Boston Bruins: The 11 Biggest and Baddest Players in Team History
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The Philadelphia Flyers come to mind, but the Bruins had been playing with their take-no-prisoners style for nearly five decades before the great expansion of 1967 that brought the Flyers to the NHL.
The Bruins have had their share of all-time great players. Bobby Orr is No. 1 or 2 on the NHL's all-time list—depending on whether you favor him or Wayne Gretzky—and he is followed by Ray Bourque and Johnny Bucyk.
But the Bruins' image is that of players who ask for no quarter and give none. Orr, by the way, could handle himself with his fists as well as anyone if he saw fit.
Players who were willing to fight and take an elbow in order to make a play have been the standard for the Black and Gold for decades.
The Bruins' full-throated fans have always supported players who were willing to spill blood for the benefit of their team
Here's our list of the 11 biggest and baddest Bruins of all time.
Eddie Shore was the first of the Bruins' legendary defensemen.
He was a brilliant player and a great skater for his era and perhaps the toughest player who ever lived. His ability to endure pain and the extraordinary lengths he would go to compete have made him an NHL legend.
Shore played with the Bruins from 1926 through 1940 and he exceeded the 100-minute mark in penalties in five of his first seven seasons, even though those seasons were 48 games or less.
When Shore first joined the Bruins, Bruins coach Art Ross had tough guy Billy Coutu test Shore at a practice session. According to Boston reporter Clark Booth's "Boston Bruins: Celebrating 75 Years" (Tehabi Books), by the time Coutu got done pummeling Shore, the side of his face was drenched in blood and his ear was nearly severed.
At the hospital, Shore was told the ear would have to be amputated. Shore wouldn't go along with it and found one surgeon who sewed his ear back on his head.
Shore refused to take anesthesia for the procedure and held a mirror so he could see what the doctor was doing.
On the ice, Shore was known for inflicting punishment. He did it with his fists, elbows and his stick. He was not above taking every chance to deliver a cheap shot that he could. He fractured the skull and ended the hockey career of Toronto star "Ace" Bailey in one of his most vicious displays.
He was as big a name in hockey as the sport had during the late 1920s and early '30s. In some circles, he was compared to Babe Ruth in baseball for his fame and notoriety.
However, a more apt comparison would have been with baseball's Ty Cobb, because Shore was so unpopular with his fellow players.
While Shore is not known for his racist tendencies as Cobb was, both athletes conducted themselves with viciousness and effectiveness rarely seen in their respective sports.
Terry O'Reilly came up to the Bruins during the 1971-72 season and got to see Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito lead the Bruins to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
He barely played that season, but he learned what it was like to play like a Bruin.
Few players ever got the lesson as well as O'Reilly.
O'Reilly did not have 10 percent of the physical talent that Orr had, but he is probably loved nearly as much. O'Reilly left it all on the ice every night.
Despite a dearth of skating talent, O'Reilly scored 20 or more goals four times and was never afraid to go to the net. If he had to take two elbows in order to plant himself in front of the opposing goalie, he would do so willingly
"Taz" (short for Tasmanian Devil) is the Bruins all-time leader in fights. He had 154 bouts in his career, according to HockeyFights.com.
John Wensink was one of the top pugilists from the Lunch Pail A.C. Boston Bruins team that came directly after the Big, Bad Bruins Era ended.
Under the leadership of head coach Don Cherry, the Bruins swaggered around the league and left bodies in their wake.
One of the keys to the team was the willingness of Cherry's players to mix it up. They had plenty of them and Wensink was the team's heavyweight champion. He was always willing to take on the biggest and baddest member of the opposition and did so with a nasty smile.
Wensink was thought of as a goon outside of Boston, but he scored 28 goals during the 1978-79 season.
When it came to goal-scoring dominance and a willingness to fight, perhaps no player in Bruins history combined those two aspects better than Cam Neely.
While he sits in the Bruins executive box during games now, he excelled in all aspects of the game during his 10 years with the Bruins after he was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks.
Neely exceeded the 50-goal mark three times during his Bruins career that ended in 1995-96. He was impossible to move around the net, but he was no garbage man. He had a vicious wrist shot, a powerful slap shot and the talent to deke opposing goalies out of position.
Few players ever got the best of Patrick Roy, but Neely was able to beat the Montreal goalie with many memorable goals, including a playoff blast in 1991 from just past center ice in the seventh game of a Boston series triumph (1:50 mark).
In the fine tradition of Terry O'Reilly, Stan Jonathan and John Wensink, Thornton is the standard bearer when it comes to the current generation of Bruins. He is always willing to mix it up for the good of the team.
Thornton will never back down, and if the opponent has a tough guy who is bigger and stronger, Thornton is more than happy to take him on.
Thornton handled his business after Matt Cooke blindsided Marc Savard and sent him off the ice on a stretcher as a result of a brutal 2010 elbow to the head. In Pittsburgh's next visit to Boston, Thornton quickly dispatched Cooke with a quick beating that ended when Cooke dove to the ice in order to avoid taking more punishment.
Thornton has had 84 fights in his Bruins career, according to HockeyFights.com.
The Bruins' standard bearer for combining goal-scoring talent and the ability to mix it up during the 1980s and '90s was Cam Neely.
Milan Lucic fills that role for the current Bruins.
Lucic is not a 50-goal scorer, but he scored 30 goals in 2010-11 and 26 goals last year. Lucic could reach the 40-goal mark with continued development.
He is also a nasty fighter with a power left-handed attack. He has given several beatdowns to Mike Komisarek and once challenged the entire Montreal bench. He is beloved in Boston, but he is no favorite when the Bruins go on the road.
During the Bruins' Orr-Esposito heyday, the team's most explosive line included Esposito, Ken Hodge on right wing and Wayne Cashman on left wing.
Cashman's job was two-fold. He was a skilled player who could take passes from Esposito, Hodge or Bobby Orr and put the puck in the net. He could also make plays for his teammates. Cashman had 277 goals and 793 points during his career.
However, he was a policeman who would not let any harm come to his teammates. Cashman had 48 fights in his Bruins career, according to HockeyFights.com. In the video above, he punished Philadelphia's noted bully Dave Schultz with his effective left hook.
It's safe to say there have been few players who have ever cast a shadow in the NHL like Stan Jonathan.
Jonathan was a willing fighter with a sensationally fast pair of hands that he used to tattoo opponents regularly. Jonathan was a small man—5'8" and 175 pounds—but he regularly took on bigger opponents and issued memorable beatings.
In the video above, Jonathan took on the towering Pierre Bouchard of the Canadiens during a 1978 playoff game and turned him into a bloody pulp. Bouchard had been Montreal's tough guy, but Jonathan dispatched him with ease.
Even though he did not have great skills, Jonathan scored 20 or more goals twice in his Bruins career.
Jonathan had 62 fights during his Bruins career and he made up in fighting skill what he lacked in size. Despite his lack of height, Jonathan had a gigantic heart and his exploits are still discussed by Bruins fans and former head coach Don Cherry.
When it comes to pure scrapping ability and the willingness to engage, Jay Miller's name has to be near the top of the list.
The Boston native played his first three seasons with the Bruins and he loved to throw punches and didn't seem to mind taking them. He had 178 penalty minutes in his 1985-86 rookie season, followed that with 208 minutes the following year before his 304-minute masterpiece in his third season.
Miller was there to administer justice and justice only. He scored a grand total of 11 goals with the Bruins.
Zdeno Chara is the captain of the Bruins and he has maintained the highest Boston standards during his run with the team.
The biggest player in the history of the league, Chara may be the all-time best in two categories. He has the hardest shot of any player and he proves that every season during the All-Star festivities.
He also may be the most dominant fighter. When Chara wants to use his fists, it's doubtful whether any player could stand up to his fistic attack. His surgical beating of former Chicago Blackhawks goon David Koci (above) demonstrates what happens when Chara is inclined to use his fists.
Chara is a brilliant body checker, can carry the puck out of the zone and is the Bruins' best defenseman.
He doesn't fight often, but when he does it's almost always a mismatch.
The Bruins have been big and bad for decades.
Perhaps they were at their most cantankerous and confrontational during the late 1960s.
After years of finishing near the bottom of the NHL, the Bruins brought up a young star named Bobby Orr who would lead them out of the wilderness.
Orr could handle himself in all areas of the game, but the Bruins did not want anyone going near him and defenseman Teddy Green would go to the attack any time he sensed Orr or one of the Bruins' more skilled players were being targeted.
Green was nicknamed Terrible Teddy Green and he had 30 fights in his Bruins career.
He is perhaps best known for the vicious stick-swinging brawl he engaged in with Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues in a 1969 preseason game. The incident nearly killed Green—he had multiple skull fractures—but he would return for the 1970-71 season and he continued to pound opponents with his fists once he came back.