As the National Hockey League begins its year-long centennial celebration, it seems to be a good time to hark back to the 100 Best Boston Bruins of all time.
Now, let’s set a few parameters before we get started:
1.) The list is primarily based on what these players did while wearing a Bruins’ sweater, not necessarily the sum of their NHL careers. Brad Park would be higher, for instance, in an overall NHL ranking.
2.) There are Hall of Famers who played for the Bruins who aren’t on this list, simply because their time in Black and Gold was but a cup of coffee. So don’t look for Bernie Parent, Paul Coffey, Jarome Iginla, Brian Leetch, Jaromir Jagr, et. al, here.
3.) For the sake of saving space, we’ll include comments on the Top 50 Bruins, then just list players 51-100.
4.) It’s my list, so if you don’t like it, that’s OK. Come up with your own, send it to me (contact information below) and we can agree to disagree. Any hockey talk is good talk.
So strap on your double runners, grab that Northland stick and buckle your Cooper helmet — let’s start the list with the obvious No. 1:
1. Bobby Orr, D (1966-76): If you have to ask why, you should probably stop reading at this point.
2. Eddie Shore, D (1926-50): League MVP four times in six years; two-time Stanley Cup champ; the reason why the phrase “Old Time Hockey” was invented.
3. Raymond Bourque, D (1979-2000): Ironman with tremendous skill and stamina; all-time leader in goals (410) and points (1,579) by a blueliner.
4. Phil Esposito, C (1967-76): Smashed single-season goal (76) and points (152) marks in 1970-71; won two Cups, two MVPs and five scoring crowns.
5. Milt Schmidt, C (1936-42, 1946-55): Fourth all-time in NHL points and third in assists when he retired; just as dominant after three years of wartime service.
6. Johnny Bucyk, LW (1957-78): “Chief” scored 50 goals for the first time in his career at age 35; finished lengthy career with 556 goals and 1,369 points.
7. Cam Neely, RW (1986-96): The term “power forward” was custom made for him; scored 50 goals three times, needing just 44 games to do so in 1993-94.
8. Zdeno Chara, D (2006-present): Hulking (6-foot-9) blueliner was a force like no other in NHL history; captained Boston to first Cup in 39 years.
9. Aubrey “Dit” Clapper, RW/D (1927-47): All-star at two positions scored 41 goals in 44 games (1929-30); captured three Cups in Boston.
10. Patrice Bergeron, C (2003-present): Heart and soul of 21st century Bruins teams; will, like Chara, see his No. 37 hanging in Garden rafters some day.
11. Bill Cowley, C (1935-47): Won one scoring title and a pair of Hart Trophies as league MVP; retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
12. Lionel Hitchman, D (1925-34): Captain of Boston’s first Cup-winning team (1929) played eight seasons on the back line with Shore.
13. Terry O’Reilly, RW (1972-85): One of the most popular players to ever wear Black and Gold. Could score a bit (95 points in) and had fists of fury.
14. Tiny Thompson, G (1928-39): Still the team’s all-time leader in wins (252), shutouts (74), goals-against average (2.08) and games played (468).
15. Woody Dumart, LW (1937-54): Five-time 20-goal scorer and member of the famed “Kraut Line” who retired as team’s leading scorer among left wingers.
16. Adam Oates, C (1992-97): One of the most underrated players in NHL history; his ridiculous 45-97-142 campaign in 1992-93 remains one for the ages.
17. Frank Brimsek, G (1938-49): Six shutouts in first 7 games earned him the moniker “Mr Zero”; first American goalie inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame.
18. Tim Thomas, G (2005-12): Arguably greatest-ever goaltending performance in playoffs during 2011, winning Vezina, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe.
19. Rick Middleton, RW (1976-88): Holds NHL record for most points in a playoff series with 19. Had 51 goals once, 40-plus goals four other times.
20. Wayne Cashman, LW (1968-83): Feared no one; played 1,027 games for the Black and Gold with 277 goals, 793 points and 1,041 penalty minutes.
21. Jean Ratelle, C (1975-81): Still plenty in his tank after late-career trade from Rangers; scored 155 goals and added 295 assists in six years with B’s.
22. Peter McNab, C (1976-84): Averaged better than a point per game (587 points in 585 games) with Boston, scoring 40 goals twice.
23. Ken Hodge, RW (1967-76): Two-time NHL First Team all-star had 50 goals once, twice netted 105 points and was big part of “Big, Bad Bruins” of 1970s.
24. Brad Park, D (1975-83): Endeared himself to B’s fans after trade from hated Rangers with smart, steady play and contributing offensively.
25. Gerry Cheevers, G (1966-72, 1975-80): Aggressive keeper with iconic black-stitched mask won 229 games with 26 shutouts.
26. David Krejci, C (2006-present): Was at his absolute best during Boston’s top Cup runs, leading playoffs in scoring in both 2011 and 2013.
27. Cooney Weiland, C (1928-32, 1935-39): NHL scoring champ (43-30-73 in 44 games) in 1930 later coached B’s to ‘41 Cup, then Harvard for two decades.
28. Barry Pederson, C (1980-86, 1991-92): Put up consecutive seasons of 44-48-92, 48-61-109 and 39-77-116; later dealt to Vancouver for Neely.
29. Herb Cain, LW (1939-46): Seven-year stint in Boston highlighted by his terrific 1943-44, when he led NHL in scoring (36-46-82 in 44 games).
30. Brad Marchand, LW (2008-present): Not just a pest. “Honey Badger” is a legit top-line scorer (37 goals in 2015-16); had 19 points in ‘11 playoffs.
31. Milan Lucic, LW (2007-2015): Inconsistent but one of the most feared players during time in Boston, putting up 139-203-342 numbers with 772 PIMs.
32. Bobby Bauer, RW (1937-47): Four-time NHL Second Team all-star was member of famed “Kraut Line” with fellow legends Schmidt and Dumart.
33. Glen Murray, RW (1992-95, 2001-08): Scored 180 goals in final six seasons in Boston, highlighted by stellar 44-goal campaign in 2002-03.
34. Tuukka Rask, G (2009-present): Vezina Trophy winner and NHL First Team all-star in 2014 has proven himself to be elite puckstopper.
35. Craig Janney, C (1988-92): Smooth-passing (but soft) pivot averaged better than a point-per-game (84-198-282 in 262 games) in The Hub.
36. Eddie Johnston, G (1962-73): Started on some terrible teams; ended up winning two Cups while piling up 180 wins and 27 shutouts.
37. Derek Sanderson, C (1967-72, 1973-75): Flamboyant personality bigger than his game, but was 5-time 20-goal scorer and effective checker/fighter.
38. Joe Thornton, C (1997-2005): Former No. 1 pick never quite fulfilled huge expectations but did put up 36-65-101 season in 2003-04.
39. Andy Moog, G (1988-93): Went 13-7 with 2.21 GAA en route to 1990 Cup finals against his former Edmonton team; won 132 games in Boston.
40. Sergei Samsonov, , RW (1997-2004): Four-time 20-goal scorer in his seven seasons in Boston; won Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year.
41. Jason Allison, C (1996-2001): Played less than four full seasons here but could always put up points, evidenced by his 36-59-95 final season.
42. Gilles Gilbert, G (1973-80): Recorded 10 playoff victories during 1974 Cup run; flamboyant keeper collected 155 triumphs in Black and Gold.
43. Steve Kasper, C (1980-89): Excellent defensive pivot who captured Selke Trophy in 1982; could also chip in offensively (four 20-goal seasons).
44. Byron Dafoe, G (1997-2002): “Lord Byron” won 132 games and pitched 25 shutouts over five seasons with Bruins, including 10 shutouts in ‘99.
45. Mark Recchi, RW (2008-11): Hall of Famer and 1,500-point scorer’s impact as second liner for B’s was enormous; retired as Cup champ in 2011.
46. Don Sweeney, D (1989-2003): Steady and responsible rearguard out of Harvard played over 1,000 NHL games, often paired with Bourque.
47. Nathan Horton, RW (2010-13): Could score, fight, play on top line and had Game 7 game-winning goals in 2011 vs. Montreal and Tampa Bay.
48. Reggie Lemelin, G (1987-93): Played final 6 seasons in Boston; was excellent as B’s beat Montreal in 1988 playoffs for first time in 45 years.
49. Marc Savard, C (2006-11): Concussions cut career short; point-producing pivot had 62 goals and 206 assists in three full (i.e., healthy) seasons in Hub.
50. Johnny ‘Pie’ McKenzie, RW (1966-72): Fun loving winger on two Cup teams led league in shooting percentage (23.6%) in 1968-69; could also mix it up.
Nos. 51-60: Don Marcotte, LW (1969-82); Charlie Simmer, LW (1984-87); P.J. Axelsson, LW (1997-2009);Gord Kluzak, D (1982-91); Kenny Linseman, C (1984-89); Phil Kessel, RW (2006-09); Dennis Seidenberg, D (2009-16); Fernie Flaman, D (1946-51, 1954-61); Bobby Schmautz, RW (1973-80); Keith Crowder, RW (1980-89).
Nos. 61-70: Bobby Carpenter, LW (1989-92); Johnny Peirson, RW (1948-58); Tyler Seguin, C/RW (2010-13); Don Awrey, D (1964-73); Stan Jonathan, LW (1976-83); Johnny Boychuk, D (2009-14); Gregg Sheppard, LW (1972-78); Shawn Thornton, RW (2007-14); Mike Milbury, D (1976-87); Don McKenney, C (1954-63).
Nos. 71-80: Garry Galley, D (1988-92); Vladimir Ruzicka, C (1990-93); DHal Gill, D (1997-2006); Dave Poulin, C (1989-93); Ted Donato, LW/C (1992-99); Gary Doak, D (1966-70, 1973-81); John Wensink, RW (1976-80); Kyle McLaren, D (1995-2002); Mike Knuble, RW (2000-04); Bob Sweeney, C (1986-91).
Nos. 81-90: Flash Hollett, D (1935-44); Dallas Smith, D (1967-77); Bill Quackenbush, D (1949-56); Bill Guerin, RW (2000-02); Chris Kelly, C (2011-16); Andrew Raycroft, G (2001-04); Dmitri Kvartalnov, LW (1992-94); Torey Krug, D (2013-present); Craig MacTavish, C (1981-84); Brian Rolston, C (200-04, 2011-12).
Nos. 91-100: Andrew Ference, D (2007-13); Anson Carter, RW (1997-2000); Mike O’Connell, D (1980-86); Gregory Campbell, C (2010-15); Leo Boivin, D (1954-66); Joe Juneau, C (1991-94); Carol Vadnais, D (1972-76); Larry Regan, RW (1956-59); Daniel Paille, LW (2009-15); Rick Smith, D (1968-72, 1976-80).
Phil Stacey, who writes for CNHI Sports Boston, is the executive sports editor of The Salem News. Contact him at email@example.com or 978-338-2650, and follow him on Twitter @PhilStacey_SN.