A Look At Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara On His 42nd Birthday

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Yanni Latzanakis  |  Follow Me On Twitter:  @yanlatz

The Bruins team is full of wise, experienced veterans in their lineup and Zdeno Chara is probably the wisest and most experienced of them. On Monday, March 18, Chara turned 42 and continues to lead the Bruins with no end in sight to his outstanding career in the NHL.

At Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, the team brought Chara a birthday cake and sang him Happy Birthday. Although he might not have eaten it, the gesture was fun and thoughtful of the Bruins coaches, players, and management for one of the greatest Bruin of all time.

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Zdeno Chara was born on March 18, 1977, in Trencin, Czechoslovakia. He was originally persuaded by many in his home country to play basketball because of his height. However, he continued playing hockey and was drafted in the third round 56th overall by the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft in St. Louis.

Chara spent his first year in North America in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars playing close to 50 games. The following season he split time between the Islanders squad and the then Kentucky Thoroughblades of the American Hockey League. Then, ironically, before he came to the Bruins, he spent time in Lowell, Massachusetts playing for the Lowell Lock Monsters, who was the New York Islanders AHL affiliate at the time during the 1998-1999 season.

After 4 seasons on Long Island and 4 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Chara signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Bruins on July 1, 2006, and was also named the team captain.

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Standing at 6 foot 9 inches tall, Chara is the tallest player to ever play in the National Hockey League and has yet to give up that title. Much like his body type, his play on the ice is monstrous. Throughout his career with the Bruins, he has been a strong, shut-down defenseman that can occasionally put the puck in the net with his record-breaking 108.8 mph slap shot. His dominant play has always given his coaches the confidence to play him against the league’s top lines and top players. He averages 24:20 time-on-ice for his career and even this season, at age 42, he is averaging 21:02 time-on-ice for the Bruins defense. From his shutdown play to versatility on the ice, Chara achieved the leagues highest defenseman honor with the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best d-man in 2008-2009. Chara also was an integral part of the Bruins bringing Boston its first Stanley Cup in nearly 40 years when Chara lifted the Cup the highest it had ever been lifted in 2011.

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Zdeno Chara has just turned 42 years old, and many fans have criticized him for his play in the past three years or more. Although he will never be as dominant as he was earlier in his career, he is still a force on the Bruins blue-line. Just one part of his importance with the Bruins for the rest of his career will be his mentorship for young Bruins defenseman. When Brandon Carlo stepped into the league in the 2016-2017 season, he was paired up with Chara for most of his rookie year, and now we have seen Carlo be one of the Bruins best defenseman this year. We have also seen Chara paired up with Charlie McAvoy as he was transitioning from College hockey to the big leagues and both have learned valuable on and off ice lessons from Big Zee. He knows what it takes to win mentally and physically and how to keep his body healthy to continue to perform at a high-level night in night out in which he can teach young defenseman valuable lessons.

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No doubt that Chara is headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame when he does decide to hang them up, and we could even see #33 hanging from the rafters at TD Garden. Chara is one of the most influential pieces for the Bruins this season and postseason both on and off the ice and has proven to be a fierce competitor who has put his blood, sweat, and tears into the spoked B for over a decade. Happy Birthday, Zdeno!

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Can You Count From 1-99 Using Just Bruins Players Throughout History?

Photo Credit: The Hockey News

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

Short answer? No. Not tremendously surprising, but still, you can get pretty close. I have highlighted the best player to wear each number throughout the team’s history below. Please note that this is a matter of personal opinion, and I took into account a player’s entire career when determining the best player to wear the number. There are a few numbers that have never been worn, and a few that only one player has worn. I have added commentary on some of the more interesting picks, as well as some of the more controversial ones.

*Indicates the number is retired in honor of the player

^Indicates the player is the only one to have worn the number in the history of the franchise

1) Giles Gilbert (1974-1980)

*^2) Eddie Shore (1926-1940)

Hockey Hall of Famer. Only one to ever wear the number with the B’s. ‘Nuff said.

*^3) Lionel Hitchman (1922-1934)

*4) Bobby Orr (1967-1976)

You might have heard of the first offensive defenseman? Oh, you haven’t? Look him up. He was pretty good.

*5) Dit Clapper (1927-1947)

OK, they should’ve retired this guy’s number based on his name alone. But his numbers were pretty good too.

Image result for joe thornton rookie

Photo Credit: Getty Images

6) Joe Thornton (1998-2000)

I bet many younger B’s fans remember Jumbo Joe in his Boston days. But how many knew he wore a number other than his iconic #19?

*7) Phil Esposito (1967-1976)

Did I mention the ’70s Bruins were kind of good?

*8) Cam Neely (1987-1996)

I may have issues with his management career, but not much was wrong with his on-ice career. The man could BURY the puck on cue.

*9) John Bucyk (1958-1978)

Bucyk is often the forgotten man from the ’70s juggernaut, but he’s a Hockey Hall of Famer for a reason.

10) Jean Ratelle (1976-1981)

He isn’t known for his exploits in the Black and Gold, but Ratelle was one of the more underrated stars of the ’70s.

11) PJ Axelsson (1998-2009)

12) Adam Oates (1992-1997)

Plenty of competition for this one, but the ridiculous offensive numbers he posted in the mid-90s ultimately took the cake.

13) Ken Linesman (1985-1990)

The original rat, Linesman, did more with his mouth than he did with the puck, but DANG was he good at it.

14) Ace Bailey (1969-1973)

*15) Milt Schmidt (1951-1955)

16) Derek Sanderson (1968-1974)

17) Milan Lucic (2008-2015)

Looch will always be a fan favorite for his handiwork – both with the puck and his fists.

18) Barry Pederson (1981)

19) Joe Thornton (2001-2006)

Yes, Joe is on here twice. No, I don’t think Tyler Seguin is better than him. Thornton is a Hall of Famer. Seguin’s not there yet.

20) Dallas Smith (1965-1977)

21) Ted Donato (1993-1999)

22) Willie O’Ree (1958-1961)

He didn’t put up stand out numbers, but the newest Hall of Famer on the list did so much more for the game than score goals.

23) Terry O’Reilly (1972)

*24) Terry O’Reilly (1973-1985)

25) Andy Brickley (1989-1992)

26) Blake Wheeler (2009-2011)

If only Peter Chiarelli didn’t trade his good players…

27) Dave Christian (1989-1991)

Did you know Christian was one of the more successful members of the Miracle on Ice team of 1980? I didn’t.

28) Mark Recchi (2009-2011)

He brought us a Cup in 2011, and he’s in the Hall of Fame.

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Photo Credit: CBS Sports Boston

29) Rick Middleton (1976-1988)

His number goes to the rafters this week. The pretty clear winner here.

30) Gerry Cheevers (1969-1980)

31) Jacques Plante (1973)

Wait – Jacques Plante wore the spoked B?

32) Don Sweeney (1989-2003)

Hey look, our GM played for the team!

33) Zdeno Chara (2007-present)

Big Z will see his name in the Hall and his number in the rafters very soon. First, he’d have to retire, and I’m not sure I see the android known as Chara breaking down for good for a while.

34) Geoff Courtnall (1984)

35) Andy Moog (1988-1993)

36) Dave Reid (1985-1988)

37) Patrice Bergeron (2004-present)

One of, if not THE greatest defensive forward in the history of the NHL will be a Bruin for life, captain when Chara retires, and will also see his number in the rafters and his name in the Hall. Classy individual, on and off the ice.

38) Dave Andreychuk (2000)

39) Greg Johnston (1986-1990)

40) Tuukka Rask (2008-present)

Tuukka Rask has the best career save percentage of all time. In the NHL. He is and has been great. Full stop.

41) Jason Allison (1997-2001)

42) David Backes (2017-present)

This is more of a result of very few impactful players wearing the #42 for Boston. The only other intriguing name was Blake Wheeler, and I gave the career track record of Backes the edge here.

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Photo Credit: Boston Globe

43) Al Iafrate (1994)

The B’s love their heavy clappers from the point.

44) Dennis Seidenberg (2010-2016)

Quietly one of the better shutdown defensemen in the league in his prime.

45) Robert Lang (1998)

46) David Krejci (2007-present)

I haven’t seen many players be able to purposely slow down the game to throw the opposition off like Krejci. He is a consistent playoff performer, and if he played on any other team, he’d be the #1 center.

47) Torey Krug (2012-present)

Again a result of few players donning #47, I think it is pretty clear that Krug is one of the best offensive defensemen in the game, and his only other “competition” for this spot was Steven Kampfer.

48) Matt Grzelcyk (2017-present)

Give it to the local boy, because nobody else really did anything in their careers.

49) Joe Juneau (1992-1994)

50) Jonathan Sigalet (2007)

Who?

51) Ryan Spooner (2013-2018)

I know Spooner hasn’t been tremendous in his career, but literally, nobody of note wore #51.

52) Sean Kuraly (2017-present)

See above. At least Kuraly has had some clutch moments.

53) Derek Morris (2010)

54) Adam McQuaid (2010-2018)

Quaider was THE heavyweight in his era. He is literally terrifying on the ice.

Bruins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who had a goal and an assist, stepped out with Montreal's Steve Begin after they collided in the third period.

Photo Credit: Jim Davis

55) Sergei Gonchar (2004)

If only Gonchar had stuck with the B’s longer than a season.

56) Petteri Nokelainen (2008)

57) PJ Axelsson (1998)

Axelsson wore a different number?

58) Urho Vaakanainen (2018-present)

Your options are Vaakanainen, Kevin Dallman, and Carter Camper. Yeah, I think this one is obvious.

59) Tim Schaller (2017-2018)

The only other player here is some guy named Rich Brennan, who played all of 7 games with Boston and tallied a single assist.

60) Vladimir Sobotka (2008-2010)

Sobotka, Kirk Nielsen, or Brian Finley? Obvious choice.

61) Rick Nash (2018)

To be honest, Nash’s competition here wasn’t tremendous. Shoutout to Craig Cunningham though.

62) Milan Lucic (2008)

Looch shows up again simply because the only other option here is Zach Trotman.

63) Brad Marchand (2010-present)

The NEWEST rat, Marchy has become one of the premier scorers in the league. But he might have his number retired simply based on his standing with the fans alone.

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Photo Credit: J. Leary/ Getty Images

64) Jarno Kultanen (2001-2003)

Who? Well, Kultanen had the most offensive production out of the options. Sorry to Lane MacDermid, Bobby Robins, and Tyler Randell.

65) Andrew Bodnarchuk (2010)

Either Bodnarchuk or Brett Harkins. Not great options here.

66) NEVER BEEN WORN

67) Benoit Pouliot (2012)

The only other player to wear #67 has been Jakub Zboril, this is kind of by default.

68) Jaromir Jagr (2013)

Jagr is an all-timer, despite struggling in his time with Boston.

69) NEVER BEEN WORN

70) Tim Thomas (2003)

Timmy wore #70 during his first call-up with the B’s, and I think we can say he has had a better career than Malcolm Subban.

71) Marc Savard (2007)

Savvy wore 71? WHY? Better than Jiri Slegr or Terry Virtue though.

72) Peter Schaefer (2008)

A surprising number of players have worn #72, but Schaefer is the only one who was a reasonably decent offensive producer in his time with the team.

73) Charlie McAvoy (2017-present)

This is either McAvoy or Michael Ryder, and this may be controversial, but I thing McAvoy will have a better career.

Image result for paul coffey bruins

Photo Credit: NHL.com

74) Paul Coffey (2001)

OK, I will be honest. I never had any idea Paul Coffey played for Boston.

75) Hal Gill (1998)

76) Alexander Khokhlachev (2014-2016)

Khoko-bonanza. Just for Rob Tomlin.

*^77) Ray Bourque (1988-2000)

78) NEVER BEEN WORN

79) Jeremy Lauzon (2018-present)

Lauzon or David Warsofsky? Toss up, but I think Lauzon has more upside.

80) NEVER BEEN WORN

81) Phil Kessel (2007-2009)

Your options? Kessel, Miroslav Satan, or Anton Blidh. In the Kessel vs. Satan battle, I gotta give it to the hot dog master.

82) NEVER BEEN WORN

83) Peter Cehlarik (2017-present)

Who is Patrick Leahy? I have no clue either.

84) NEVER BEEN WORN

85) NEVER BEEN WORN

^86) Kevan Miller (2014-present)

87) NEVER BEEN WORN

^88) David Pastrnak (2015-present)

^89) Zdenek Blatney (2006)

90) NEVER BEEN WORN

^91) Marc Savard (2007-2011)

Image result for marc savard

Photo Credit: Graig Abel

92) Michael Nylander (2004)

The only other player to wear the number was Guillaume Lefebvre. He sounds like a guy who played in the mid-70s, but he played with the team in 2010. That should tell you why Nylander wins out.

93) NEVER BEEN WORN

94) NEVER BEEN WORN

95) NEVER BEEN WORN

96) NEVER BEEN WORN

97) NEVER BEEN WORN

98) NEVER BEEN WORN

99) NEVER BEEN WORN

The Bruins Week Ahead: Wild Card Edition

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photo credit: Eric Canha/CSM/Cal Sports Media/AP Images

By: Mandi Mahoney  |  Check Me Out On Twitter @phoneymahoney

At the moment, the Boston Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 30 points. It may be too early to talk about the postseason, but they currently inhabit one of the Eastern Conference’s Wild Card slots right now. They are sandwiched between their rivals, as they currently sit two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, and three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens.

Last week, the Bruins racked up an overtime loss in Detroit against the Red Wings, and a win at home on Black Friday against Pittsburgh, followed by one in Montreal on Saturday night. With Patrice Bergeron, and Zdeno Chara out of the lineup in addition to Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen, the Bruins have had a little bit of trouble finding chemistry with their lines so jumbled. Losing their best center, who is also their best player without the puck, has been a bit of an issue for the Bruins.

Luckily for the B’s, defensemen John Moore and Kevan Miller, both of whom have been playing very well this season, returned from injury this week and have helped immensely. Tuukka Rask has also been fantastic in net since returning from his leave of absence.

There are three games coming up this week, and two are against teams in the super competitive Atlantic Division.

Monday, November 26: at Toronto

The Bruins and Maple Leafs have met once this season, with the Bruins winning 5-1. Monday night they will meet again at Scotiabank Arena. Naturally, the Leafs will want to come out flying as they would not be pleased to drop another contest to the B’s, after last season’s first round exit, and getting blown out in their first meeting with Boston this season.

Toronto is third in the Atlantic Division (and fourth in the NHL) with 32 points. The Bruins are fourth in the division (7th in the NHL) with 30 points. Their top center, Auston Matthews, is still out due to a shoulder injury, but has resumed skating and may be returning in the first week of December. The Leafs are still without William Nylander, as the two sides have yet to work out a deal (the Bruins should make Nylander an offer, but that’s a story for another day).

With Matthews out of the lineup, leading the way for the Maple Leafs is 2015 fourth overall draft pick Mitch Marner, who looks no older than your average eighth grader. Marner has scored 30 points in 24 games, with 6 goals, 24 assists. Superstar center John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly are tied for second in points with 27 apiece.

Toronto’s defense remains questionable, but the Leafs’ goaltending has been excellent so far this season. Frederik Andersen is 12-7 in 19 appearances, with a save percentage of .931 and a goals-against-average of 2.24. Backup Garret Sparks was between the pipes for the first game against the Bruins this season. He is 4-1 in 5 games and has put up a Save% of .925, and a GAA of 2.57 – pretty solid.

The Leafs’ power play is 9th in the NHL and is converting at 23.8% (Bruins are third at 28.4%). The penalty kill is 12th in the NHL at 81.3%, while the Bruins are 19th at 78.4% (ouch). Despite Toronto’s defense is their weakness, they don’t allow many goals. Currently, they’ve let in third fewest goals per game in the league, with only Nashville and the Bruins allowing fewer.

The Bruins are going to have to be particularly solid in their own end against Toronto, as the Leafs are a pretty fast team and are skilled offensively. Stretch passes could be an issue if Boston can’t hold onto the puck or handle passes – the Maple Leafs made it obvious last season that they could cause problems for the B’s this way.

Thursday, November 29: vs. New York Islanders

Former Bruins captain Rick Middleton’s number 16 will be retired in a ceremony before Thursday night’s game against the Islanders. Islanders fans are probably happy about this since Nifty enjoyed much more success for the Bruins than he did when he played for their crosstown rival, the New York Rangers.

Despite the loss of star center John Tavares, the Islanders have put together a decent first two months of the season, and are third in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points, good for fourteenth in the NHL. Thursday will be their first game against the Bruins this season.

The Isles have gone 3-2 in their last five games, which include a win and a loss against the rival New York Rangers, who are nipping at their heels in the standings at fourth in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are 12-8-2, while the Rangers are 12-10-2. They also beat the Devils 4-3 in overtime on November 23, with the game winner being scored by center Matt Barzal, who Bruins fans are either obsessed with or tired of hearing about – no in between.

The Islanders are about as healthy as the Bruins, as they are currently without Casey Cizikas (lower body), Andrew Ladd (leg), Matthew Lorito (undisclosed), Matt Martin (upper body), and Linus Soderstrom (shoulder). There is a possibility Cizikas might be back for Thursday’s matchup, which would be huge for the Islanders. Matt Martin may be suiting up as well.

The Islanders are scoring 13th most goals per game with 3.18, while the Bruins are tied with Dallas for 21st in the league at 2.83 goals per game. The Isles are in the middle of the pack as far as goals allowed per game, with 2.86, good for 14th in the NHL.

Right wing Josh Bailey is leading the Isles in scoring with 7-14-21 totals, followed by Mat Barzal with 3-17-20 totals. Brock Nelson and Anders Lee have 18 points each, and Valtteri Filppula will be a player to watch on both sides of the puck, as he’s reliable defensively and can score as well.

Saturday, December 1st: vs. Detroit Red Wings

This will be the Bruins’ third meeting with Detroit this season. The absolutely routed the wings 8-2 in October, with David Pastrnak notching a hat-trick. Last week, the Bruins took on the Wings in Detroit and lost in miserable fashion during overtime. A key faceoff was lost, not one, but two Bruins were unable to strip Andreas Athanasiou of the puck, and of course, he scored a beauty of a gamer winner with a fancy spin move that would have been totally stoppable had anybody opted to play defense. Oy.

The Red Wings are 2-2-1 in their last five games. Three of those games have gone to overtime. The Wings won two of those games (Bruins and Devils) and lost to Buffalo in a shootout. Winning this one in regulation would be a good idea, as it’s very clear that the Red Wings are not to be underestimated. They still have speed and firepower in players such as Dylan Larkin, Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and UMaine alum Gustav Nyquist.

Jimmy Howard has been good in the crease, with a GAA of 2.55 and a Save% of .925. Their backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a rough start, as his stats are 3.54 and .897, respectively, but has been finding his game recently, and had a couple of very solid games last week. Bernier made 49 saves in a single game against Carolina. That statistic should make it pretty obvious that the Red Wings are among the NHL’s worst regarding shots allowed per game (29th in the NHL, at 38.4/game).

An important key to this game will be for the Bruins to get as much offensive zone time as possible and capitalize on the many opportunities the Red Wings are probably going to serve up for them. The Bruins should take as many shots as possible, and create traffic in front of the net if they want to be successful. It seems they’re finally starting to find a little bit of chemistry in the new lineup sans Bergeron. Hopefully, they can keep it up.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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My Chat With Bruins Legend Rick Middleton

 

usatsi_5153514( Photo Credit: NBC Sports Boston )

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

On November 29th, just five days from now, the Boston Bruins will raise another number to the rafters. This one will be the 11th number to be retired in the history of the franchise, founded in 1924. The first ever number to be retired was Lionel Hitchman’s number three back in 1934, and the most recent number to be raised to the rafters was Cam Neely’s number eight in 2004. The latest addition to this legendary group is quite a “Nifty” guy. All joking aside, Rick Middleton will have his number 16 raised to the rafters in a pre-game ceremony prior to the Bruins matchup with the New York Islanders next Thursday.

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Middleton is fourth on the all-time scoring list in Bruins history with 988 points amassed in 12 seasons in black and gold. Only Ray Bourque, Johnny Bucyk, and Phil Esposito had more points in their legendary Bruins careers. Middleton is one of only three players to score at least 400 goals in his career in Boston. Born a Leafs fan in Toronto, Middleton broke into the league as a 21-year-old for the New York Rangers, totaling 22 goals and 18 assists in just 47 games. Traded to the Bruins in 1976, Middleton scored 20 goals and added 22 assists in his first season in Boston. Middleton’s best statistical season came in 1983-84 when he scored a career-high 105 points on 47 goals and 58 assists. Middleton had more than 40 goals five times in his career, and impressively, he did it in five consecutive seasons with a high of 51 in 1981-82. It is also worth noting that Middleton is one of about 320 players who have played in more than 1,000 games in their careers.

Middleton played for six coaches during his Bruins career, from Don Cherry to Terry O’Reilly and a few in between. The Bruins made three appearances in the Stanley Cup Final during Middleton’s time in Boston, twice in his first two seasons and then in his final season. Unfortunately, the Bruins lost each time, twice to the Montreal Canadiens and once to the Edmonton Oilers. Perhaps the most infamous moment during Middleton’s career happened on December 23rd, 1979, the night Mike Millbury beat a fan with his shoe at Madison Square Garden. Three Bruins were suspended and fined, but fortunately, no blood was spilled.

Middleton was a three-time All-Star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1982 as the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Middleton holds a few league records as well, including most points ever recorded in one playoff series and the most assists ever recorded in a playoff series. Middleton scored exactly 100 points in his postseason career in 114 games. Middleton finished just 12 points shy of 1,000 points for his career, but his legacy will be remembered forever when his number gets raised to the TD Garden rafters next week.

You can listen to my full interview with Rick Middleton on the link below

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGaint for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

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Bergeron Adds To Home Opener History for Bruins!

(Photo Credit: Boston Bruins)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @Evan007onTV

It’s officially 🎩🎩🎩’s off to No. 37, Patrice Bergeron, on recording his 4th career Hat Trick for the Boston Bruins during their 6-3 W over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Monday, Oct. 8.

Now, why does the date & location need mentioning? I mean, it really doesn’t matter when or where a player gets a “hattie” because it’s always worth celebrating, am I right? Well, it’s because the B’s Assistant Captain (or Co-Captain as I like to rightfully call him) made the franchise record books with his impressive 3-goal game on “Opening Day” in Boston.  That’s right … only a handful of Bruins in the history of the team have ever lit the lamp thrice during the Home Opener. And, oh, what a list it is to be on for Bergeron!

CARSON COOPER – 11/16/1926

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The 1926 Boston Bruins season began at home versus the soon-to-be arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. And thanks to Carson Cooper (not Claude) consistently connecting in the 4-1 contest, the B’s clocked the score sheet more times than a clean copper clapper kept in a closet can clang! For anyone who doesn’t get this alliterative reference, look no further than below. (photo credit: Flickr)

PHIL ESPOSITO – 10/10/1973

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It would take the B’s almost 50 years before another Home Opener Hattie (H.O.H.) and it probably surprises no one that it came at, and on, the hands of the Hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. Known for his scoring prowess, ‘Espo’ helped the B’s best the Canucks in a 6-4 win where offense was on display practically the whole game. The same can be said for his illustrious Bruins career — one in which he recorded 32 hat tricks between 1967 and 1975. How’s that for a dominating stretch of hockey that truly deserves a bit of sports illustration? (photo credit: Sports Memorabilia)

RICK MIDDLETON – 10/7/1976

Image result for rick middleton bruinsThere was nothing niftier than Rick “Nifty” Middleton scoring multiple times during a game. And he got the Gahhhden rockin’ in early October of 1976 when his hat trick propelled the B’s over the then Minnesota North Stars 6-2. Speaking of stars, Nifty was a bona fide B’s one his whole career wearing the spoked-B. (photo credit: NHL.com)

CAM NEELY – 1/22/1995 & 10/07/1995

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I don’t know how Beckett Hockey Monthly could’ve put a price on Cam Neely because his talent was truly priceless. And in 1995, the price was right (unlike for the Red Sox) TWICE as Neely notched quite the achievement on his Bruins’ belt. He garnered hat tricks in two separate Home Openers during the same calendar year since the start of the ’94 season was locked out until January.  Then, like clockwork, the ’95 season rolled around in October. So, Neely’s three goals in a 4-1 W versus Philly on 1/22 and three goals in a 4-4 T versus the Isles on 10/07 prove to be the best out-of-the-gate offensive outbursts to start a season in hometown hockey history. (photo credit: comc.com)

PATRICE BERGERON – 10/08/2018

Image result for patrice bergeron hat trickAfter a highlight-filled skate down B’s home-opener-history lane, let’s “B Inclusive” just like the team’s campaign with the MA Special Olympics that debuted this October 8th and welcome Patrice Bergeron as the 5th official member of the H.O.H. club. His perfectly placed and timed three goals against the Sens got the TD Garden crowd ready for action all season long in the best way possible. After all, he was adding to the “Home Opener History for the Bruins!” (photo credit: Boston Globe)

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

Boston Bruins To Retire Rick Middleton’s Number On November 29th

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PHOTO CREDITS: (B&W Negative)

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

Officially announced on July 31st, 2018 by the Boston Bruins’ Twitter page, (@NHLBruins), Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton’s #16 will be retired by the Bruins organization and will join the legends of the franchise in the rafters of the TD Garden.

Middleton played in 881 career regular season games with the Boston Bruins from 1976 to 1988, posting 402-496-898 numbers in that time span. However, before joining the Bruins in the ’76 season, Richard played two seasons with the New York Rangers before being traded to the B’s in exchange for Ken Hodge.

In his time with the Rangers, Middleton did not quite live up to the scoring expectations that were placed on him following his insane scoring statistics in the OHA, scoring 207 points in 115 games. While in the Big Apple, Middleton peaked at fifty points in the 1975-76 campaign, thus causing the trade to the Bruins. (The trade was recently featured in an article published by fellow BNG writer, Liz Rizzo, that discussed the best Bruins trades of all-time.)

For the first two seasons in Boston, Rick Middleton was still considered an average player, scoring 42 and 60 points in the ’76/’77 and ’77/’78 campaigns respectively. It was not until the 1978-1979 season where Middleton truly showed his scoring talent and would lay the foundation for the remainder of his career – finishing the year with 38-48-86 totals.

During the six seasons that would follow, Middleton would score at least thirty goals, including a career-high 51-goal campaign in 1981-82. In that same season, Middleton would take home the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, signifying him as the most gentlemanly player in the league. Two seasons later, Nifty would score the most points in his career, tallying 105 points during the ’83-’84 year.

Rick possessed great skill and threatened most goaltenders – especially in one-on-one scenarios. A former teammate of Middleton, Wayne Cashman, said the following about his time with Middleton in the National Hockey League.

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

Middleton’s career playoff resume is nothing to ignore as well. In 111 playoff games with the Bruins, Middleton scored one-hundred points (45-55-100), including thirty-three points in only seventeen games during the 1982-1983 post-season.

According to Wikipedia.com, Middleton currently holds four records in the NHL history books.

  • Most Points in One Playoff Series (19)
  • Most Assists in One Playoff Series (14)
  • Highest Playoff Point-Per-Game Average in one Post-Season by a Right-Winger (1.94)
  • Highest Playoff Assists-Per-Game Average in one Post-Season by a Right-Winger: (1.29)

Rick Middleton’s #16 will join the likes of Eddie Shore (#2), Lionel Hitchman (#3), Bobby Orr (#4), Dit Clapper (#5), Phil Esposito (#7), Cam Neely (#8), Johnny Bucyk (#9), Milt Schmidt (#15), Terry O’Reilly (#24), and Raymond Bourque (#77) in the TD Garden rafters in a game against the New York Islanders on November 29th, 2018.

Boston Bruins President Cam Neely and CEO Jeremy Jacobs had some words today about the retirement of Middleton’s number.

Congratulations to Richard Middleton on this outstanding honor and the newest retired jersey is well deserved up there in with the other Boston legends.