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Boston Bruins: Best Players in Team History to Wear Each Unretired Number

Al DanielCorrespondent IIJanuary 10, 2017

Boston Bruins: Best Players in Team History to Wear Each Unretired Number

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    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

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    In his first four NHL seasons, Brimsek backstopped the Bruins to two Stanley Cups, garnered two Vezina Trophies and hovered at or near the top of the leaderboard in every key goaltending category.

    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

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    Although he has claimed more fame with “19” on his back, Thornton began to blossom in his third and final year as No. 6, leading the 1999-2000 Bruins with a 23-37-60 scoring log.

    Honorable mention: Ted Green

No. 10: Jean Ratelle

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    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

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    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

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    The top playmaker and point-getter in each of four full seasons with the Bruins between 1992-93 and 1995-96, Oates most certainly would have eclipsed Jozef Stumpel if not for a late-season trade to Washington in 1996-97.

    Honorable mention: Wayne Cashman, Dmitri Khristich

No. 13: Ken Linseman

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    Bauer’s productivity was all the more impressive when you consider his 5'7", 160-pound posture, which was undersized even for his era. In defiance of that, he spent seven sparkling seasons in Boston, going out at his peak with a career-high 30 goals in 1946-47.

    Honorable mention: Milan Lucic

No. 18: Nathan Horton

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    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

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    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

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    Only once in Smith’s Boston career was plus/minus kept on record, but in that 1975-76 season, he trumped his peers with a plus-42 rating. In addition, the bruising blueliner spent a full decade all but routinely breaking the 20-range in the assist column.

No. 21: Jerry Toppazzini

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    Toppazzini posted 20-plus goals in back-to-back seasons and later logged 50 points in consecutive years, including a 1960-61 campaign that saw him top the Bruins’ chart.

    Honorable mention: Don Marcotte, Ted Donato

No. 22: Brad Park

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    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

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    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

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    The defensive defenseman was a cumulative plus-125 in 609 twirls as a Bruin.

    Honorable mention: Andy Brickley, Hal Gill

No. 26: Glen Wesley

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    Only four other Boston blueliners have eclipsed Wesley’s career output of 230 assists and only three have bested his 307 points.

    Honorable mention: Mike Knuble, Brad Boyes, Blake Wheeler

No. 27: Glen Murray

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    Murray is the most recent Bruin to break the 40-goal plateau in a single season, his bushel of 44 from 2002-03 exceeding his previous career high of 35 the year prior.

No. 28: Mark Recchi

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    Before he was traded to Los Angeles for the draft pick that would be used to select Bourque, Grahame was a one-year wonder in 1977-78, charging up a 26-6-7 record in 40 appearances.

No. 32: Don Sweeney

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    Sweeney is one of the four men to have played more than 1,000 games with the Bruins and managed to make his own mark even while playing in Bourque’s shadow on the blue line. He was the team’s plus/minus leader in 1993-94 and co-leader in 1998-99.

No. 33: Zdeno Chara

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.

    Beginning in 1984-85 and running through 1987-88, he saw action in 87 games with the parent club, pitching in 27 goals and 26 assists.

No. 37: Patrice Bergeron

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    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.

    As he stands right now on Boston’s all-time lists, Bergeron is tied with Keith Crowder for 18th with 258 assists, No. 24 with 401 points and tied with Wesley for No. 36 with 537 games-played.

    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

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    The winger was second only to Bourque in points and the team leader in goals with a 39-36-75 stat line in 1991-92.

    Ruzicka’s totals over three seasons with the Bruins were 66-66-132 over 166 games.

No. 39: Greg Johnston

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    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

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    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

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    Allison was the Bruins’ leading point-getter in both 1997-98 and 1998-99, his first two full seasons with the team. He reclaimed that title in 2000-01 and might have retained it for all four of his years in Boston if not for an injury-plagued 1999-2000.

No. 42: Bob Sweeney

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    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

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    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

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    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.

    He does have this on his colleagues: Seidenberg has played two full seasons with the Bruins in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and blocked the most opposing shots in both years.

    Honorable mention: Nick Boynton, Aaron Ward

No. 45: Mark Stuart

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    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

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    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

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    In both his first (1999-2000) and final (2002-03) year with the team, Grahame retained the best goals-against average and save percentage among Bruins goalies who played more than five games.

No. 48: Matt Hunwick

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    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

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    Juneau was the team’s second-leading scorer in 1992-93 and finished fourth on that chart in 1993-94 despite a late-season trade to the Capitals.

    Honorable mention: Rich Peverley

No. 50: Chris Taylor

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    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

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    Kovalenko placed sixth on the scoring chart during his lone season with the Bruins in 2000-01.

No. 52: Carl Corazzini

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    It was either Corazzini, who inserted two goals during a 12-game stint in 2003-04, or Zach Hamill, the former first-round draft choice who sprinkled four assists over 20 sparse ventures.

No. 53: Derek Morris

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    In competition with the likes of minor-league mainstays Brandon Smith and Jeremy Reich, Morris wins this slide for 22 assists and 25 points over 58 games during his stay for part of the 2009-10 season.

No. 54: Adam McQuaid

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    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

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    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

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    In 20 NHL games, all with the Bruins, Banks accrued four points and a plus-five rating.

No. 57: Antti Laaksonen

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    Laaksonen was a key cog on the Providence Bruins’ historic 1999 Calder Cup championship team and filled in as needed at the top level (12 points in 38 games) for two years before being nabbed by the expansion Minnesota Wild.

No. 58: Carter Camper

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    Competitor Kevin Dallman mustered all of one assist in 21 games. Camper, who tallied his first NHL goal during a three-game promotion last season, has ample opportunity to exceed those standards.

No. 59: Rich Brennan

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    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

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    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

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    Between his call-up in 2008-09 and his trade to Florida in 2009-10, Bitz played the virtual equivalent of a full season in Boston. In that time, he tallied an 8-8-16 line in 80 regular-season twirls and two points in five playoff outings.

No. 62: Milan Lucic

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    That’s right. For the first 10 games of his rookie campaign, Lucic wore a number more fit for a long-shot training camp participant.

    Shortly before the calendar morphed to November 2007, he converted to his more distinctive No. 17, but not before charging up a Gordie Howe hat trick in Los Angeles in his fourth career game.

No. 63: Brad Marchand

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    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

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    Fourth-liner Lane MacDermid could nudge him over at some point, but for now, the blueliner Kultanen’s 13 points in 102 games-played make him the best of the Spoked-B 64s.

No. 65: Brett Harkins

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    Harkins put in 44 appearances and pitched in an altogether irreproachable 18 points on a 1996-97 team that finished dead last in the NHL.

No. 67: Benoit Pouliot

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    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

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    The blueliner broke in with the Bruins in 2005-06 and stuck around for 91 games, inserting six goals and eight assists in that span. If nothing else, those are certainly bigger ripples than the uneventful one-game call-ups Mikko Lehtonen garnered in 2008-09 and 2009-10.

No. 70: Tim Thomas

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    Although his pleasant surprises while wearing No. 30 circa 2009-2011 were yet to come, Thomas became the first and still only Bruin to wear a 70 on his sweater when he played four games as a rookie in 2002-03.

No. 71: Jiri Slegr

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    Slegr, who finished his career with nine goals and 26 assists over 68 appearances in Boston, beats some fairly easy competition in Terry Virtue for this slide. Only one other Bruin has worn No. 71, but he gained more notoriety after he elevated those numerals by 20, so stay tuned.

No. 72: Peter Schaefer

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    Schaefer was a vital supplementary scorer during his lone season with the Bruins in 2007-08. His 26 points in 63 games helped the franchise to a long-awaited berth in the playoffs, where his four points helped to push a landmark series with the top-dog Canadiens to seven games.

No. 73: Michael Ryder

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    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

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    The Hall of Fame defenseman polished off his career with an 18-game stint in Boston in 2000-01. Time will tell if Max Sauve has any shot at supplanting Coffey as the franchise’s best-ever No. 74.

No. 75: Colton Orr

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    The lone regular-season occupant of a Bruins’ No. 75 jersey wore it for his first 21 NHL ventures.

No. 76: Dennis Bonvie

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    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

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    In a surprisingly competitive two-man tangle with half-year wonder Miroslav Satan, Kessel wins out on the grounds of his team-leading 36 goals in 2008-09 and his characteristic shootout proficiency.

No. 83: Pat Leahy

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    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

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    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

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    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.

No. 92: Michael Nylander

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    It’s either Nylander, who tallied 12 points over a 15-game stint in 2003-04, or Guillaume Lefebvre, who had a one-game call-up from Providence in 2009-10.

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