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Boston Bruins: Top 13 Defensemen in Franchise History

Chris BlanchardContributor IIINovember 21, 2012

Boston Bruins: Top 13 Defensemen in Franchise History

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    Since their founding in 1924, the Boston Bruins have consistently boasted an outstanding defensive corps. For nearly a century, the Bruins have forged their big, bad reputation on the blue line. 

    An astonishing 16 hall of famers have held down the fort in Boston's defensive zone, and Bruins defenders have claimed a league high 14 James Norris Memorial Trophies. 

    The Bruins have retired the jersey numbers of four legendary defenseman, but many more are deserving of recognition for their tremendous achievements. 

    Lets take a look at some of the best Bruins defensemen of all time. 

13. Mike Milbury

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    Before becoming the Bruins head coach in 1989, Mike Milbury spent 12 seasons on the Boston blue line.

    After 754 career games, Milbury ranks ninth all-time in points among Bruins defensemen with 238.

    Far from the cleanest player in Bruins history, he amassed 1552 penalty minutes, the second most in franchise history. Only Terry O'Reilly spent more time in the sin bin.

    After retiring, Milbury lead the Bruins to two consecutive Adams division titles, a President's Trophy and a Stanley Cup Finals berth, before taking over the New York Islanders bench.

    His time in New York proved disastrous as he let future superstars Zdeno Chara and Roberto Luongo leave Long Island for next to nothing. 

12. Bill Quackenbush

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    After winning the 1949 Lady Byng Trophy with Detroit by avoiding the penalty box for an entire season, Bill Quackenbush was traded to Boston for Pete Babando, Lloyd Durham, Clare Martin and Jimmy Peters. 

    Over seven seasons in Boston, Quackenbush earned a trip to the All-Star game five times. The offensive-defenseman put up an impressive 155 points over that span. 

    Not exactly a big, bad Bruin, Quackenbush averaged just six-and-a-half penalty minutes per season. 

    After his retirement, Quackenbush coached hockey at Princeton University. 

    He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976. 

11. Glen Wesley

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    Glen Wesley played seven seasons in Boston, after being drafted third overall in 1987. 

    Wesley shined from the get-go in Boston. A 37-point campaign earned him a spot on the 1988 NHL All-Rookie Team. 

    Wesley's efforts helped the Bruins to two Eastern Conference Championships in his first three seasons.  

    Despite his relatively short stay in Boston, Wesley ranks fourth among defensemen in franchise history with 307 points. 

    In the summer of 1994, Wesley was traded to the Hartford Whalers for three first-round draft picks that became Kyle McLaren, Jonathan Aitken, and Sergei Samsonov. 

    He hoisted the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, and the Hurricanes later retired his No. 2. 

10. Dallas Smith

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    Dallas Smith spent 15 years with the Boston Bruins beginning in 1967. Smith trails only Ray Bourque and Don Sweeney in games played by a defenseman in franchise history, with 861. 

    Smith spent many of those games as Bobby Orr's defensive partner, and was a plus-minus machine. When the plus-minus stat was introduced for the 1967-68 season, Smith led the league with a plus-33 rating. 

    In 1970-71, Smith finished second in the league behind Orr, but his plus-94 rating still stands as the fourth best all-time. 

    Despite being a defensive-defenseman Smith scored 302 points, ranking fifth among Bruins defensemen.

    A five time All-Star, Smith hoisted the Stanley Cup twice as a member of the Bruins. 

9. Leo Boivin

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    Leo Boivin anchored the Boston Bruins defense from 1954 to 1966. Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Joe Klukay, Boivin posted 211 points in 12 seasons. 

    Boivin helped lead the Bruins to consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in 1957 and 1958, although both trips ended in crushing losses to the Montreal Canadiens

    The heavy-hitting defenseman served as the Bruins captain from 1963 to 1966. 

    Having played 1150 career games for five teams, Boivin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986. 

8. Fernie Flaman

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    Fernie Flaman wore the Spoked-B for 14 seasons during his two stints with the Boston Bruins. 

    Flaman established himself with Bruins in 1947, after several years as a minor leaguer. 

    In 1950, Flaman was traded to Toronto where he won his only Stanley Cup, before returning to Boston in 1954. 

    A superb traditional defenseman, Flaman played in five All-Star games. His sweater was adorned with the captain's C from 1955 until he retired in 1961. 

    He went on to coach the Northeastern University Huskies for 13 seasons, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990. 

7. Don Sweeney

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    Former Harvard University defenseman, Don Sweeney played 1052 games for the Bruins from 1988 to 2003. He ranks third among Bruins in games played. 

    Sweeney ranks among the Bruins' top 10 defenseman in goals (52), assists (210) and points (262). 

    Drafted 166th overall in 1984, he was a mainstay on Boston's back line for 15 years. 

    The well-rounded star failed to hoist the Stanley Cup as a player, though he reached the finals in 1990. 

    Sweeney's name has since been engraved on Lord Stanley's Hardware as the Bruins' Assistant GM, a role he has held since 2010. 

6. Lionel Hitchman

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    Lionel Hitchman spent 10 seasons on Boston's top defensive pairing after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators during the 1924-25 season. 

    Hitchman was blessed with the good fortune of being paired with two Hall of Famers in Boston, in Sprague Cleghorn and Eddie Shore. 

    Upon Cleghorn's retirement in 1928, Hitchman took over his role as Captain. Hitchman then lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup Championship in 1930. 

    Following his triumphant career, the legendary Hitchman's  No. 3 jersey was retired by the Bruins at the end of his final career game, making him the first athlete in North American sports history to have his jersey number retired. 

5. Brad Park

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    Brad Park was traded by the New York Rangers along with Jean Ratelle and Joe Zanussi to Boston for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais in November of 1975. 

    At the time, the trade seemed completely one-sided. Esposito averaged 137 points per season in the five years preceding the trade. Park, on the other hand, looked to be trending downwards. 

    The deal proved to be a masterpiece for the Bruins' front office. Esposito never scored 100 points in a season with New York, while Park spent eight superb seasons in Boston. 

    Park posted 417 points with the Bruins, ranking him third among defensemen in franchise history. His plus-229 rating is the eight best in Bruins history. 

    Park played in four NHL all-star games as Bruin and was a runner-up for the Norris Trophy twice. 

    He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. 

4. Zdeno Chara

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    Zdeno Chara signed with the Boston Bruins on July 1, 2006 and was immediately named Captain. 

    Chara has presided over a spectacular renaissance of Bruins hockey during his term as captain. 

    He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 2009, and was a runner-up for the award in both 2010 and 2011. He has also participated in the NHL All-Star game five times in the last six seasons.

    At 6'9" Chara is the one of the NHL's largest players and holds the all-time record for hardest slap shot at 108.8 mph. He has been a spectacular all-around defenseman, consistently producing solid point totals and excellent plus-minus ratings. 

    Chara led the league in 2010-11 with a plus-33 rating. He matched that rating last season, but was supplanted as the league leader by teammate Patrice Bergeron. 

    The Slovakian defenseman's greatest achievement came in 2011, when he led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup Championship since 1972. 

3. Eddie Shore

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    Eddie Shore was the greatest defenseman of his era, playing 14 seasons in Boston. 

    He won the Hart Trophy four times, the most of any defenseman and was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team seven times. 

    Known for his tough-as-nails defensive play, Shore also made a strong offensive contribution and ranks sixth among blueliners in franchise history with 279 points. 

    Shore's name is engraved on the Stanley Cup twice, for championships in 1929 and 1939. 

    One of the all-time greats, Shore was the second Bruin to have his number retired, after Lionel Hitchman. 

    He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1947. 

2. Ray Bourque

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    Ray Bourque played more games for the Bruins than any player in history during his 21 seasons in Boston. 

    As Boston's longest tenured captain, he wore the C from 1988 until departing for Colorado in 2000. 

    Bourque holds the NHL career records for most goals (410), assists (1159), and points (1569) by a defenseman. 

    He is fourth all-time in assists, and third in plus-minus. 

    He was named to the NHL's first or second All-Star team 19 times, and was awarded the Norris Trophy five times. 

    Though he failed to lead Boston to a Stanley Cup, he brought the famed trophy back to the city after winning it with the Avalanche in 2001. 

    Bourque's No. 77 was retired in 2001, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. 

    His son Chris Bourque was acquired by the Bruins via trade in the summer of 2012. 

1. Bobby Orr

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    Widely regarded as the greatest defenseman of all-time, Bobby Orr single-handedly changed the game of hockey. 

    In 10 seasons with the Bruins, he completely rewrote the record books. 

    From 1968-75, Orr won eight consecutive Norris Trophies as the NHL's best defenseman. During that span he also won three Hart trophies, as NHL MVP, two Art Ross trophies, for leading the league in points. 

    He led the league in plus-minus six times and claimed the single season record with a plus-124 rating in 1970-71. 

    He also holds the single season records for assists (102) and points (139) by a defenseman. 

    He led the Bruins to Stanley Cup Championships in 1970 and 1972, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy both times. 

    He has been forever immortalized for his cup-winning overtime goal against the St. Louis Blue's in 1970. His incredible flight through the air after putting the puck home has become perhaps the most iconic sports image of all-time. 

    Despite an injury shortened career, Orr proved to be among the greatest talents in the history of the game. His famous No. 4 jersey was retired in 1979, and he entered the Hall of Fame the same year. 

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