Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Boston Bruins from A to Z

Puck Daddy
Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Boston Bruins from A to Z
Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Boston Bruins from A to Z

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Sarah Connors, associate editor at Stanley Cup of Chowder

A. Art Ross

Getty Images
Getty Images

No better place to start than at the beginning.

When Boston was granted an expansion team in 1924, the first thing owner Charlie Adams did was to hire Art Ross for the roles of vice president, general manager, coach, and scout. No pressure there, Art.

Aside from managing the Bruins for their first thirty years of existence, Ross also contributed to development of hockey in general - he revolutionized the shape of the net and the puck, was pivotal in developing the red and blue lines, and was the first coach to pull his goaltender for a sixth skater.

Although the Bruins were garbage in their first season of play, only winning six games over the course of the season, Ross was able to capitalize on his connections in US and Canadian hockey - especially in 1926 with the collapse of the Western Hockey League, when he was able to acquire the rights to Eddie Shore.

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Ross’ contributions to the team are immeasurable; he lead the team to its first three Stanley Cups and quickly developed them into a team that would be a contender most years for their entire existence.

B. Bear

While the Bruins’ official mascot is Blades the Bear (above), the Bear from these commercials has become the unofficial mascot of everyone’s hearts. 

He even did a victory dance after the Bruins swept the Canadiens in 2009.

The Bruins were smart enough to give this guy his own sitcom, aptly titled “Bear and the Gang.” Check out these guys’ sweet acting skills.

C. Cam Neely

‘Bam-Bam Cam,’ the guy who all power forwards model their game after, has gone from 90s power forward to team president.

Neely has had a massive impact on the Bruins. The team won their sixth Stanley Cup on his watch (a feat which owner Jeremy Jacobs decided to point out, at the victory parade, he wasn’t able to accomplish as a player. In case you needed more reasons to hate Jacobs.)  

He played for the Bruins from 1986-1996, and would have played for longer had he not sustained massive injuries, particularly to his knees. He also scored 50 goals in 44 games - a major feat considering he sat out all but 49 games that year due to injury.

D. Dunkin Donuts Center

’The Dunk’ is the home of the AHL’s Providence Bruins, Boston’s minor league affiliate. Currently coached by Bruce Cassidy, the P-Bruins have made several good playoff runs in the last few years, and have won the Calder Cup once, in the 1998-1999 season.

A good chunk of the current Boston Bruins team developed their skills in the AHL; this includes Tuukka Rask, Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and this guy: 

E. Esposito, Phil

The co-founder of the Tampa Bay Lightning has a rich history with the Bruins; he was the greatest scorer of his time.

He was the first NHL player to score over 100 points - in fact scoring 126 in 1969. Two years later he scored 152, a total that included 76 goals - numbers that were finally eclipsed by Wayne Gretzky, but not before.

His goal-scoring prowess inspired a series of excellent bumper stickers reading “Jesus Saves - Espo Scores on the Rebound!” Pretty cool. When his jersey was retired, then-Captain of the Bruins Ray Bourque had been wearing Espo’s number 7. Here’s what happened.

F. Fred Cusick

Brighton, Massachusetts native Fred Cusick was the television play-by-play announcer for the Bruins from 1971 until 1997. Including his radio broadcasts prior to that, he was a Bruins announcer for 45 years. Instrumental in getting the Bruins onto local television on a regular basis in the 1960s, Cusick was inducted in the first wave of media honorees in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He called the first US network NHL broadcast in January 1957 and the last game at the old Boston Garden.

G. Game 7’s

Here is a thing Bruins fans have gotten intimately familiar with in the past few years, last year’s playoff miss notwithstanding.

During the most recent arc of Bruins success - 2008 to 2014 - the Bruins have played in nine game 7’s, including their first game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals ever. They’ve only won four of those series, losing in 2008 to the Canadiens, 2009 to the Hurricanes in sudden death overtime, 2010 to the Flyers, 2012 to the Capitals in sudden death overtime, and 2014 to the Canadiens again - but the four wins were phenomenal. Three came in 2011 en route to the Stanley Cup, and the fourth?

H. Hunwick, Matt (the penalty box good luck charm)

Sure, sure, there were probably a ton of other things we could have put for the letter H but COME ON!

I. Iginla, Jarome

Once upon a time, the Bruins were told that Calgary had agreed to a deal that would send Alex Khokhlachev, Matt Bartkowski, and the Bruins’ 2013 first-round pick to Calgary for Jarome Iginla. This news leaked during that night’s Bruins-Canadiens game, which the Bruins proceeded to lose. Bartkowski had been scratched, Khokhlachev had been scratched in Providence, and Iginla hadn’t even gone to the rink. It seemed like a done deal. Aaron Ward tweeted that it was a done deal.

And then suddenly….it wasn’t.

Around 1am Thursday morning, reports began to leak that Iginla was actually headed to the Penguins, and that’s what ended up happening. Iginla did end up coming to the Bruins the following season, but not before his Penguins were swept out of the playoffs by the Bruins en route to the Cup finals. 2013 was a very weird time for everyone.

J. Jack Edwards

How do I begin to explain Jack Edwards. Jack is the current play-by-play guy for the Bruins on NESN. He’s known for his goofy speeches, his abrasive opinions, and his excitable calling style. Locals love him, visiting teams hate him, and paired with Andy Brickley, he makes Bruins games on NESN an experience. Here is a Jack Edwards soundboard!

Here he is calling the end of game 7 against Toronto a few years ago:

K. Kraut Line

Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, and Bobby Bauer, three players of German descent who hailed from Kitchener, Ontario and lived together in a single room in Brookline, made up the ‘Kraut Line’ - over the course of seven seasons this line terrorized the NHL, and won the Stanley Cup twice.

They played together from 1937-1942, and again from 1945-1947, breaking in between to fight in World War II with the Royal Canadian Air Force. In the last game before heading off to the war, the line accumulated 22 points against Montreal en route to an 8-1 victory, and were carried off on theirs and the Canadiens’ shoulders after the game.

Milt Schmidt is the only surviving member of the line. 

L. Lunch Pail AC

In the twilight of Bobby Orr’s career, Don Cherry stepped in as coach of the Bruins, and as the team stocked itself with grinders and enforcers and managed to remain competitive, the Cherry era became known as the Lunch Pail A.C. The idea was that these were blue-collar players that would “grab their lunch pail” and go to work every day.

Part of the construction of this team involved one of the most controversial trades in Bruins history, a trade that sent Phil Esposito to the Rangers. This iteration of the team was lead by guys like Stan Jonathan and Terry O’Reilly, and bench-clearing brawls became commonplace - and brawls with fans happened more than once.

M. Marco Sturm

We’ll always remember Marco Sturm’s overtime game-winner in the 2010, but more important, arguably, was his goal that spurred an eighth-seed Bruins team to a game 6 victory in 2008 against the hated Canadiens.

 A team that had zero expectations, a team that was just beginning to pull itself out of the basement it’d been in the last few years - this team had been down 3-1 in the series, and came back to force a game 7 in front of the most raucous crowd the FleetCenter had ever seen - or would ever see until 2011 (scrub to 2:00).

Suddenly, this team had hope again. Fans began to have expectations. And the following season didn’t disappoint - the 2008-2009 Bruins nearly won the President’s Trophy. Unrelatedly, Sturm was also known for the incredibly hilarious faces he made after goals, which you can sort of see in action as he lays a ping-pong beatdown on a small child here:

N. Nathan Horton

In the summer of 2010, Nathan Horton was introduced to the Bruins faithful at a baseball game, alongside new draft pick Tyler Seguin. He quickly slotted in alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic and racked up 70 points through 80 regular season games and 21 playoff games.

What endeared him to fans though wasn’t the number of points, or that time he hilariously fought Dion Phaneuf, or anything else - but this, this slaying of the Canadiens in Game 7 overtime.

Horton was an incredibly integral part of the 2011 Stanley Cup team - he scored the game winner earlier in that same series as well. Unable to play due to a bad hit from Vancouver’s Aaron Rome, Horton famously poured water from TD Garden ice onto the ice in Vancouver as a good luck charm before game 7.

And, well, we all know how that ended.

O. Orr, Bobby!

This is the single most iconic moment in Bruins history. Everyone has seen it, whether you’ve been a fan for a minute or a lifetime. And it’s only a single moment in an illustrious career.

Bobby Orr, who played for the Bruins from 1966 to 1976, is arguably the greatest player to ever play the game. Yes, people will argue “but Gretzky” but while Gretzky was good, he didn’t significantly alter the game for the sport as a whole the way Orr did.

Orr revolutionized the position of defenseman, moving the puck through all three zones with incredible ease. “Puck-moving defenseman” originated with Orr. He helped the Bruins to two Stanley Cups; he himself won the Norris Trophy eight times, the Art Ross twice, and three consecutive Hart Trophies as the league MVP.

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Eventually he went to the Blackhawks as a free agent in 1976, but had to retire in 1978, as repeated injuries to his left knee left him unable to play. He retired at age 30. Can you imagine if he’d been able to play longer?

(Side note here: an A-Z article is nowhere near long enough to talk about Bobby Orr, and it feels like an inadequacy even trying to do so. Please read the book “Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins” as well as “Orr: My Story.” You have two months until the season starts! Get on it!) 

P. Parking Lot

In September of 1995, the Bruins took the ice in a 67-year-old building for the last time. A new, shinier building was to open for the regular season that year - the Fleet Center, a building with 17,565 seats to the Garden’s 14,448. The Bruins took one last skate around before a preseason game and that was it - The Boston Garden was torn down once the Fleet Center opened, just like in the old song - paradise paved over into a parking lot.

But truly, maybe ‘paradise’ is too nice of a word for the old gah-den. Opened in 1928, the building was the Bruins’ second home after Boston Arena (later Northeastern’s Matthews Arena, it’s still open today.) They christened the place by losing 1-0 to the Canadiens, setting a pattern for years to come. The Garden had obstructed sightlines galore, the seats were steep and often the players said they felt as if the crowd was “right on top of them” - creating an incredible atmosphere for the home team, with crazy acoustics, and a difficult one for visiting teams.

The ice was too small (191x83, where standard NHL ice is 200x85) because it was built before the NHL standardized sizes. The building had no air conditioning, which meant fog would form over the ice in warm weather. The visitors’ dressing room was tiny, the benches were on opposite sides of the ice unlike in every other building, and twice - twice! - their Stanley Cup Finals appearances were interrupted by power outages.

Multiple new arenas were proposed between 1972 and 1992, as the building was starting to deteriorate by the early 70s; all of them fell through until Delaware Noth’s 1992 Shawmut Center proposal. There was even one proposal to move the Bruins to Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire, in 1980. But the Shawmut Center was built, renamed several times, and now what we’re left with is the cement box we know and love, TD Garden - and a parking lot where the Boston Garden used to stand.

Q. Quebec

Despite being the home of the Bruins’ biggest rivals in all of hockey, la belle province has given the Bruins many gems over the years.

Of the 955 players all-time that have played for Boston, 101 of them were born in Quebec. (For comparison, 330 have hailed from Ontario, 38 from British Columbia, and only 60 from Massachusetts.) Two of them have been super instrumental in Bruins’ history: Ray Bourque and Patrice Bergeron. Bourque played 1,518 games for the Bruins over 21 seasons before leaving for Colorado; Bergeron’s been here since he was drafted, and has logged 740 games. If Bergeron plays a full season in 2015-2016, he’s going to pass some notable names on the “games played as a Bruin” list - Dit Clapper, PJ Axelsson, Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, and the one and only Mike Milbury.

I could wax poetic about Ray Bourque leaving for Colorado, winning a cup, and bringing it home to Boston instead of to Quebec; I could also wax poetic about how I hope Patrice Bergeron plays until he’s 40 and becomes Captain and the all-time leader for games played as a Bruin, but instead, I will leave you with this gif and on we go. Quebec: thanks for everything!

R. Rene Rancourt

Rene Rancourt is the Bruins’ anthem singer. While fans around the league may really only know him for his fistpumps, his warbly singing, and his incredible taste in waistcoats (I mean really…)

Rene’s actual story is pretty cool. He’s been singing at Bruins games since the 70’s; they chose him to sing regularly because his voice could overcome the weird acoustics at the old Garden. He’s from Lewiston Maine and got his start after winning an opera singing contest on the radio. His first major gig was the 1975 World Series, filling in for Kate Smith.

His signature moves after he sings are as follows, and for the following reasons: he fist-pumps because his favorite player, Stump Burridge, used to do a windmill-pup salute after he scored goals in the late 80s and early 90s. He salutes as a tribute to men and women in the armed forces, but also because one time, an elderly woman called him to tell him that she only paid for cable to watch him sing the anthems before games, and that she usually changed the channel after that. He added the salute for her, after that.

Rene’s anthems may be a bit cheeseball for the taste of most hockey fans, but he’s near and dear to our hearts here in Boston. 

S. Standells!

Easy one! The Standells song “Dirty Water” is played at Fenway Park when the Red Sox win games, and the Bruins adopted that tradition. You can hear it start to play after the goal celebration ends here; right when the tambourine kicks in. For a Boston sports fan, that tambourine elicits a Pavlovian reaction of extreme sports joy.

Legend has it that it even played in Vancouver after game 7 there, which, if true, is a totally awesome move by that organization. Especially classy considering how hard the Bruins musically trolled the Canucks during game 6….

T. Too Many Men

So the Bruins are winning this playoff game 4-3 in 1979 at the Forum, right. There’s three minutes left. Don Cherry is coaching. Winner goes to the Stanley Cup Final. So of course, what happens? The Bruins get caught with seven guys on the ice, Guy Lafleur ties it up on the power play, and Yvon Lambert scores the game winner in overtime. Humiliation! Sadness! Devastation! Don Cherry getting fired after the season! Fun times for everyone.

In 2010, basically the same thing happened - the Bruins were up 3-0 in the series against the Flyers, the Flyers came back from 3-0 down to win in game seven, and one of the crucial moments for the Flyers in that game was a too many men call where Marc Savard hopped off the bench too early to replace Vladimir Sobotka, the Bruins got caught out, and the Flyers ended up winning that game.

Too Many Men: the call that traumatized multiple generations of Bruins fans!

U. Uke Line

The Uke line of John Bucyk, Bronco Horvath, and Vic Stasiuk, got started in the WHL in 1955, where the three of them skated together for the Edmonton Flyers. Named since all three players were of Ukranian descent, the three players skated together from 1957-1960.

V. Vezina

Look at that flawless Finn winning things.

The Bruins actually have a pretty good tradition of winning the Vezina, the trophy given to the season’s best goaltender. When it was still the trophy given to the goaltender in the league who allowed the fewest goals against, Tiny Thompson won it four times between 1929 and 1936; Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek won it in 1939 and 1942; in 1982 it was changed to its current format, and since then it’s been won by a Bruin four times. Pete Peeters won in 1982; Tim Thomas has won it twice, and Tuukka Rask won in 2014.

W. Willie O’Ree

Willie O’Ree, shown here tolerating some Flyers players, was the first Black player in the NHL. Born in Fredericton New Brunswick, he played 45 games in the NHL, all for Boston. He finished his career playing primarily in the WHL for the Los Angeles Blades and San Diego Gulls.

X. playoffs (streak)

The NHL puts a little X next to your team’s name on nhl.com when they make the playoffs. And while the Red Wings may have the longest active NHL playoff streak, they’ve still got a few years to go to topple the Bruins’ record 29 years in a row making the playoffs. A streak that went from 1967-68 to 1995-96, the Bruins won the cup two times during that time period.

Y. Yellow

Yellow is not a Bruins color. It’s not Black and Yellow, sorry, that’s Pittsburgh. Black and Gold are the colors of the Bruins. They were formerly brown and yellow, however, the colors of Finast grocery store - the chain owned by the first owner of the team, Charlie Adams.

Adams bought the franchise after watching the Stanley Cup Final between Montreal and Calgary, and decided he wanted to bring the NHL to North America. He and Art Ross wanted the mascot to be an animal with speed and cunning, and of course, to fit in with the color scheme of his grocery store. It was Ross’ secretary, Bessie Moss, who suggested that perhaps rather than Bears, the name could be “Bruins.” It stuck.

Z. Zdeno Chara. Obviously.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Years from now, I imagine, Zdeno Chara will become the stuff of legends for us telling our kids and grandkids about the 2008-2014 rise and fall of the Bruins. “Our captain,” we’ll say, “you know, the guy before Patrice Bergeron took over. He was this eight foot tall Slovakian behemoth who won the Norris trophy a few times, could speak eighteen languages, had his real estate license because he wanted something to do in the offseason, and, oh yeah - when he lifted the Stanley Cup, he knocked his own hat off.”

I think that’s a good tale of Zdeno Chara. When Chara and Savard were brought in by Peter Chiarelli before the 2006 season, the team was in a hard rebuild. They clearly believed Chara had what it took to be the leadership this team needed to right the wrongs and drag a stagnating team out of mediocrity into a new age.

And, well, they were right.

The Bruins have missed the playoffs two times since Chara arrived; the first season, and this most recent season. In between are seven solid seasons with Chara as an anchor on defense. He’s able to neutralize all of the NHL’s big guns; he’s been rock solid, and hey - he can pull out a move or two every once in a while. Poor Huberdeau.

Meet the author: Sarah is an associate editor for SBNation’s Stanley Cup of Chowder. She got to lift the Stanley Cup once - before the Bruins won it - thus proving that superstitions are bullshit. She has a lot of opinions and stories about the Bruins and would love to share them with you - you can find her expressing them in all-caps on Twitter at @sarah_connors.

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