast.

It’s because of these vocal virtuosos that we, as fans, have so many indelible memories of the players and playoffs, home-ice heartbreak and heart-pounding breakaways, great games and even greater game-winning goals. For all of these reasons–and the unforgettable calls, play-by-plays, and catchphrases–let’s pay tribute to the best Bruins broadcasters!

FRANK RYAN: “Welcome to the Carnival of Sports on WHDH!”

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(Photo Credit: “The Boston Garden” by Johnson & Codagnone)

December 1st, 1924 was a momentous day in Boston Bruins broadcasting history as Frank Ryan became the first ever “voice” of the team when he called play-by-play across the WBZ radio airwaves. It was the only game the team would win that month as the B’s beat the Montreal Maroons 2-1. Thankfully, Ryan would have plenty of other chances to broadcast Bruins victories as he kept the calls coming first by himself, then with Leo Egan on WHDH up until 1952 (see above).

Fun Fact: WBZ-TV started airing the 3rd period of all Bruins home games in 1948, with Ryan becoming the first man to do play-by-play for a televised Boston hockey game. He would have called the on-ice video seen in the “Uncle Milty” highlight reel below:

FRED CUSICK: “SCORE! The Bruins win it in Sudden Death overtime!”

For three generations of Bruins fans — and fans of the game, for that matter — Fred Cusick was THEE voice of the team, both on the radio (he succeeded Frank Ryan) and then for the majority of his illustrious career on television–most notably WSBK-TV and then NESN once it started up in the same year Kenny Loggins made all our feet feel loose. Speaking of dance moves, I remember my Dad and late “Grampa Will” always jumping about when the B’s would get a goal and Cusick’s enthusiastic vocals would shout “SCORE” alongside the great Johnny Pierson (a former Bruins’ All-Star player in the 50’s), as you can see/hear below:

While there are countless great games and memorable moments from Bruins history that Cusick called, what made him so intrinsically valuable to the team, the city and the region was his inimitable ability to generate genuine excitement for what he was doing. It didn’t matter if you were listening to him on the radio or watching his broadcast live. What you heard was a once-in-a-lifetime resonance (fitting for a Talking Head, am I right?) that not only pulled you into the thrill of the game, but also the spirit of it. Even when he’d go off subject, as he often did to share in the rich history of the team or the interesting backstory of a player, and Derek Sanderson (his broadcast partner from ’86 up until his retirement in ’97) subsequently had to reel him back into the on-ice action with a “Hey Hey,” Cusick did so with a charismatic enthusiasm that wasn’t distracting but rather engaging.

Fred Derek

(Photo Credit: SI Vault)

His exuberance in the booth could be felt across the AM/FM dial and right through your television screen. As a result, we all have our favorite Fred call that we constantly go back to, talk about and share with others. In fact, how’s this for sharing–Tim Thomas & Tuukka Rask both honored Cusick with an artistic homage on their Winter Classic helmets from 2010. Had he been calling that game, I can guarantee he would have said the following: “Bergeron throws the puck to the net… SCORE! Marco Sturm! And the Bruins win it in Sudden Death overtime!” (with every exclamation point truly worth it. Oops. I mean: !!!!)

(Photo Credits: Boston.com & EyeCandyAir)

In this humble hockey writer’s opinion, Cusick truly is “The Tops” as Mel Torme would say when it comes to Bruins broadcasting–his impressive career spanning five decades and countless accolades and awards, none so more remarkable than his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984 with the first-ever Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, “given to members of the radio and television industry who make outstanding contributions to their profession and the game of ice hockey during their broadcasting career” as it is described. As the below pictures indicate, “legend” and “classic” are two perfect words to describe the man and broadcaster Cusick was and will always be remembered as.

(Photo Credits: Trading Card Database & The Hockey News)

Fun Fact: Cusick and Sanderson called the last ever game at The Boston Garden on September 26, 1995 (I get goosebumps every time I watch the above-linked clip) and the first ever game at The Fleet Center on October 7th, 1995. Additionally, and quite fittingly, the Bruins dedicated their television broadcast booth to Cusick shortly after his passing in 2009, as you can watch below:

BOB WILSON: “OH MY! Listen to this building!”

If there was ever a voice with such booming baritone brilliance that was meant for hockey, then it “B”-longed to the late, great Bob Wilson. A Mass man all his life, Wilson began his illustrious radio career with the Bruins in the late sixties and became the full-time voice of WBZ the same year the B’s captured their second Stanley Cup of the seventies. Known for his picture-perfect descriptions of the flow of the game–a must for anyone calling hockey via radio–and his uncanny ability to sound like a boxing announcer whenever a Bruins brouhaha broke out on the ice, Wilson instantly earned the adoration and admiration from the fans.

(Photo Credits: The Boston Globe & Stanley Cup of Chowder)

As the very touching tribute from our friends at the Stanley Cup of Chowder (linked above) describes, Wilson was truly a superhero in the field of broadcasting, which is why it makes perfect sense that his album of play-by-play highlights about the team was titled “The Avengers”–eat your heart out Marvel. And you better believe fellow broadcasters did indeed “marvel” at his talents, with soon-to-be-mentioned names like Jack Edwards and Dave Goucher respecting the venerable Wilson’s mentorship and friendship more than anything. In fact, you can listen to Goucher tip his Bruins cap to Wilson’s career in the clip below (something Edwards would also do later with an in-game call of “this building is vibrating,” a wonderful wink to Wilson’s similar call I quoted):

Personally, I’ll tip my own B’s cap to the joys of the internet for helping me rediscover why the Bruins game featured below turned out being so special, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. It was May 1st, 1995 and Boston was battling Ottawa at “The Gahhhhden” in a fast-paced, high-scoring affair. But, all this middle-school mind could focus on was how funny it was that Senator’s center Radek Bonk literally bonked consecutive pucks off the post (a dear friend and longtime B’s season ticket holder went with me to another Bonk-filled game a few years later that proved to be more historical than we ever expected). Instead of watching the “Bonks and bruises,” I should have been paying attention to the ESPN 2 booth. If so, I would have witnessed this:

Thank you, Bob Wilson, for showing a young Mike Milbury and Steve Levy “how the pro’s do it,” to use an old sporting adage. OH MY, indeed!

Fun Fact: Like the Bruins, TV booth was dedicated to Fred Cusick, the B’s home radio booth was dedicated to Wilson in 2011, four years before his passing. He was also a recipient of the prestigious, and aforementioned, Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 1987.

DAVE GOUCHER: “BERGERON! BERGERON! In Game 7 and the Bruins win the series!”

I won’t let anyone who listened to Dave Goucher’s game-winning, game seven, overtime call of Patrice Bergeron’s goal versus the Maple Leafs on 98.5 The Sports Hub back in 2013 tell me it wasn’t one of the most riveting, exciting, bone-chilling-in-the-best-way-possible broadcast moments of a Bruins play in the history of the team. And yes, I’m putting it in the company of Dan Kelly’s Cup-winning call that I featured in one of my earlier Black N’ Gold blogs! But, that’s just how Boston University alum Goucher does things–with puck-calling precision & panache and an animatedly awesome cadence that draws you in and keeps you there throughout the duration of a B’s game.

While so many of us lamented his leaving the Bruins radio booth after 18 seasons last year to be in the TV booth of the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, we also rooted for him because of how much he made us love and root for our hometown team even more. That’s the magic of a hockey mic master–their ability to keep you interested, informed and entertained all at the same time. And it goes without saying, that “Gouch” did all of the above to lasting effect.

IMG_8971

(Photo Credit: Evan Michael)

When we had the pleasure of meeting out here in Los Angeles when he was calling the Bruins-Kings game two Spring’s ago, I was enamored with his generous spirit and friendly conversation. Our paths never crossed when I worked in broadcasting, but that didn’t matter to Dave even during this busy game-day. He took the time to share in stories about the team, life on the road, why he loved calling B’s games and how the team “really needed to pick up the pace in the third period” or else the high-flying Kings could mount a comeback. It’s always refreshing in this industry when people with that amount of talent are also that gentlemanly and professional. I can’t think of a better way to describe Dave, both in person and in the booth, than this. The same can be said for his longtime color commentator Bob Beers, whom you may remember me featuring in this previous post about the “Best Bruins Reunions.”

I think it’s safe to say that similar to the amazing “BERGERON!” call from a few years ago, the above play-by-play moments from Goucher and Beers rank as some of the fandom’s favorites. After all, isn’t that what you live for as a hockey broadcaster–to call a Cup-clinching game, let alone a game 7? Thanks for the microphone memories, Dave!

Dave Goucher Stanley Cup

(Photo Credit: Barstool Sports)

Fun Fact: Goucher was the radio voice of the Providence Bruins when they won the Calder Cup in 1999, one year before he joined the B’s broadcast team. He’d go on to win 4 Associated Press awards for his radio play-by-play work in Beantown.

JACK EDWARDS: “The Bruins, showing HEARTS OF LIONS, have tied it 3-3!”

Sure, I could have quoted Edwards’ epic call of the same play that prominently featured in the Dave Goucher portion of this post–a post that begins with a “graphics interchange format” (GIF in layman’s terms) foreshadowing this exact scenario. But why quote it, when I can just show it to you courtesy of our friends at NESN:

This is one of those unforgettable modern-day moments where the booth camera features footage just as awesome as the on-ice feed, something that rarely ever occurred in the “good ole days” of broadcasting. Here we have Jack Edwards going full-on theatrical crazy (he came from a drama background as this “insanely” titled Buzzfeed article alludes to) right after our pal Patrice scored in that lackluster, boring playoff game versus Toronto. Yes, I’m sarcastic, but I think that’s why the love-’em-or-hate-’em style of Edwards is truly one of my favs. He brings the sarcasm, the wit, the hyperbolic historical allusions and alliterations to the game with the same passion and fervor that he does for his play-by-play. That’s a skill hardly anyone in sports broadcasting has mastered nowadays, and it’s a big reason why I, at least, enjoy listening to and watching his Bruins broadcasts alongside the always on-point (and pocket-squared) Andy Brickley.

Image result for andy brickley jack edwards

(Photo Credit: NESN)

The Jack-and-Brick tandem, at least how I see it, has been nothing short of memorable and entertaining (or nauseating as some critics point out who aren’t into “homerism”) since the duo first paired together at the start of the 2005 season. Back then, the B’s were coming off a near decade-long experiment trying to find the “next team voice” of the post-Cusick era. The franchise higher-ups had Dale Arnold and Dave Shea rotating between two networks AND home/road games, making it a trying time for actually trying to watch the team and enjoy any semblance of rhythm or familiarity in the game-calling (side note: both gents are supremely talented broadcasters who contributed to the on-air success of the team in other ways outside of the play-by-play and color commentary roles).

With that said, Edwards brought a stabilizing force to the booth and acted as the perfect foil to Brickley. In one seat, you had a former B’s player with an astute eye for the game and A+ ability to explain it in real-time very matter-of-factly, and in the other, you had a broadcast veteran with a rambunctiously energetic personality who called plays like a hype man would pump up his talent. They balanced each other nicely, and looks like will continue to do so for the foreseeable future as the Boston Globe points out.

(Photo Credits: Trading Card Database & Twitter)

It’s also quite fun to follow Edwards’ exploits on social media, especially in-game when he posts to Twitter and is soon after spoofed on Twitter, causing many fans to go atwitter after reading the sometimes twit-inspired tweets.

I could go on forever with the above back-and-forth, but I’d rather appreciate the back-and-forth banter between the two current B’s broadcasters, both of whom certainly hope their legacies will one day put them among “the Best” in the Boston booth! And if Edwards continues to defend the Bruins best players, while also keeping a critical eye on his game-calling comrades, then it’s a solid bet he’ll earn straight “A’s” for backing up the “B’s” (sorry Tuukka haters).

Fun Fact: A veteran of Sportscenter, Edwards called games for the 2002 FIFA World Cup splicing in what would become a staple to his hockey on-air repertoire years later–references to patriotic hymns and revolutionary achievements.

All in all, there are countless other names, faces and of course voices who have contributed to the legacy of the Bruins over the years — from studio hosts to rinkside reporters, to expert analysts, to guest commentators. But for those who truly bleed Black N’ Gold, the personalities profiled here share a common Boston bond: they all love the B’s and are beloved for it.

And I couldn’t be happier to broadcast it!

Top 5 Worst Trades In Bruins History

    (PHOTO CREDITS: Bay Area News Group-Josie Lepe )

By Liz Rizzo Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

As one of the oldest franchises in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have produced the leagues most legendary players from Orr to Esposito. In their long, storied history, there have been some stellar trades (Ray Bourque, anyone?) along with a few head-scratching moves made by the powers that be.  These very moves left quite a scar for the Black and Gold and continue to make fans imagine a different outcome if we had kept certain players:  *cough, Seguin, cough*. 

In no particular order, we take a look at some of the worst trades in Boston history.

1. Say It Ain’t So, Joe

Boston Acquires: Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau

San Jose Acquires: Joe Thornton

In 2005, the Bruins stunned the superstar center when then-general manager Mike O’Connell called him up on his cell phone to let him know he’d been traded. Thornton had just signed a three year, $20 million contract extension with Boston. At that time, the Bruins were one of the last place teams in the conference. In an effort to shake things up, Boston was willing to trade Thornton, who was supposed to be their franchise player. The brass felt that they couldn’t build a team around the young center: Boston’s loss was San Jose’s gain.

Both Stuart and Primeau were traded to Calgary soon after for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew (a good move for Boston). Sturm had a good run with Boston,  posting 193 points in 302 games in the five season he played. Thornton’s career exploded in San Jose. “Jumbo” Joe has potted 937 points in 914 games which is on par with two other stars in the NHL: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

And yes, critics are quick to point out that Thornton has yet to win the Stanley Cup. However, you can’t deny that Boston missed the boat and let a superstar slip through their hands.

2. Doing It For Ray

Boston Acquires: Brian Rolston, Sami Pahlsson, Martin Grenier, and 1st Round Pick

Colorado Acquires: Ray Bourque, Dave Andreychuk

This was a tough one for Boston; Bourque had cemented his career in Boston, having played 21 seasons in the hub. But in all that time, the Stanley Cup had alluded the top defenseman. The 39-year-old was looking for his first championship, and Colorado offered just that. With a contract set to expire, Bourque was shipped to the Avalanche and in 2001 finally won the Cup. As for the Bruins, letting go of one of the NHL’s best defenseman in history proved to be a bit disastrous.

Brian Rolston played solid for four seasons in Boston (236 points in 338 games). Pahlsson, Grenier and first-round pick Martin Samuelsson played a combined 31 games and netted three goals. Yup, you read that right; three goals combined! At least Bourque finally got his cup though.

9 Jun 2001: Ray Bourque #77 of the Colorado Avalanche and teammate Patrick Roy #33 raise the Stanley Cup after they beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 in game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche take the series 4-3. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/Allsport(PHOTO CREDITS: NHL.COM)

3. The One That Stings

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin(PHOTO CREDITS: Jerome Mirron-USA Today)

Boston Acquires: Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser

Dallas Acquires: Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, and Ryan Button

It’s been five years since the Bruins traded a young 21-year-old future superstar albeit rumors of hard partying. His playing was also affected: during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, Seguin played abysmally, netting one goal in eight games. Despite his soft play on the ice, this trade was still hard to swallow. On one hand, you have a young person who is acting like most 21-year-olds (honestly who hasn’t crushed beers when you turn 21). On the other hand, there’s a high level of professionalism that is expected while playing in the NHL. The Bruins were exasperated with Seguin’s lifestyle and had to make an unpopular move; trade a potential superstar who was on his way to squandering his talents. Or so they thought.

Seguin proved his worth in Dallas, became a media darling and turned out to be the superstar Boston was looking for. Being traded served as a wake-up call for Seguin and simply put: he grew up. Sadly, Boston’s loss was a huge win for the Stars.  He has made four All-Star appearances with stats that continue to climb: 162 goals with 357 points in over 365 games.

Eriksson, for his part, had a productive three years in Boston before being signed by Vancouver: 147 points in 224 games. Morrow played 65 games, while Fraser played 38 games, scoring five goals. Smith played 91 games before being traded for Jimmy Hayes. Fraser last played in Sweden and never did much in Boston. As the dust settled, Boston was left with nothing after the Sequin trade. Zero. Yikes.

4. Canadien Crush

Image result for The Game (Dryden book)(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)

Boston Acquires: Paul Reid and Guy Allen

Montreal Acquires: Ken Dryden and Alex Campbell

In a trade that proved to be a lopsided deal, the Bruins let go of a future Hall of Famer goalie in Dryden. The worst part of this move: both Reid and Allen played a total of ZERO games in the NHL. Dryden, on the other hand, dominated in net for Montreal in every Stanley Cup final starting in 1971.

Playing against arguably the best Bruins team that was led by Bobby Orr, it was 23-year-old rookie Dryden that would lead Montreal to a cup. During the 1977 and 1978 Stanley Cup final versus the Bruins, Dryden was an unstoppable force. In just seven seasons, Dryden won the Vezina Trophy five times and the Stanley Cup six times.

He would face Boston in a few Stanley Cup finals and won each time. The Bruins would once again be on the sidelines, watching a former player enjoy wild success with another team.

5. Sealing The Deal

Image result for reggie leach bruins(PHOTO CREDITS: Getty Images)

Boston Acquires: Carol Vadnais and Don O’Donoghue

Golden Seals (California) Acquires: Reggie Leach, Rick Smith, and Bob Stewart

While it may be true that Vadnais would become a solid defenseman for the Bruins after playing three seasons, (he would end playing five seasons for Boston) what puts this trade on the list is a player named Reggie Leach. Even though he was traded to the California Seals, his shining moment would be his career playing in Philadelphia.  With 372 goals and 640 points, Leach would play for the both the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. Philly would face Boston in 1976 for the Stanley Cup, defeating them four games to one. Leach would score nine goals in five games. That same year, he won the Conn Smythe trophy.

As for O’Donoghue: he didn’t dress for a single NHL game. Both Smith and Stewart continued to play solid for their teams respectfully (Smith would return to Boston in 1976 and played there until 1980).

Moral Of The Story

Any time you have a team who has been around for as long as the Bruins, you’re bound to have some great trades and a few dumpster fires. As for the Sweeney Era, some honorable mentions would be the Matt Belesky contract debacle and the Jimmy Hayes/Reilly Smith swap. Both came at the time when Sweeney took over the GM position, so we’ll chalk it up to a learning experience. Still, one would not blame fans for being nervous anytime Boston has an unsigned stud, a la Pastrnak in 2017. After a bizarre standoff that included a KHL threat, Sweeney got a steal in signing the Czech superstar: six years for $40 million.

After the 2018-2019 season, there will be a few young players that will become restricted free agents. Many have already proven to be legit superstars after the end of this season. Will the front office secure DeBrusk, McAvoy, and Carlo? We’ll just have to nervously wait and see.