Terry O’Reilly, also known as “Bloody O’Reilly” definitely deserves a spot on the top 10 list. He was tough as nails, and he protected his teammates like no other.
When the Bruins retired his number and put his jersey up in the rafters in 2002, Ray Bourque said, “His hangs right next to mine, protecting me again. That’s awesome.”
The native of Niagara Falls, Ontario had some great feuds with other tough guys, including Tiger Williams, Clark Gilles, and Dave Schultz.
He is also known for his actions in the infamous post-game bench brawl between the Bruins and the Rangers on December 26, 1979.
A wild fan stole O’Reilly’s teammate's stick and hit him with it. Terry ripped down the glass and went up in the stands to tackle the wild fan. Terry ended up taking off the fan's shoe and hitting him with it. He wound up only getting an eight-game suspension for his actions.
Can you imagine what the suspension would be in today’s NHL?
A lot of you might also remember his name from the movie Happy Gilmore, starring Adam Sandler. In the movie, Terry O’Reilly is Happy’s favorite hockey player because of his tough and aggressive style of play.
O’Reilly could also score. In the 1977-78 season, he managed to get 90 points. I didn’t even think that was possible for a so-called enforcer. But the statistics show that he was definitely a tough guy.
In 891 NHL games, he got 2,095 minutes in penalties and 606 points. Terry dropped the gloves 198 times throughout his NHL career.
He was a great all-around player for the Boston Bruins and after he retired from hockey, he came back to coach the Bruins in the 1986-87 season. He took them to the Stanley Cup finals, but couldn’t beat the Edmonton Oilers. He also was an assistant coach for the New York Rangers for two seasons after the lockout.
O’Reilly was not only a great enforcer, but a great player and a great guy on and off the bench.
Note: This is part four of a ten part series.