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Boston Bruins 1967 Expansion Era History Capsule


BOSTON BRUINS MVRP Poll, Choose 5 Players  

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  1. 1. Choose Your Top 5 MVRPs From the Boston Bruins!

    • Terry O'Rielly
    • Don Sweeney
    • Bobby Orr
    • Rick Middleton
    • Phil Esposito
    • Don Marcotte
    • Ray Bourque
    • Johnney Bucyk
    • Wayne Cashman
    • Cam Neely

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Just in time for expansion, the Bruins perform a complete overhaul of their uniforms. The gold jersey gives way to a black jersey, and white socks are worn with both the black and white jerseys. The pants from previous years carry over.


Illustration by Andrew M. Greenstein, The unofficial NHL Uniform Database

The Boston Bruins are the 3rd oldest team in the NHL, having been established in 1924. They have gone on to win 6 Stanley Cups which stands as the 5th most in the NHL overall and 2nd most by a USA teams behind Detroit's 11 championships.

The first installment of the this Bruins MVRP vote and history focuses on the post 1967 expansion era, leaving the early years and "original six" eras for a future work to be done.

Today, the Bruins play in TD Garden, having moved there in 1995 after having played in the historic Boston Garden for the previous 67 years! The post 67 expansion coinscided with Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr's duel rise into stardom and in fact the duo became the NHL best players for a number of years, leading their Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 1970. In 1974/75, the colorful (in more ways than one) Don Cherry to over behind the bench and began rebuilding the team as Orr's knee injuries finally took their toll on him. That season would be his last full campaign. They would finish 2nd in the Adams division and be ousted in the first round by the Blackhawks. The following year, they would lose to the Flyers in the semi-finals.

In 1977, the Bruins would make the finals only to be swept by the Canadians. The same result awaited them in 1978, losing to the Canadians again in the finals in 6 games, despite having a balanced attack with 11 players scoring 20+ goals! But, nothing could ultimatley make up for the loss of Esposito to trade and Orr in 1975 and 1976 respectively.

The 1979 semifinal series against the Habs proved to be Cherry's undoing. In the deciding seventh game, the Bruins, up by a goal, were called for having too many men on the ice in the late stages of the third period. Montreal tied the game on the ensuing power play and won in overtime. Never popular with Harry Sinden, by then the Bruins' general manager, Cherry was dismissed as head coach but was later hired in the same capacity with the Colorado Rockies. It was just to much to lose to the Canadians 3 years in a row.

Heading into the 1980's behind players like Park, Peters, Bourque and Neely, the Bruins would return the Stanley Cup finals in 1988 to be swept once again, this time by the Edmonton Oilers. However, a memorable moment in the would-be fourth game ensued, when in the second period with the game tied 3–3, a blown fuse put the lights out at the Boston Garden and the rest of the game was cancelled and the series shifted to Edmonton. The Oilers completed the sweep, 6–3, back at Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton in what was originally scheduled as Game Five. The event is considered to be the reason the Bruins began work on a new arena.

The Bruins returned to the Cup Finals again in 1990 behind Neely and Bourque to lose again to the Edmonton Oilers, with a slightly better result of 4 games to 1. After the 1993 season, the Bruins had not gotten past the second round of the playoffs until winning the Stanley Cup after the 2011 season.

In 1997, Boston missed the playoffs for the first time in thirty years (and for the first time in the expansion era), having set the North American major professional record for most consecutive seasons in the playoffs. Historically, their most bitter rivals have been the Montreal Canadians, whom the Bruins have played a record thirty-three times in the playoffs. The Bruins also have a rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers and were rivals to the now relocated Hartford Whalers.

The dawn of a new century found the Bruins going on to 3–4–1 start which led to the Bruins firing head coach Pat Burns and going with Mike Keenan for the rest of the way. Despite a fifteen-point improvement from the previous season, the Bruins missed the playoffs in 2000–01 by just one point, and Keenan was let go. The next 6 years would see numerous trades and coaching changes and of coarse the 2004/05 season being wiped out by lockout. It came to a disappointing point in the 2006/07 with their last place finish in the Division.

After the disappointing 2007 season which saw the firing of Lewis as head coach, the 2008 campaign saw the Bruins regain some respectability, finishing 41–29–12 and making the playoffs. The season ended on a bright note for the Bruins when they forced the Canadians to play a seven-game playoff series, including a memorable Game 6 in which Boston came back to win 5–4. Their performance, despite a 5–0 loss in the seventh game, rekindled interest in the team in New England, where the Bruins had for years been heavily overshadowed by the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics, all of whom had recently won championships in their league.

In 2010 Boston became only the third team in NHL history to lose a playoff series after leading 3–0 when they lost in Game 7 to the Philadelphia Flyers after losing a 3–0 lead in the second round on May 14, 2010, also losing the services of Marco Sturm in the first game and playmaking center David Krejci to injury in the third game of the series. Many credit the loss of these two players as the turning point of the series. The epic defeat of the Bruins at the hands of the Flyers in the 2010 playoffs, however, would be avenged the following year.


The league reinstates the alternate jersey program after a one-year hiatus, and the Bruins use the occasion to introduce a new black jersey featuring their alternate logo on the front. Black socks are worn with this jersey, marking the first time in team history that it has worn black socks.


Illustration by Andrew M. Greenstein, The unofficial NHL Uniform Database

The table was thus set for the 2011 playoff when the Bruins would once again claim the Stanley cup, sweeping the hated Flyers in 4 games and winning in 7 games games against the even more hated Canadians! The 39 year old drought was over!

Volumes have been written about the Bruins and many more coaches, commentators, GM's and other personalities can be read about in various resources, easily available. Below is a selection of the post 1967 players to be voted upon by you for inclusion into the MVRP list and later on to be used in a new challenge game. Remember to choose 5 players from among these great and colorful players and enjoy the rest of the read. Be looking for the pre 1967 Boston players and team history in the future.

The Players

Terry O'Reilly, #14 – RW

Born June 7th, 1951

Terry was drafted by the Boston Bruins as the 14th overall pick in 1971 after spending 3 years with the Oshawa Generals. Joining the team in the 71-72 campaign, he went on to play 13 seasons with Boston, finally hanging them up in the spring of 85. The following year he was named head coach of the team, taking Boston to the cup finals in 1988 but losing to Gretzky's Oilers. After the 88/89 season he left coaching to tend to his ill son who was suffering from a liver problem. Later on, in 2002, he would join the NYR as an assistant coach for 2 seasons. His #14 jersey was retired by Boston and hangs next to Ray Bourque's jersey who mentioned that Terry is protecting me once again, a reference to Terry's tenacity in protecting his fellow team mates.

Terry had some colorful nicknames over the years. The press liked to call him "Bloody O'Reilly" for his impressive 5 consecutive seasons of 200+ penalty minutes. Fellow team mate Esposito called him "Taz" for the famous cartoon character the Tasmanian Devil". One of his most colorful incidents occurred December 23rd 1979.

"In the infamous December 23, 1979 incident at Madison Square Garden, during a post-game scrum, a New York Rangers fan rolled up a program tightly and smacked Stan Jonathan in the face drawing blood, and then stole his stick and wielded it at him like a weapon. O'Reilly scaled the glass boards and charged into the stands. His teammates followed when other fans tried to intervene. O'Reilly was suspended eight games for his part in the brawl." Merry Christmas!

Of note was Adam Sandler's reference to him in the movie Happy Gilmore, saying that Terry O'Reilly was his favorite player. For Terry's part, his favorite player on Boston is Milan Lucic, who was also born on June7.

Terry finished his career with 204 goals, 402 assists for 606 points, a +212 plus/minus, "a tribute to his good defensive skills", and 2,095 minutes in penalties.

Robert Gordon “Bobby” Orr, #4 – D

Born March 20th 1948

Volumes have been written about Bobby Orr and his achievements. I can add little to those volumes nor do justice to one of the greats. Indeed, his name alone stands by itself with no supporting facts for inclusion in this list of Boston’s MVRP, and in fact, the all-time NHL MVRP list.<o:p></o:p>

I will however hit a few highlights. Consider this: 8 Norris Trophies, 2 Art Ross, 2 Conn Smythe, 1 Lester B Pearson, 3 Hart and 2 Stanley Cups! He holds many other honors in juniors and the NHL as well as numerous all-star team selections and international competitions.<o:p></o:p>

He wound up playing 10 seasons for Boston from 66/67 until 75/76 and 2 more short seasons for the Blackhawks in 76/77 and again in 78/79. Oddly, he was also an assistant coach for the Blackhawks in 76/77. Later on he tried his hand for some time as a player agent, starting in 1996 and is now president of his own “Orr Hockey Group”.

Orr retired having scored 270 goals and 645 assists in 657 games, adding 953 penalty minutes. The three year waiting period for HOF induction was waived and Orr was inducted as the youngest player to enter the storied hall at the age of 31. In January of 1979, his #4 jersey was retired by Boston.

Phil Esposito, #7 – C

Born February 20th, 1942

Phil started his remarkable NHL career in 1963 with the Chicago Blackhawks where he would spend 4 years before being traded to Boston in 1967 in a blockbuster trade, along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. While the hitherto unremarkable Hodge and Stanfield became stars in the black-and-gold, Esposito blossomed into the greatest scorer of his day. He would go on to top 100 points 6 times. In the 1970/71 campaign he would score 76 goals, a record that would hold up until 1982 when Gretzky surpassed him. In 1971 he would wind up with 152 points, again to only be surpassed by Gretzky’s 215 point campaign.

Only three other players have reached the 150 point-scoring plateau — Mario Lemieux 199, Steve Yzerman 155 and Bernie Nicholls 150 — and only Gretzky, Lemieux, Brett Hull, Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny have scored 76 or more goals in a season. That season also saw Esposito shatter the single season mark for shots on goal with 550. This record still stands; in fact, only one other player has been within 100 shots of tying it (Alexander Ovechkin in 2008–09, in a season that was four games longer than when Esposito set the record).

He would finish his NHL playing career with the New York Rangers, playing 5 seasons until retirement in 1981. He would go on to coach the Rangers for 2 seasons. During his days as GM of the Rangers, he was known as “Trader Phil” because of the huge number of trades he consummated during his tenure.

He later co-founded the Tampa Bay Lighting and spent time as their color commentator on the radio as well as an analyst for NHL on Fox from 1995 until 1998.

Truly one of the all-time greats, Phil went on to win 5 Art Ross, 2 Hart, and 2 Lester B Pearson awards and was a member of 6 all-star teams. He won 2 Stanley cups! What a career!

Esposito was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. In December 1987, his #7 jersey was retired by the Boston Bruins in an emotional ceremony where the then-current wearer, superstar defenseman Ray Bourque, pulled off his #7 jersey to reveal his new number, 77—dramatically "surrendering" his old number in Esposito's favor. Esposito was "visibly moved" when Bourque showed the Boston Garden crowd his new number, which he used for the rest of his career. Esposito was also on hand in Boston to hand Bourque his retired number after the latter retired.

Ray Bourque, #77 – D

Born December 28th, 1960

Ray Bourque started his hockey career with the Boston Bruins in 1979 after being drafted #8th overall. He would go down in history as another one of Boston’s all time greats. He would play for Boston until the 1999/2000 season when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. In 1988 he became the sole captain of the team after a short tenure as co-captain with veteran Rick Middleton. He would serve as the captain until his trade to the Avalanche.

Having collected the Calder Trophy, 5 Norris’s, and 1 King Clancy Memorial trophy it was time for the organization to part ways and give Bourque a chance at the elusive Stanley Cup. He wouldn’t have to wait long to finish his resume. After just one full year with Colorado he would raise the Stanley Cup in his last game. Bourque had waited longer to win his first Cup than any other Cup-winning player had in the 108-year history of the Stanley Cup, having played 1,612 regular season and 214 playoff games before winning the Cup. On June 12, 2001, three days after the Cup victory, Bourque exercised his right as a player to bring the Cup back to Boston for an emotional rally in Boston's City Hall Plaza, attended by some 20,000 fans. Bourque retired shortly thereafter, having set defensive regular season records in goals (410) and assists (1169) for 1579 points. In 2004 he was inducted into the HOF and his number 77 jerseys hang proudly from both the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruin’s arena rafters.

Cam Neely, #8 – RW

Born June 6th, 1965

The Comox British Columbia native Cam Neely was picked #9 over all in the 1983 draft by the Vancouver Canucks after his 2 years playing for the Portland Winter Hawks. After 3 years with the Canucks, Neely was packing his bags for the opposite side of the continent in a trade for Barry Pedersen. He would play for Boston from the 1986/87 campaign until retirement in 1996. Neely’s career would have its ups and downs however…

On May 3, 1991, during Game 3 of the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Finals, Neely was checked by Ulf Samuelsson, and injured on the play, and was hit again to the knee in game 6. Compounding the situation was the fact that Neely developed myositis ossificans in the injured area. The injury kept Neely out of all but 22 games of the next two seasons, and Neely would only play 162 NHL games for the remainder of his career after the hit because of knee trouble. Even so, he still recorded some remarkable scoring feats. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Brett Hull scored a better goals per game average over the course of an NHL season than Neely did with his 50-goals-in-49-games in the 1993–94 season (despite missing 35 games that season).

He faced off ice tragedy also with the deaths of both parents do to cancer. That led to the formation of his Cam Neely Foundation. Later on in 2010 he became President of the Boston Bruins and in 2012 finally got what he couldn’t get as a player, the Stanley Cup.

He wound up with 395 goals, 299 assists for 694 points in 726 games and with an impressive 1241 penalty minutes. His #8 was retired by the Bruins and in 2005 he was inducted into the HHOF.

Johnny Bucyk, #9 – LW

Born May 12th, 1935

Bucyk played junior hockey for four seasons for his hometown Edmonton Oil Kings before signing with the Detroit Red Wings in 1955. Two modest years later in 1957, he was traded to the Bruins in a surprising deal for Terry Sawchuk, one of the greatest goaltenders of the day. To this day, the deal is considered one of the most one-sided trades in NHL history. While Sawchuk's best days proved to be behind him, Bucyk more than justified the deal by becoming an immediate star in Boston.

However, thereafter the team fell on hard times in the sixties, finishing in last place five straight seasons, during which time he led the team in scoring several times. When the Bruins became a powerhouse in the late Sixties, Bucyk — by then the team captain — hit his stride with great production including a 51-goal season in the 1970–71 season in his mid-thirties, and helping the Bruins to win two Stanley Cup titles in 1970 and 1972. In 1978, he suffered a injury and retired after the season.

At the time he entered the league in 1955, he was the largest player in the NHL at 6’ and 215 lbs. When he retired, he was 4th all-time in points. Bucyk remains affiliated with the Bruins, serving on various occasions as a broadcaster and in the front office. He is currently the team's director of road services. His name was engraved on the Stanley Cup for a 3rd time with the Boston Bruins in 2011, his 53rd consecutive season with the organization. For his playing career, he racked up 556 goals, 813 assists for 1369 points in 1540 games!!! Remarkable. Had he not been injured in 1978 he would likely have played over 1600 games.

Bucyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981 and won two Lady Byng Memorial Trophies. His # 9 was retired by Boston.

Wayne Cashman, #12 – RW

Born June 24th, 1945

The Kingston Ontario native had a long playing career and an equally impressive coaching career. He played in the minor leagues for the Oshawa Generals, Oklahoma City Blazers and briefly for the Hershey Bears. He cracked the NHL roster in boston twice, for one game in 1964 and 12 games in 1967/68. In the 1968/69 campaign he served full time with the Bruins and spent the next 15 seasons with them. He retired in 1983, having played all 1027 career games with one team, the Bruins! Cashman was a member of Stanley Cup winning teams in 1970 and 1972, the latter where he scored twice in the deciding game six against the New York Rangers. He scored 20 goals a season eight times in his career, accomplishing this feat in four straight seasons with 100 or more penalty minutes. His best season was in 1974, when he scored 30 goals and 59 assists to finish fourth in the league in points, played in the All-Star Game, and was named to the NHL Second All-Star team.

He served as the captain of the Bruins from the 1978 season until 1983.

After his retirement as a player, Cashman served in several coaching positions, largely for his former teammate Phil Esposito; five seasons as an assistant coach for the New York Rangers, four for the Tampa Bay Lightning as an assistant coach. After Terry Murray was dismissed, Cashman was appointed head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers for the 1997-98 season and held that post for 61 games until being replaced by Roger Neilson and served thereafter as the team's assistant coach. He was also on the coaching staff of Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He was an assistant coach with the Bruins from 2001 until 2006.

His total NHL coaching record is 32-20-9 and he finished his playing career with 277 goals and 516 assists in his 1027 games.

Don Marcotte – LW

Born April 15th, 1947

Don was kown as a premier defensive forward, while being versatile enough to play any forward position. After playing his junior league hockey for the Niagara Falls Flyers in 1965, 1966 and 1967, Marcotte - whose rights were owned by the Bruins - turned pro in the 1968 season with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. After three seasons with the Bears, Marcotte was recalled in the 1970 season just in time to be a defensive mainstay on Boston's checking line with Derek Sanderson and Ed Westfall for the Bruins' 1970 Stanley Cup championship.

Marcotte would play twelve more seasons in Boston, winning a second Stanley Cup in 1972. He became noteworthy for his defense and penalty-killing and led the NHL in shorthanded goals in 1971 with six. He scored twenty or more goals seven times and thirty goals in 1975. Don Marcotte helped Boston to 3 more finals in 1974, 1977, 1978, but Boston did not win the cup. He was honored by being selected one of the NHL All-Stars for the 1979 Challenge Cup.

After being released in training camp by the Bruins in the fall of 1982, Marcotte retired from hockey. He had played in 868 games, scoring 230 goals and 254 assists for 484 points, and adding 317 penalty minutes.

Rick Middleton – RW

Born December 4th, 1953

A right winger, Middleton was drafted in the 1st round, 14th overall, by the Rangers in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft after a glittering junior career with the Oshawa Generals in which he led his league in scoring his final year and was named to the league's Second All-Star Team. He spent the 1973–74 season with the Rangers' farm team, the AHL Providence Reds, earning rookie of the year honors and being named to the AHL's First All-Star Team.

He made the big club during the 1974–75 season, and despite suffering injuries that restricted him to 47 games, scored 22 goals in that limited time. The following season was not as spectacular, as he scored 24 goals in 77 games while showing defensive deficiencies. Following the 1975–76 season, the Rangers traded Middleton to the Boston Bruins for veteran winger Ken Hodge.

With Boston, Middleton had five straight seasons of at least forty goals and ninety points. His leadership was apparent in being named co-captain (with Ray Bourque) to succeed Terry O'Reilly in 1985, a position he held until he retired, wearing the "C" during home games.

His best season was the 1981–82 season, during which Middleton scored a career high 51 goals, won the Lady Byng Trophy for excellence and sportsmanship, and was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team. The following season he led the Bruins to the league's best regular season record, and set still unbroken records that year for the most points scored in the playoffs by a player not advancing to the finals (33) and for a single playoff series (19, in the quarterfinals against Buffalo). His 105 points in the 1983–84 season tied Ken Hodge's team record for most points scored in a season by a right winger, and remains unbroken. Middleton played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1981, 1982 and 1984 and was an analyst for NESN from 2002 until 2007. He finished his 14 year career with 448 goals and 540 assists for 988 points in 1005 games.

Don Sweeney – D

Born August 17th, 1966

Sweeney was drafted in round 8 (166th overall) out of St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, where he played with his school team as a defenseman, by the Boston Bruins. Before joining the Bruins, he played four years at Harvard University where he was a NCAA East All-American and an ECAC First Team All-Star in 1988.

He made his NHL debut during the 1988–89 season, having spent half of the year with the AHL's Maine Mariners. The following season he helped the team win the Prince of Wales trophy by scoring six points in 21 games until they finally lost to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals.

In 1992–1993 Sweeney played all 84 games and put up 36 points and ended up winning the Adams Trophy that year. In both the 94/95, 95/96, 96/97 seasons he was second amongst the defenseman on the team with 22 and 28 points respectively. In 1998 Sweeney missed the last 23 games of the season with a fractured shoulder. The next season Sweeney came out hitting with 205 hits and 85 blocked shots in 81 games. On November 14 2002/03 he played in his 1,000th NHL game.

He played 15 seasons and 1,051 games in a Bruins uniform, as he was one of just four players (two defensemen) in team history to play in over 1,000 games.

Sweeney concluded his NHL playing career in 2003–04 with the Dallas Stars. He retired with 52 goals and 221 assists for 273 points and 681 penalty minutes in 1,115 career regular season games. He added nine goals and ten assists for 19 points with 81 penalty minutes in 108 career playoff contests.

On June 21, 2006, Sweeney rejoined the Boston Bruins by being named the team's Director of Player Development. On July 14, 2007, he was promoted to Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development. In July 2010 he was promoted to the Assistant General Manager. In 2011 his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup after the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup 39 years.

The End...

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@WingNut722 Johnny does not get nearly the praise he should. 20 glorious seasons in Boston and 556 goals. When he retired, he was top 5 for goals. His value went far beyond pts and goals though, a tremendous leader and an outstanding human being! Wow, imgaine if the Wings had kept him?!?

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@WingNut722 Johnny does not get nearly the praise he should. 20 glorious seasons in Boston and 556 goals. When he retired, he was top 5 for goals. His value went far beyond pts and goals though, a tremendous leader and an outstanding human being! Wow, imgaine if the Wings had kept him?!?

100% agreed. One of the worst trades in Wings history! Had they kept them, they could have kept the "Dead Wings" at bay for a few years longer...

Once again, @idahophilly, excellent work!!

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