Ranking the 5 Greatest Captains in Boston Bruins History

Chris Blanchard@@BlanchardNHLContributor IIISeptember 12, 2013

Ranking the 5 Greatest Captains in Boston Bruins History

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    For the Boston Bruins, the captain's "C" means almost as much as the spoked-B. 

    Eight Bruins captains are in the Hall of Fame, and six have had their number retired. The historic patch is one of hockey's most prestigious honors. 

    Nineteen men have held the title of captain in Boston, each providing admirable service. However, some men are simply born to wear the C, and those men are honored in this list.

    Here are the Boston Bruins' five greatest captains: 

5. Lionel Hitchman

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    Lionel Hitchman became the Bruins' second captain upon the retirement of Hall of Famer Sprague Cleghorn in 1928.

    Paired with the legendary Eddie Shore on the Bruins blue line, Hitchman led the club to its first Stanley Cup Championship in 1929.

    When Hitchman came to the end of his 10 years in Boston, the Bruins honored his leadership and performance by making him the first athlete in North American sports history to have his number retired. 

    Hitchman set the standard that all other Bruins captains have hoped to match. 

4. Dit Clapper

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    Aubrey "Dit" Clapper did just about everything for the Bruins.

    As part of the famed "Dynamite Line" along with Cooney Weiland and Dutch Gainor, Clapper helped make the Bruins an offensive juggernaut. Later in his career, he became an All-Star defenseman. 

    He served as captain from 1932 to 1947. He ceded the captaincy to Weiland for the 1938-39 season. The Bruins won their second Stanley Cup that year. 

    In 1941, Clapper matched his linemate's feat, leading the Bruins to a four-game finals sweep of the Detroit Red Wings

    He served as player-coach in addition to his captain's duties in the mid-40s, and at the end of his his 20-year career, the Bruins retired his No. 5. 

    Clapper was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947 with a spectacular resume, including three career championships. 

3. Zdeno Chara

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    Zdeno Chara was immediately named captain upon signing with the Bruins in the summer of 2006. 

    The 6'9" defenseman instantly changed the tone in Boston, helping the club return to prominence. 

    Chara has led the Bruins to the postseason in each of the last six seasons, and he was the engine behind the team's 2011 Stanley Cup championship. 

    He won the Norris Trophy in 2009, and his consistent excellence has helped the Bruins become one of the NHL's elite franchises for the first time since the early 1970s.

    The 36-year-old has a few years left in Boston, and he may yet get his hands on another Cup. When he walks away, he can be assured that his No. 33 will float to the rafters. A Hall of Fame nod also seems inevitable. 

2. Johnny Bucyk

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    Johnny "Chief" Bucyk wore the C over two stints between 1966 and 1977. 

    Playing alongside the likes of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr, Bucyk enjoyed tremendous success with the Bruins. 

    Though the team opted to split its captaincy in the early '70s, Bucyk was presented the Stanley Cup on two occasions as the team's most senior alternate captain. 

    Bucyk played 21 seasons with the Bruins, walking away from the game as the highest-scoring left winger in history. His total of 1,369 points has since been surpassed by Luc Robitaille, but his impact in Boston will never be forgotten.

    Bucyk's No. 9 was retired in 1980, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame the following year. 

1. Ray Bourque

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    No man has embodied the captaincy in Boston like Raymond Bourque. The C adorned Bourque's jersey from 1985 to 2000, making him the longest-tenured captain in Bruins history. 

    Bourque won the Norris Trophy five times in that span, racking up more points than any defenseman in NHL history. 

    He was the face of the Bruins for two decades. However, he failed to win the Stanley Cup in Boston. 

    In 2000, the Bruins showed their immense respect for Bourque by trading him to the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he would finally hoist the trophy that eluded him for more than 20 years. 

    Bourque, fittingly, brought the Cup to Boston for an emotional rally. 

    The quintessential Bruin was never blessed with the same kind of surrounding talent as the others on this list, but he still managed to leave an unmatched impact. 

    Bourque's No. 77 is the most recent to be retired in Boston, and the legendary defenseman was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004.