Boston Bruins: Assembling the Franchise's Best All-Time Roster

Chris BlanchardContributor IIINovember 28, 2012

Boston Bruins: Assembling the Franchise's Best All-Time Roster

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    Founded in 1924, the Boston Bruins have amassed a rich history full of colorful characters and breathtaking athletes. 

    47 Hall-of-Famers have worn a Bruins sweater, and the franchise has hoisted the Stanley Cup six times. 

    Bruins stars have earned an impressive total of 13 Hart Trophies, eight Art Ross Trophies, nine Vezina Trophies, and 14 Norris Trophies. 

    With dozens of legendary players living long in the memories of Bruins fans, many superstars inevitably fail to meet the rigorous criteria for the all-time team. 

    The following line-up is comprised exclusively of the best of the best in Bruins history:

Forward Line 1

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    Center - Phil Esposito

    One of the NHL's all-time great scorers, Esposito led the league in points five times as a Bruin. The two-time Hart Trophy winner twice hoisted the Stanley Cup in the early 1970's. In franchise history, he ranks third in points (1012), second in goals (459), and first in points-per-game (1.62). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Bruins retired his number (7) the same year. 

    Left Wing - John "Chief" Bucyk

    John Bucyk captained the Bruins for five of his 21 seasons in Boston. He is the franchise's all-time leading goal-scorer (545) and ranks second in assists (794), points (1339) and games played (1436). A two-time champion, Bucyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981. His number (9) was retired by the Bruins the previous year. 

    Right Wing - Cam Neely

    Despite a career curtailed by injuries, Cam Neely managed to become a Boston legend with his high-scoring and hard-hitting style. He ranks fifth among goal scorers in franchise history with 344, averaging .66 goals-per-game. Neely spent 10 years playing in Boston. His number (8) was retired in 2004 and he entered the Hall of Fame in 2005. He became the President of the Boston Bruins in 2010 and finally hoisted the Stanley Cup the following spring. 


Forward Line 2

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    Center - Adam Oates

    Legendary playmaker Adam Oates spent five seasons in Boston during the 1990's. Though his tenure with the franchise was brief, he made the most of his time. In the 1992-93 season he posted 142 points, the second highest single-season total in Bruins history. His 1.36 points-per-game average is the third highest of any skater in Bruins history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of the 2012 class. 

    Left Wing - Wayne Cashman

    Wayne Cashman is one of just four players to play more than 1000 games for the Boston Bruins. With a career that spanned from 1964 to 1983, Cashman ranks sixth in franchise history in points (793), fifth in assists (516) and seventh in goals (277). He wore the Captain's "C" in Boston from 1978 to 1983, and he was an integral part of both Stanley Cup-winning teams in the early 1970's. 

    Right Wing - Rick Middleton

    Rick Middleton was Boston's most prominent offensive threat of the late '70's and early '80's. In franchise history he ranks third in goals (402), sixth in assists (496), fourth in points (898) and sixth in games played (881). His 25 shorthanded goals are the most scored in Bruins history. He won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1982 and served as co-captain along with Ray Bourque from 1985 to 1988. 


Forward Line 3

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    Center - Patrice Bergeron

    The 27-year-old Patrice Bergeron has already played eight seasons in Boston. Since joining the team as a teenager in 2003, Bergeron has become one of the best all-around players in the National Hockey League. In 2011-12 he led the league in plus-minus and was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward. He helped lead Boston to the Stanley Cup in 2011, scoring two goals in the decisive game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Having served as an Alternate Captain for several seasons, Bergeron could someday succeed Zdeno Chara as Captain. 

    Left Wing - Aubrey "Dit" Clapper

    Dit Clapper won the Stanely Cup in 1929, 1939, and 1941 during his 20 year career in Boston. A member of the famed "Dynamite Line" with Cooney Weiland and Dutch Gainor, he served as Captain from 1932 to 1938 and again from 1939 to 1946. He served as Boston's head coach for four seasons, including the last two seasons of his playing career. In 1947 the Bruins retired his number (5) and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

    Right Wing - Terry O'Reilly

    The quintessential Big Bad Bruin, Terry O'Reilly is the franchise leader in career penalty minutes with 2095. Besides his rough and tumble style, O'Reilly was an outstanding forward. He ranks eighth in franchise history in points (606) and seventh in assists (402). He captained the Bruins from 1983 to 1985 before coaching the Bruins to three consecutive playoff appearances from 1986 to 1989. His number (24) was retired in 2002. 


Forward Line 4

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    Center - Milt Schmidt

    Milt Schmidt was one of the faces of the franchise from 1936 to 1955. He led the league in points in 1940 with 52 and won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1951. Schmidt captained the Bruins from 1950 to '54. Centering the famous "Kraut Line" between Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, he led Boston to the Stanley Cup in 1939 and 1941. Schmidt later served as the Bruins head coach and general manager. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1961 and his number (15) was retired in 1980. 

    Left Wing - Woody Dumart

    Woody Dumart proved to be one of Boston's greatest wingers playing alongside Schmidt. He ranks fourth among Bruins left wingers in scoring and games played. Dumart finished his career with 429 points in 772 games and took part in the NHL's first All-Star Game in 1947. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992. 

    Right Wing - Ken Hodge

    Ken Hodge spent nine seasons in Boston from 1967 to 1976. His 289 goals rank sixth in franchise history, and he sits seventh in team history in points (674), plus-minus (plus-265) and power-play goals (79). He is one of just nine Bruins to surpass the 100 point mark in at least one season, and he skated with the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972.  


Defensive Pair 1

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    Bobby Orr - 

    Often considered the greatest defenseman of all time, Bobby Orr shattered his fair share of records. He ranks first in franchise history in plus-minus with an absurd plus-589 rating and second in points-per-game with 1.41. He holds the NHL single-season records for points by a defenseman (139) and plus-minus (plus-124). During his injury-shortened career, Orr won eight Norris Trophies, two Art Ross Trophies and three consecutive Hart Trophies. He also claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy twice as MVP of the playoffs, leading Boston to the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. His legendary number (4) was retired in 1979, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the same year. 

    Ray Bourque - 

    Ray Bourque played more games in a Bruins sweater than anyone else. In his 1518 games for Boston, he mustered a franchise-leading 1506 points. He is also the franchise leader in assists and power play goals. He ranks first all-time in career points amongst NHL defensemen and he was honored with the Norris Trophy as the league's top blue-liner five times. He was named to the NHL's First or Second All-Star team 19 times in his 21 year career. He still stands as Boston's longest tenured Captain, wearing the "C" from 1988 to 2000. His number (77) was retired in 2001 and he entered the Hall of Fame in 2004. 


Defensive Pair 2

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    Zdeno Chara - 

    Zdeno Chara was immediately named Captain upon signing with Boston in the summer of 2006. The 6'9" monster has spurred Boston's recent rejuvenation, and he has participated in the All-Star Game five times in his six Bruins seasons. He owns the world record for fastest slap shot with a 108.8 mph blast. He won the Norris Trophy in 2009 and was a finalist for the award in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he led the National Hockey League in plus-minus with plus-33. That same season, he led Boston to its first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years. The 35-year-old is far from finished and has plenty of time to fill out his already superb resume. 

    Eddie Shore -

    Arguably the greatest defenseman of his era, Eddie Shore won the Hart Trophy four times in the 1930s. He starred on Boston's first two championship squads in 1929 and 1939. The notoriously physical Shore ranks sixth in franchise history with 1038 penalty minutes. He also ranks sixth in franchise history in points by a defenseman with 279. In 1947, Shore's number (2) was retired and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Defensive Pair 3

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    Brad Park - 

    Acquired in the trade that sent Phil Esposito to the New York Rangers, Park spent six sparkling seasons on the Boston blue-line. Among defensemen in franchise history, he trails only Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr with 417 career points. He was a Norris Trophy runner-up and First Team All-Star in both 1976 and 1978. Park became a Hall of Famer in 1988. 

    Lionel Hitchman - 

    Lionel Hitchman spent 10 seasons in Boston beginning in 1925. Upon the retirement of Hall of Famer Sprague Cleghorn, Hitchman was named Captain in 1928. Paired on defense with Eddie Shore, Hitchman led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 1929. Hitchman retired in February of 1934 and became the first player in North American sports history to have his jersey number retired. His number (3) was the first of 11 jerseys to be retired by the franchise. 

Goaltenders

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    Frank "Mister Zero" Brimsek - 

    Frank Brimsek wasted no time establishing himself in Boston. In 1938-39 he won the Vezina Trophy and the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. The rookie goaltender helped the Bruins all the way to their second Stanley Cup Championship. He won the Cup again in 1941 and claimed his second Vezina Trophy in 1942. He ranks second among goalies in franchise history in minutes (27010), wins (230), and shutouts (35). Brimsek entered the Hall of Fame in 1966. 

    Cecil "Tiny" Thompson - 

    Tiny Thompson was the Bruins first elite goaltender. He backstopped the team to their first title in 1929, then went on to win four Vezina Trophies in the 1930s. Thompson ranks first among goalies in franchise history in minutes played (28948), wins (252) and shutouts (74). He has a career goals-against average under 2.00 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959. 

Reserves

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    Center - Bill Cowley

    Bill Cowley won the NHL scoring title and led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 1940-41. For his efforts he was awarded the Hart Trophy, which he won again in 1943. Cowley had 536 points in just 508 games with the Bruins.

    Winger - Don Marcotte

    Don Marcotte ranks 10th among Bruins with 230 goals and contributed to two Stanley Cup Championships. 

    Defenseman - Don Sweeney

    Don Sweeney trails only Ray Bourque and John Bucyk in games played for the Bruins. He ranks eighth among Boston defensemen with 262 points. 

    Goaltender - Tim Thomas 

    Late bloomer Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy in 2009 and 2011. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy after leading the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup. 

Prospects

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    Tyler Seguin - 

    Drafted second overall in 2010, Tyler Seguin led the Bruins in goals (29) and points (67) in just his second season. The 20-year-old forward is bursting with potential and could someday become a Bruins legend. 

    Tuukka Rask - 

    Tuukka Rask led the NHL in save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (1.97) as a rookie in 2009-10. With Tim Thomas out of the picture he has reclaimed the starting role. The sky is the limit for the 25-year-old netminder.

    Brad Marchand - 

    Brad Marchand burst onto the scene as a rookie with 21 goals 2010-11. He also scored twice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals that season, instantly carving himself a space in Bruins lore. He finished second on the team in goal-scoring (28) in 2011-12 and should only improve. 

    Milan Lucic - 

    Milan Lucic joined the Bruins as an 18-year-old in 2007. Despite a disappointing 2011-12 campaign the 24-year-old bruiser has 212 points in 359 career games. If Lucic hangs around long enough he has the talent to challenge the all-time greats. 

Complete Lineup

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    Forward Lines:

    Line:  Left Wing: Center: Right Wing:
    Line 1: John Bucyk Phil Esposito Cam Neely
    Line 2: Wayne Cashman Adam Oates Rick Middleton
    Line 3: Dit Clapper Patrice Bergeron Terry O'Reilly
    Line 4: Woody Dumart Milt Schmidt Ken Hodge

    Defensive Pairs:

    Pair 1: Bobby Orr Ray Bourque
    Pair 2: Eddie Shore Zdeno Chara
    Pair 3: Lionel Hitchman Brad Park

    Goaltender:

    Starter: Frank Brimsek

    Backup: Tiny Thompson

    Captains:

    Captain: Ray Bourque

    Alterante: John Bucyk

    Alternate: Milt Schmidt