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.