Boston Bruins: Best Players in Team History to Wear Each Unretired Number
As far as the records go, per hockey-reference.com, Boston Bruins players have worn 80 different uniform numbers in the club’s 88-year history. Of those numbers, 10 will never again be worn on the opposite side of a spoked-B.
In case the summer has left anyone rusty in the way of history scholarship, the retired jerseys include Eddie Shore (2), Lionel Hitchman (3), Bobby Orr (4), Dit Clapper (5), Phil Esposito (7), Cam Neely (8), Johnny Bucyk (9), Milt Schmidt (15), Terry O’Reilly (24) and Ray Bourque (77).
At least one or two players who delivered the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup 14 months ago are all but bound to join that club once they have closed out their career. Although, there is no need to rule out every other former Bruin’s chances of garnering the same honor in the interim.
A legitimate case can be made for about a handful of the following, while the rest can at least lend a fun element of trivia to chew on while one waits the offseason out.
Here now is the quintessence of each number ever worn by a Bruin that has yet to be perched on the ceiling at TD Garden.
No. 1: Frank Brimsek
He boasted the best record, lowest goals-against average and most shutouts among his competitors as a rookie in 1938-39. He helped Boston repeat as regular-season champions each of the following two years and also posted the most shutouts and fewest losses while barely losing the GAA derby to Toronto’s Turk Broda in 1940-41.
Brimsek reclaimed the unofficial GAA title and the Vezina in 1941-42.
Honorable mention: Tiny Thompson, Reggie Lemelin
No. 6: Joe Thornton
No. 10: Jean Ratelle
Swapped from the Rangers to the Bruins early in the 1975-76 season at the age of 35, Ratelle led his new team in scoring in each of his first two seasons on board. He placed no lower than fourth on Boston’s charts until his final year in 1980-81, when he saw action in only 47 games.
Honorable mention: Barry Pederson
No. 11: Tommy Williams
Half of Williams’ eight seasons with the Bruins were severely short-circuited by injuries. Had he been available for the better part of each those campaigns, he doubtlessly would have finished among the top echelon of team scorers more often.
Honorable mention: Bill Quackenbush, PJ Axelsson
No. 12: Adam Oates
No. 13: Ken Linseman
Acquired from Edmonton in the summer of 1984, Linseman was the team’s third-leading point-getter in his first year as a Bruin. He subsequently placed second on the scoring charts in three of the next four seasons, including 1987-88, when he also led Boston with a plus-36 rating and was its top playoff producer en route to the Stanley Cup Finals.
He was also, shall we say, on the edge. Sort of what Brad Marchand is today.
Honorable mention: Bill Guerin
No. 14: Woody Dumart
One-third of the famed Kraut Line with Bobby Bauer and Milt Schmidt, Dumart was first in team scoring in 1947-48, third the year prior and second in three other seasons, finishing with 429 points in 771 career contests.
Honorable mention: Sergei Samsonov
No. 16: Rick Middleton
Middleton twice cracked the triple-digit plateau in the point column (1980-81 and 1983-84) and has had three of the 25 most productive individual seasons and four of the top 30 in Bruins’ history.
Honorable mentions: Leo Labine and Derek Sanderson
No. 17: Bobby Bauer
No. 18: Nathan Horton
Appropriately enough, this selection went to virtual overtime between Horton and Ed Westfall, with the former prevailing. The two men’s best years with the Bruins bear some similarities in terms of production rates, but Horton has only needed one playoff run to eclipse any tournament that Westfall partook in.
No. 19: Tyler Seguin
As precarious as predicting may be, Seguin is on a clear-cut path to become the long-elusive elite scorer after his sophomore surge from 22 to 67 points.
Honorable mentions: Pie McKenzie, Dave Poulin
No. 20: Dallas Smith
No. 21: Jerry Toppazzini
No. 22: Brad Park
Over his Boston tenure, Park accumulated a stat line of 501 games-played, 100 goals, 317 assists and a plus-182 rating.
Honorable mention: Jozef Stumpel
No. 23: Steve Heinze
The Lawrence, MA, native and Boston College product stuck around the 617 area code for an additional nine years, long enough to tally 131 goals and 108 assists for his hometown team.
Ironically, Heinze’s best year with the Bruins could have been in 1996-97, when he was limited to only 30 appearances on a non-playoff team, yet managed 17 goals and 25 points.
Honorable mention: Johnny Pierson, Charlie Simmer
No. 25: Gary Doak
The defensive defenseman was a cumulative plus-125 in 609 twirls as a Bruin.
Honorable mention: Andy Brickley, Hal Gill
No. 26: Glen Wesley
No. 27: Glen Murray
No. 28: Mark Recchi
Recchi had already turned 41 when he made the last stop of his NHL career in Boston. Yet he proved an exemplary leader through an output of 42-65-107 in 180 regular-season outings and 14-16-30 over 49 playoff games.
No. 29: Brad McCrimmon
McCrimmon, who tragically perished last year when his KHL’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team plane crashed, began his career as only a slight cut below Ray Bourque.
The Bruins chose him 15th overall in 1979, a mere seven picks behind Bourque. In his sophomore season in 1980-81, he finished second only to his fellow second-year defenseman for the team lead with a sound plus-27 rating.
No. 30: Gerry Cheevers
Cheevers is in exclusive company with the aforementioned Brimsek as the only goalies to be in the crease for two Bruins’ Stanley Cup title runs.
By the way, if you’re wondering where the more recent Cup-winning cage custodian is, trust me, his mention is coming.
Honorable mention: Bill Ranford
No. 31: Ron Grahame
No. 32: Don Sweeney
No. 33: Zdeno Chara
Is the incumbent captain an obvious choice here? Perhaps, but what more do you need than a Norris Trophy, a Stanley Cup, multiple All-Star appearances, back-to-back plus-33 seasons and the promising potential for more where all of that came from?
Honorable mention: Anson Carter
No. 34: Byron Dafoe
Since the end of World War II, only one Boston backstop has broken double digits in the shutout column during a single season. That would be Lord Byron in 1998-99.
In addition, Dafoe’s 35 wins from 2001-02 have twice been tied by Tim Thomas for the fifth most by an individual Bruins stopper in a single season.
No. 35: Andy Moog
Moog shared the 1989-90 Jennings Trophy with Reggie Lemelin and took the bigger half of the workload as the Bruins reached the third round of the playoffs in 1990, 1991 and 1992.
No. 36: Dave Reid
Reid wore three different numbers over the course of two separate stints in Boston. His years as No. 36 were his formative years when he split time between the NHL and AHL.
No. 37: Patrice Bergeron
The 27-year-old Bergeron, the franchise’s only holdover from before the 2004-05 lockout, is versatile, untouchable and hardly half-finished with his career.
If he so much as doubles those totals, he will be rivaling Bucyk, Cashman, Esposito, Middleton and Orr in one or more of those categories.
But remember that, since missing much of the 2007-08 season, he has steadily improved with each successive year. Ultimately succeeding Chara as team captain and chasing some of Bourque’s records is not out of the question for Bergeron.
No. 38: Vladimir Ruzicka
No. 39: Greg Johnston
Only twice did Johnston spend the majority of a season in The Show, but he sprinkled a decent 27 points over 76 games in 1986-87 and 20 points over 57 appearances in 1988-89.
Honorable mention: Travis Green
No. 40: Tuukka Rask
The New England fanbase is eagerly waiting to see if Rask can translate his head-turning, league-leading numbers from 2009-10 from a 45-game to 57-, 58- or 59-game workload.
He has plenty left to prove, but also plenty to build upon with a career line of 102 games, a 47-35-11 record, a 2.20 goals-against average and .926 save percentage.
No. 41: Jason Allison
No. 42: Bob Sweeney
Concomitant with the team’s two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals were a pair of 22-goal seasons for the local product in 1987-88 and 1989-90.
No. 43: Al Iafrate
Finishing the 1993-94 campaign in Boston, Iafrate went on a sugar rush to tally 13 points in 12 home-stretch games, then sprinkled three goals and an assist over 12 playoff outings.
No. 44: Dennis Seidenberg
Just as McCrimmon and Sweeney managed to make their mark even while Bourque was the regal blue-line performer, Seidenberg has not been overlooked despite working with the likes of Chara.
Honorable mention: Nick Boynton, Aaron Ward
No. 45: Mark Stuart
Granted, he was only up for 15 games, but Stuart set a tone for his career in the 2006-07 season. His plus-seven rating was the best and one of only two positive ratings on a team that was writhing under the misguidance of Dave Lewis.
Until he was exported to Atlanta, the sizable blueliner garnered 13 goals, 40 points and a plus-37 in 283 outings with the Bruins.
Honorable mention: Andrew McKim, Sandy Moger
No. 46: David Krejci
Krejci placed second on the team in scoring in each of his first three full NHL seasons, then capped off that trend with a team-best 12-11-23 transcript in the 2011 playoffs.
No. 47: John Grahame
No. 48: Matt Hunwick
Save for a one-night return in February, Hunwick came up from Providence permanently in October 2008, contributing to Boston’s surge from eighth place the year prior to the summit of the Eastern Conference.
Honorable mention: Graeme Townshend, Fred Knipscheer
No. 49: Joe Juneau
No. 50: Chris Taylor
Taylor’s 37 games-played, three goals and eight points are all more than triple the combined accumulations of the other Bruins to have worn No. 50.
No. 51: Andrei Kovalenko
Kovalenko placed sixth on the scoring chart during his lone season with the Bruins in 2000-01.
No. 52: Carl Corazzini
No. 53: Derek Morris
No. 54: Adam McQuaid
McQuaid’s first full NHL season saw him tie three others for fifth in the league with a plus-30 rating in the regular season, followed by a regular roster spot in a run to the Cup.
No. 55: Johnny Boychuk
Although he has yet to fully translate his two-way game from the AHL to the NHL, Boychuk has done his day job on defense irreproachably. He has quickly honed a habit of rivaling Seidenberg in the hitting and shot-blocking department and generally keeps the opposition from pestering the Boston netminder as well as the rest of the blue-line brigade.
No. 56: Darren Banks
In 20 NHL games, all with the Bruins, Banks accrued four points and a plus-five rating.
No. 57: Antti Laaksonen
No. 58: Carter Camper
No. 59: Rich Brennan
Brennan, whose final seven out of 50 total NHL career games came with the black and gold, goes uncontested for this slide.
No. 60: Vladimir Sobotka
Sobotka’s best days are likely still to come in St. Louis, but he had a few preliminary glimmers with the Bruins, including four points in 19 total playoff games.
No. 61: Byron Bitz
No. 62: Milan Lucic
No. 63: Brad Marchand
Assuming his new numerals upon coming north from Providence in 2010, Marchand did what his predecessor, Matt Herr, couldn’t do nearly a decade prior. He earned his permanent spot in The Show with a 41-point campaign and an unlikely 19-point playoff run to polish off his rookie season with Lord Stanley.
No. 64: Jarno Kultanen
No. 65: Brett Harkins
No. 67: Benoit Pouliot
Pouliot became the first Bruin to don these digits as he passed through the home hockey locker room at TD Garden and notched 16 goals and 16 helpers last year.
No. 68: Milan Jurcina
No. 70: Tim Thomas
No. 71: Jiri Slegr
No. 72: Peter Schaefer
No. 73: Michael Ryder
After Ryder helped his Habs repress the upset-minded Bruins in that 2008 series, he converted to the other side of the rivalry for the start of the 2008-09 campaign. The next three seasons saw 63 regular-season goals come off his twig, plus a 17-18-35 stat line in the playoffs, all culminating in the 2011 Stanley Cup title.
No. 74: Paul Coffey
No. 75: Colton Orr
The lone regular-season occupant of a Bruins’ No. 75 jersey wore it for his first 21 NHL ventures.
No. 76: Dennis Bonvie
All of the journeyman minor-league enforcer’s three NHL points, a goal and two helpers, came during his 23-game stint with Boston in 2001-02.
No. 81: Phil Kessel
No. 83: Pat Leahy
Leahy earned his stripes in Providence for three years, then played the better part of the 2005-06 season with the parent club.
No. 89: Zdenek Blatny
This number has only been sported by one player for five games in the team’s history, but Blatny was there.
No. 91: Marc Savard
Nobody else has worn this number for America’s oldest NHL franchise, but Savard certainly made it radiant by totaling assists in the 60s and 70s during his three healthy seasons as a Bruin.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!