I am not old enough to remember the TV Western “Bonanza” starring Lorne Greene, but I have fond memories of the Bruins “Bonanza” line.
One of the most prolific scoring lines in Boston Bruins history consisted of Adam Oates (Adam), Joe Juneau (Little Joe) and Dmitri Kvartalnov (Hoss).
The ’92-’93 NHL season was very special in Boston (the regular season, anyways).
The team just came off a Wales Conference sweep at the hands of the Mario led Pittsburgh Penguins. They finished second in the Adams Division and had playoff series victories over Buffalo and Montreal.
A successful season?
Yes and No.
The Wales Conference Finals is not a Stanley Cup championship.
They needed to pick up the offensive slack in the ’92-’93 season.
Cam Neely was recovering from a knee injury afflicted by goon Ulf Samuelsson during the playoffs. He was only able to play 13 games due to injury. That left a major void in the Bruins offensive attack.
Center Adam Oates needed a winger to feed, but he also needed to put the puck in the net.
Who would step in and step up?
The Bruins drafted winger, Joe Juneau 81st overall in the '88 draft out of RPI. Juneau went on to play for the 1992 Canadian Olympic team. After the conclusion of the Olympics, Juneau joined the Bruins at the tail end of the ’91-’92 season.
Juneau never spent a day in the minors and he didn’t miss a beat in the NHL. He scored 5 goals and 14 assists in 19 games. He also had a strong post-season by adding 12 points in 15 playoff games.
The future was bright for the young winger from Quebec. Juneau would be put on the top line with Cam Neely and Adam Oates to open the season.
Neely was evidently not himself. He was hampered by effects of the knee on knee hit. His body was not going to hold up for the long haul.
Who would take his place on the top line with Oates and Juneau?
Russian sniper, Dmitri Kvartalnov was taken with 16th overall pick in the 1992 draft. Kvartalnov was not your typical rookie. He had already played hockey for 10 years in Russia and was 26 years old.
Kvartalnov was playing for the IHL’s San Diego Gulls where he scored 60 goals and 118 points in 77 games. He seemed like the perfect solution to off set the absence of Cam Neely.
The newly formed “Bonanza” line paid instant dividends.
Dmitri “Hoss” Kvartalnov scored a point in his first 14 games in the NHL. He had 12 goals and 10 assists from October 8, 1992 to November 12, 1992. This streak stood until 2007 when it was broken by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
The line just meshed. Oates and Juneau were masters of the pass. Kvartalnov was the shifty sniper. They decimated opposing goaltenders. They scored 107 of the team’s 332 goals for the season. Nearly one third!
The numbers for the “Bonanza” line were eye popping.
Adam Oates posted the best numbers in his 19 year career. He scored 45 goals and 97 assists for 142 points for third overall in scoring behind “Super” Mario Lemieux and Pat LaFontaine. Pretty incredible numbers for a guy who used to feed, the “Golden” Brett (Hull) in Saint Louis.
Joe “Little Joe” Juneau also had a monster season. Juneau contributed with 32 goals and 70 assists. The 70 helpers is a NHL record for a left winger which still stands today. Juneau was also named to the All Rookie team.
Dmitri “Hoss” Kvartalnov was not going to be outdone by his line mates. In his first season in the NHL, Kvartalnov scored 30 goals and 42 assists for 72 points. He went above and beyond anyone’s expectations in his rookie campaign.
Boston would go on to win their last 8 games to post a record of 51-26-7. They would win the Adams Division by only 5 points over the Quebec Nordiques. The Bruins 109 points were second only to the defending Stanley Cup Champs, the Pittsburgh Penguins (119 pts.).
Going into the playoffs, anticipation was high in the Hub of Hockey. All Bruins fans (myself included) felt this would be year that they would end their 22 year Stanley Cup drought. However, their outstanding season would be for naught.
Boston was swept by the Buffalo Sabres in the Adams Division Finals. The team lost 3 out of 4 games in overtime. The puck did not bounce their way in the post season.
The “Bonanza” line did produce in the playoffs but it wasn’t enough. It was just another disappointing season for the Bruins and their fans.
The Bruins haven’t had a dominate and balanced scoring line since. The game is different now and scoring is spread throughout the roster. I was just happy I got to witness these ice artists at work.
The “Bonanza” line would be short lived.
Joe Juneau was traded to Washington during the ’93-’94 season for Al Iafrate. He would go on to play 13 seasons recording 156 goals and 416 assists in 828 games.
Dmitri Kvartalnov flashed and burned out like a comet. After his highly successful rookie season, “Hoss” would only play 39 games in the ’93-’94 season recording only 17 points. Kvartalnov would never play in the NHL again.
Oates was traded to Washington during ’96-’97 after 5 ½ productive seasons in Boston. Adam Oates retired after the 2003-2004 season. He scored 341 goals and 1079 assists for 1420 total points. He was better than a point per game for his career. Oates is a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Just like the Western, the “Bonanza” line, rode off into the sunset, not to be seen again.