The Starting Six series comes to you to dive into the best player at each position all-time for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Boston Bruins all-time lineup.
Starting Six: Boston Bruins All-Time Lineup
Center: Phil Esposito (1967-76)
The Bruins organization is known for having good strength at center, notably with players like four-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron leading the team in modern times. But in terms of all-time record, Esposito is a sure choice at center. He led with five Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Trophy wins, two Ted Lindsay Award wins (then called the Lester B. Pearson Award), and two Stanley Cups in his nine seasons with the Bruins. He also still holds team records for even-strength goals (286) and game-winners (77).
Left Wing: Johnny Bucyk (1955-1978)
Almost forty years after retiring from the game, Bucyk, also known by his nickname “The Chief” is still the franchise leader for goals with 545 and adjusted franchise points with 1,353. When he was playing, the 6’0″, 215-pound winger was among the largest players in the league. A member of the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup winning teams, he also continues to work for the team, making him a mentor for players entering the system. His name was engraved on the Cup a third time in 2011 as the team’s director of road services.
Right Wing: Cam Neely (1986-1996)
The franchise record holder for career hat tricks (13), Neely made a name for himself in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with his physical play style that became a prototype for many power forwards to come. During the 1993-94 season, he became only the second player in history to score 50 goals in less than 50 games (this record of 44, second only to Wayne Gretzky, is considered unofficial, however, because they were not the Bruins first 50 games but rather Neely’s). The fact that he now serves as team president is also a factor.
Defenseman: Bobby Orr (1966-1978)
It wouldn’t be a Bruins list without including the player who is considered by many to be one of, if not the best, defenseman of all time and record eight-time Norris Trophy winner Bobby Orr. Leading the team to Stanley Cup wins in 1970 and 1972, his career was cut short after only 12 years. It’s a shame to think about the records that he could have broken had he been able to play longer.
Defenseman: Ray Bourque (1979-2000)
Bourque still holds the franchise records for games played (1,518), power play goals (164), adjusted assists (996), and points (1,506). Despite being traded to the Colorado Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup, Boston fans still appreciate him, and were proud to see him end his career on a high note.
Goalie: Gerry Cheevers (1965-1980)
When discussing Boston’s history in goal, there are a lot of legends that come to mind. In the early days, players like Tiny Thompson and Frank Brimsek had careers that still top the team’s records before being adjusted for modern statistical purposes. For this lineup, however, Cheevers was the pick. A two-time Stanley Cup winner with Boston, his famous hash-marked mask has become an iconic image that many fans in the modern era attribute with hockey goalies. He also coached the team from 1980 to 1984. Had he not left for four seasons in the WHA, he may have taken over some of the records still held by his predecessors.
Honorable mentions: Because of the long and storied history of the Boston Bruins, choosing only six players was very difficult. In addition to those mentioned above, some of the ones who almost made the cut are forwards Adam Oates, Ken Hodge, and Terry O’Reilly; Defensemen Eddie Shore and Zdeno Chara; and the diverse player and former coach Milt Schmidt.