Hockey is one of the most under-appreciated sports in America. Case and point: many of the people who are reading this article are probably hockey followers or people who live in Boston. We’ll let the views prove my point so I better not assume. If you aren’t familiar – this may be common knowledge for some readers – there were six original NHL teams, the Original Six (I know, super original… and that was a lame pun). The franchises were the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
I know what questions you have and I will answer them quickly. First, you don’t have to write a letter to Congress about Chicago’s team name because it’s not derogatory like Redskins, but like the Redskins, most people do not care unless the media tells them to care. Seriously, have you ever heard someone call a Native-American “Redskin” before? I thought not. Second, Canadian teams are allowed in America, and to add to their invasion, their countrymen are better. Those topics are beside the point because we’re here to talk about the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were established in 1924 and were the first professional hockey team in America (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!). It’s a storied franchise; they have won six Stanley Cups, but more importantly, their players emulate the attitude of their city. Bostonians are wicked tough, as are hockey players, so the people love their Sox, they love their Pats, they love their Celtics, and they certainly love their Bruins. If only Big Papi, Brady, and Bird could be considered Bruins as well. Many towns forget they have a professional hockey team, and that’s why so many players loved playing in Boston instead of elsewhere. However, where there are lovers there are haters.
15. LOVED: AUBREY CLAPPER
I’m a firm believer in loyalty – not because I’ve had girlfriends who’ve cheated on me in the past, but because when I invest in a team jersey I want to make sure that player stays on the team. That’s why I usually get memorabilia of older players just to be safe. Aubrey Clapper also believed in loyalty, spending his entire career with the Boston Bruins from 1927-1947. In fact – and this is a really cool stat to know – he was the first NHL player to play 20 seasons! He was also pretty good; he was an All-Star in both defense and offense, the Bruins retired his jersey, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. To continue his devotion to Boston he became a player-coach (a dual-threat once again) and eventually just a coach after retiring. There’s no wonder he was the longest-tenured NHL team captain until future Bruin Ray Bourque took over that record. Spoiler Alert: You’ll hear about him too.
14. HATED: DON CHERRY
How could someone like Don Cherry hate anything? He has that clean snowy look working for him on top of his head and around his mouth, and his suits are some of the most eccentric and vibrant outfits. Sometimes I don’t even know what the guy says while he’s offering his analysis… or whatever it is he’s talking about. The Boston Bruins only gave Cherry one shot – not just an opportunity, but literally one game – to prove himself as a player. Short story short, that was his only NHL game. However, he did coach the Bruins from 1974-1979 with great success except for the fact he failed to win the Stanley Cup in his two trips to the finals. To add insult to injury, the losses were both to the hated Montreal Canadians. How irritating that must have been! Boston-Montreal is one of the most heated rivalries in all of sports so if you were to hate anything, it would be to hate losing the ultimate prize to your enemy.
13. LOVED: TERRY O’REILLY
As I stated during the intro, people from Boston are tough. I’m not scrolling up to verify I said that and you don’t have to either, just take my word for it. With that being said, they love tough athletes, and Terry O’Reilly was exactly that – so much so that he received an eight-game suspension after entering the crowd at Madison Square Garden during a brawl after the game. The guy was a madman, he loved the penalty box and he loved to fight just like any rowdy Bostonian in a pub (the penalty box being a holding cell of course). He, like Aubrey Clapper served as a Bruin captain, spent his entire career in Boston, and had his number retired. O’Reilly also served as the head coach of the Bruins from 1986-1989. When you’re mentioned as Happy Gilmore’s favorite player than you know you’ve done something right over the course of your career.
12. HATED: LARS JONSSON
This isn’t technically accurate because Lars Jonsson never actually played a game for the Boston Bruins. However, he was actively sought out by the franchise who drafted him. They attempted to sign Lars Jonsson on multiple occasions, but just couldn’t get a deal done. Of course, the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement had something to do with it, but eventually the Swedish-product signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. Ugh, how rude! At least it wasn’t with the Montreal Canadians. Can someone dislike a franchise that much to not even sign a deal to play in the NHL? I know I wouldn’t want to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins or Dallas Cowboys or New York Yankees, but then again, I’m not that good at anything so the point is moot. Let’s give Jonsson the benefit of doubt and say there was a cultural difference or language barrier that caused a misunderstanding. If he was from Ireland there probably would have been a contract signed in 30 seconds.
11. LOVED: LIONEL HITCHMAN
We’re digging really deep for this one. Lionel Hitchman (Pictured First Left) was the first ever captain of the Boston Bruins, and was only the second player in North American professional sports – that’s right, all sports – who had his number retired. He won the Stanley Cup for Boston in 1929, but also proved to take on the spirit of the city as he acquired the most penalty minutes for the franchise. A great defenseman during his career, and couldn’t even give it up toward the end, joining the Boston Cubs in the minor league before finally retiring. Of course, like many famous Boston players, he stayed in the organization as a coach for the Cubs and then later as an assistant for the Bruins. Maybe it’s the city that keeps people there, maybe it’s the people, but there is definitely something in the harbor. Hitchman loved Boston just like most players did and still do.
10. HATED: ZACH HAMILL
Who is Zach Hamill? I’m glad you asked. You can find Zach Hamill playing in Sweden at the moment – if you want to pay for a trip to Sweden and not gawk at all the beautiful women instead. Why is that relevant? I’m glad you asked again. Hamill (no relation to Mark by the way – or Luke as some of you may know him) was the Boston Bruins’ busted 2007 draft choice. The Bruins didn’t think Hamill was ready from the get-go, but when he was finally called up he didn’t perform as well as initially projected. In fact, the center didn’t even score a goal for Boston and only notched one assist in that span. He played for the Bruins once again in 2010-2011 for three games, but that wasn’t enough to get his name engraved on the coveted Stanley Cup that year after Boston had won. Sure, he received a ring, but you want your name etched in history! The Bruins couldn’t even give him that, but then again, he couldn’t give them quality ice time.
9. LOVED: PHIL ESPOSITO
Phil Esposito came to the Boston Bruins via a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks and whenever a player is traded they always have a chip on their shoulder. Esposito thanked Boston for acquiring him by becoming one of the best NHL players of all time. A simple example: he scored 126 points in 1969, the first player to ever eclipse 100 points in a season. Not bad, show-off. Another example, in the 1970-1971 season he set the record for most goals scored with 76. All right, we get it, Phil. Then, he eventually set another record by tallying 152 points in a season. Seriously, you’re great, okay, is that what you wanted to hear? Of course those records were later broken by this guy named Wayne Gretzky. Take that, Esposito. Esposito was another Bruin to have his number retired in Boston and is a Hall of Fame member. He became a celebrity in Beantown and still remains one of the greatest Bostonian athletes of all time.
8. HATED: JOE JUNEAU
Don’t get me wrong, Joe Juneau performed well during is short three-year stint with the Boston Bruins so you would think that he would have loved playing there. Whenever you’re jumping from team to team, you start to think that perhaps it’s you and not them. The Bruins thought it would have been best to trade Juneau to the Washington Capitals during the 1993-1994 season. Juneau played in Washington for six solid seasons, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals with the team in 1999. Soon after, he would be dealt to the Buffalo Sabres where he also reached the Stanley Cup Finals; though he did come up short in both of his appearances. Obviously the Bruins didn’t know what they actually had in Juneau, and it’s almost as if he played his career with spite toward Boston. Perhaps he should thank Boston for the opportunity, but to be traded away so quick and play what turned out to be a decent career must have left a bad taste in his mouth guard.
7. LOVED: RAY BOURQUE
Ray Bourque is without doubt a legend in the NHL. He scored a goal in his first ever game as a rookie for the Boston Bruins, and went on to play for the franchise for 21 seasons! People rarely stay at their jobs that long unless they have amazing benefits; people rarely stay in marriages that long… unless they have amazing benefits like rich in-laws. While in Boston, the team never missed the playoffs during Bourque’s tenure and he was also named a captain fairly early in his career. His number was retired by the Bruins and he is in the NHL Hall of Fame. Unfortunately for Bourque, he lost in his only two Stanley cup appearances with Boston. Fortunately for Bourque, he finally had the chance to lift the cup in 2001 as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Though he didn’t win for Boston, it says a lot about his love for the team if he stayed with them for 21 seasons – he even brought the Stanley Cup to Boston to share his glory with the town that gave him so much.
6. HATED: AL IAFRATE
Who in the world is Al Iafrate? I seriously am not going to try and pronounce his last name because I’m already butchering it just thinking about it. Well, since he’s on the list I guess we have to learn a little bit about him. Iafrate was the player who went to the Boston Bruins from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Joe Juneau. He compiled tons of penalty minutes so you would expect him to be adored by the Beantown crowd, but they only had the chance to cheer for him for a measly 12 games during the 1993-1994. Hell, I could play 12 games – I may die from a check, but I think I could skate around here and there until that moment occurs. Maybe he just didn’t want to go to Boston? He had a solid tenure as a Capital so maybe he was bitter. Who would of thought these players would be so picky; especially considering some really have no right to complain.
5. LOVED: CAM NEELY
Like Ray Bourque, Cam Neely is an NHL legend. He was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Boston Bruins and never looked back. He was given a wonderful opportunity to shine and took complete advantage of it. He was a physical player and tough – he actually lost the tip of his pinky during a game, received some stitches, and then came back to the ice to finish the match. That’s wicked awesome. For his size, he was a great goal scorer as well, and when he tamed his anger and spent less time in the penalty box then he became a force for the rest of his long career. After he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he eventually returned to the Boston franchise as Vice President – then become President a few years later. Though he had many triumphs as a player, he was able to lift the Stanley Cup as part of the front office finally, and against the team that gave up on him early in his career, Vancouver – and on their ice.
4. HATED: TYLER SEGUIN
Tyler Seguin made an impact for the Boston Bruins right from the start. He was scratched during the start of the playoffs in 2011, but eventually was given his opportunity to shine once again, and did so by becoming the first teenager to tally at least four points in the playoffs since the Vancouver Canucks’ Trevor Linden did it in the late ‘80s. Sequin won the Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Bruins and a relationship was blossoming. In 2013, he lost the Stanley Cup and was then traded to the Dallas Stars during the offense, and rumors of an attitude and discipline problem surrounded the break. Eesh, talk about a short leash! There has to be some spite there – actually there is probably a lot of spite. It’s similar to like a layoff at a huge cooperation. You prove your worth time and time again and then are just as disposable as the next person, but if you don’t like who you work for then it’s probably also an issue. If Boston respected him a little more than he probably would have enjoyed his time with the Bruins.
3. LOVED: JOhNNY BUCYK
Ukrainian Johnny Bucyk loved, and still loves, the Boston Bruins. He arrived in Beantown via a trade with the Detroit Red Wings, and throughout his 21-year stay with the franchise he suffered through the downs and relished in the ups. He got used to the basement of the standings for five seasons in the ’60s, but the team became a powerhouse toward the latter end of the decade. Bucyk was the team Captain when they won the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, and after his retirement in 1978 the Bruins retired his #9. The Hall of Famer has spent over 50 years with the Bruins’ franchise as a player, broadcaster, and front office member. I have never heard of dedication and loyalty like that, but you have to do whatever it is you have to do in order to not return to the Ukraine – so I would assume, but I’m not in a hurry to find out.
2. HATED: TERRY SAWCHUK
On the other end of the Johnny Bucyk trade was star-goaltender Terry Sawchuk. Sawchuk was a Detroit Red Wing from 1949-1955 before being sent to the Boston Bruins. Wait, I thought Bucyk came from the Red Wings and Sawchuk from the Bruins? Well, you thought right, and if you would let me finish then I would be happy to let you know how it all worked out. Geez. Sawchuk spent just two seasons in Boston before being traded back to the Red Wings. Detroit had a younger goaltender who took Sawchuk’s job, but the veteran was determined to return. Sawchuk was a disaster in Boston; he was either sick or injured, and even threatened to retire. Man, you must really not want to play somewhere. Eventually, as we all know now that we listened, Sawchuk returned to Detroit two years later for Bucyk. The Hall of Fame goaltender unfortunately passed away at a young age after long stints with depression, alcoholism, and poor conduct. We’re not blaming the Bruins for that by the way.
1. LOVED: BOBBY ORR
Even if you don’t follow hockey, you should know who Bobby Orr is. If not, then you probably don’t really know a lot about sports and accidentally stumbled upon this post. Thanks for the view. Orr is considered one of the 50 greatest athletes of the 20th century so that should kind of sum up how respected his name is in the NHL – or in sports in general. He played for the Boston Bruins from 1966-1976 and hoisted two Stanley Cups with the team, being named the MVP both times. He holds six NHL records, and once held eight others that have since been surpassed. That’s pretty good I guess. His number is retired in Boston, is an obvious Hall of Famer, he has won multiple league MVPs, and was the only player to win four trophies in one season (Norris, Hart, Con Smythe, and Art Ross). Don’t worry, you read that right. Boston loves him so much that there is a statue of the great skater outside the stadium. I always thought that if you had a Wikipedia page you’ve made it, but a statue? That’s love.