Boston Bruins: Assembling Their All-Time All-America Team
Being the first NHL franchise based in the United States, the Boston Bruins played no small role in paving the road to the point where Hockey Weekend Across America is now an annual event in mid-February.
With the help of three following, lasting Original Six franchises in New York, Detroit and Chicago, the Bruins set a precedent for the sport’s appeal in the country. In addition, they densely emboldened the puck culture of New England, where grassroots, high-school and college programs have fostered revered histories and traditions of their own.
As one will find in the following slides, many of those communities and programs have given back to the region’s pioneering professional team through their alumni.
As USA Hockey celebrates the two components of its name, here is an invitation to the rink of dreams for those who bleed alternating and equal gushes of red, white and blue, and black and gold.
The following is a depth chart comprised of the best American players in Bruins history.
Unless otherwise indicated, all stats and information were found via the Internet Hockey Database.
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Left Wing, Ted Donato
The locally born and raised Harvard alum charged up three 20-goal seasons with his hometown team, including a leading 25 in 1996-97.
Center, Craig Janney
Hailing from Hartford and Boston College, Janney started his professional career with the Bruins in 1988 after sporting the star-spangled sweater at the Olympics. The prolific playmaker would charge up 198 assists in 262 appearances with the Spoked-Bs.
Right Wing, Bill Guerin
Rounding out an all-Beanpot, all-New England line with another BC product, Guerin led Boston with 41 goals during his only full season with the franchise, in 2001-02. He had come from Edmonton early the previous year and struck the mesh 28 times in his first 64 outings as a Bruin.
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Left Wing, Andy Brickley
After his college days at New Hampshire and before his second career as an NESN color analyst, the Melrose, Mass., native spent four seasons in the Bruins organization. He logged a 37-76-113 scoring transcript in 177 games played.
Center, Bobby Carpenter
Carpenter saw substantial action in only two seasons with Boston, one of which was limited to 60 games, but finished with 25 goals in both 1989-90 and 1991-92. Earlier, after coming from Los Angeles at midseason, he finished 1988-89 with a 14-point, 18-game ride to start his Spoked-B stint.
Right Wing, Brian Rolston
Rolston finished between third and fifth on Boston’s scoring chart in each of four full seasons between 2000-01 and 2003-04. Upon adding 12 assists and 15 points in an additional 21-game stint last season, he brought his Bruin totals to 104-147-251 in 359 games.
Left Wing, John Carter
A teammate of future Bruin Adam Oates on Rensselaer’s NCAA championship team in 1985, the Winchester, Mass., native returned home when he turned pro.
In 1989-90, he was a critical depth contributor to the Wales Conference playoff title, finishing second to Cam Neely with six postseason goals after a career-high 17 in the regular season.
Center, Tom Fergus
The Chicagoan started his professional career with four years in Boston, charging up 236 points in 289 ventures. His final year with the club in 1984-85 saw him join teammates Keith Crowder, Rick Middleton and Charlie Simmer in the 30-goal range and finish fourth in assists (43) and points (73).
Right Wing, Tommy Williams
The late Duluth, Minn., native broke into the NHL with the country’s longest-tenured franchise less than two years after helping the country to its first ice-hockey gold medal in the 1960 Olympics.
After whetting his blades with 12 points in 26 games to finish 1961-62, he made a sound first impression in his first full season in The Show at 23-20-43 in 69 games.
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Left Wing, Jay Miller
The University of New Hampshire graduate was hardly the most skilled winger, but he did have a Merlot-esque regular season in 1987-88, with seven goals and 12 assists. He added a career-high 304 penalty minutes and proceeded to dress for 12 playoff games as part of a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Center, Bob Sweeney
Another BC alum and another member of the 1988 and 1990 Stanley Cup runners-up. In both of those seasons, Sweeney charged up a respectable 22 goals and also led the 1990-91 team with 115 penalty minutes.
Right Wing, Steve Leach
Rounding out an all-Massachusetts and all-Hockey East line (he spent two years at UNH), Leach’s only two seasons in the 20- or 30-goal range were with the Bruins in 1991-92 and 1992-93.
By the time he was dealt to St. Louis in 1995-96, he had 159 points in 293 twirls.
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Milbury’s career rating of plus-173 is the highest among American blueliners in Bruins history and fourth among all franchise defensemen.
That is enough to balance out and accept the unsurpassed 1,552 penalty minutes he incurred, second only to Terry O'Reilly among all Boston skaters.
The Massachusetts native was rightly a fan favorite, for he used his toughness effectively to protect the netminders of his hometown team.
Of his 70 goals scored in six seasons with the Bruins, 31 were tallied on the power play, which has him fifth among defensemen of all nationalities. On the other side of the special-teams spectrum, he inserted three shorthanded strikes.
Another New Englander (and a Providence College product) who was, and still is, a generally stay-at-home rearguard and had some of his best years with the home franchise.
Since leaving Boston for Toronto, Pittsburgh, Montreal and now Nashville, Gill has yet to exceed the 18 assists and 22 points he charged up for the Bruins in 2001-02. Ditto the plus-21 rating from 2002-03 or even the plus-16 from the two sandwiching seasons.
Another dependable power-play point shot, Larson logged 15 man-advantage conversions as part of 77 points in 141 games over a stint of two-plus years with the Bruins. The Minnesotan’s late-season transfer to Boston from a perennially struggling Detroit team in 1985-86 also allowed him to start flaunting more efficiency on the home front.
In the twilight of his playing days, Ellett was among the players imported concomitantly with head coach Pat Burns to bring the Bruins out of the NHL’s basement in 1997. His two years with the team saw him play 136 regular-season and 14 postseason games and, despite missing 28 outings in 1998-99, finish second only to Don Sweeney with a plus-11 rating.
By 1993-94, his second year with Boston and final year in the NHL, Roberts was all but officially washed up.
But that was not before he came to the Bruins from their nemesis and two-time champion Pittsburgh in 1992-93 and tied Joe Juneau for fourth with a plus-23 rating.
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Starter, Tim Thomas
Two Vezina Trophies and a record-setting 2010-11 ride that added a Conn Smythe and a Stanley Cup to the trophy case of the Michigander and former Vermont Catamount. Thomas is the only American-born Bruins backstop on record with a career save percentage exceeding .900, with a .921 success rate.
Backup, Frank Brimsek
The “Mister Zero” moniker comes from a career 35 shutouts, coupled with a 2.58 goals-against average and a 230-144-70 record.
Brimsek, who hailed from Eveleth, Minn., is also one of only two goalies, along with Gerry Cheevers, to have backstopped two championship teams as a Bruin.
3rd String, John Grahame
The competition gets instantaneously slimmer upon reaching this position, but Grahame was not too shabby in his Boston career, which spanned portions of four seasons.
Although he had a losing record of 29-30-12, he charged up the third-best GAA among U.S.-born netminders in team history.
Blum’s first of three stints in Boston was his longest and most fulfilling, spanning 148 games between 1983-84 and 1985-86. His output is sufficient for the position of spare defenseman on this scroll.
One last former BC Eagle, Heinze was a consistent depth producer throughout the 1990s.
Phil “The Thrill” could fill in easily at the deep-right-wing position on one of this roster’s top three lines in the event of injury, illness or maddening slump.
As a rookie in 1977-78, Miller was one of 11 Boston skaters to break the 20-goal plateau. He would finish his Bruins career with 137 points in 263 games.
The pivot joined the Bruins late in 1992-93, immediately after his senior season with Michigan State concluded.
He would amass 31 goals and 51 points in his first full professional season and led Boston with 18 strikes in 1994-95.