All Time Bruins: Raymond Bourque

Joe GillCorrespondent IINovember 15, 2009

Following in the skates of Bruins legend Bobby Orr, Raymond Jean Bourque was a stellar blue liner with offensive instincts. He was the face of the Boston Bruins for 21 seasons before being traded to Colorado where he became a Stanley Cup champion. Though he wasn't officially crowned champion until 2001, all Bruins fans knew since his rookie year in 1979 that he had the heart of a champion.

Raymond Bourque was drafted in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1979 NHL draft. Boston acquired the draft pick in a trade with Los Angeles for goaltender Ron Grahame. Being born in Quebec and a fan of the Montreal Canadiens as a youngster, Bourque was now going to lace up his skates for their arch nemesis, the Boston Bruins.

Bourque made an instant impact in his rookie season. He scored in his first game as a Boston Bruin. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and set the all time record for scoring by a first year defenseman with 65 points.

Bourque scored at least 55 points a season through 1985 with his best being 96 points in 1983-1984. The Bruins chose Bourque as a co-captain with teammate Rick Middleton in 1985. Upon Middleton’s retirement in 1988, Bourque became the sole captain of the club. His tenure as captain (1988-2000) with one club was a NHL record before being broken by Detroit’s Steve Yzerman.

Bourque wore #7 since his rookie season of 1979. However, in a surprise move during a 1987 ceremony for Bruins great Phil Esposito, Bourque removed his number #7 jersey to showcase his new number, #77. Bourque made a very respectful and unselfish gesture for one Boston’s great players. His new number, #77, would also become synonymous with hockey greatness.

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In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Bourque was consistently one of best players in the NHL. He was selected to 17 All-Star games, the most memorable being the 1996 All Star game played on his home rink in Boston. Bourque broke a 4-4 tie at 19:22 of the third period to win the game for the Eastern Conference and capture the game’s MVP award.

Raymond Bourque was also recognized for his superb play as a NHL defenseman. He won the Norris Trophy five times which is the third most in league history. Only former Bruins Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey have won the award more.

The Boston Bruins reached the 1988 and 1990 Stanley Cup Finals versus Edmonton, but fell short both times. Boston never got close again and Raymond Bourque’s dreams of being a Stanley Cup champion were fleeting.

Ray Bourque requested a trade to have an opportunity to win a championship before his career came to a close. In 2000, Bruins GM Harry Sinden granted Bourque his wish, and the long time captain of the Boston Bruins was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado fell short in the 2000 playoffs, so Bourque decided to play one more season. He achieved his boyhood dream in 2001 when the Avalanche defeated New Jersey in seven games. He finally was finally able to hoist the Stanley Cup and cap off his career as a champion. It took Bourque 1,826(regular season and playoffs) games to win his first and only championship, a NHL record.

Bourque hung up his skates for good following his championship season of 2001.

In his career, he scored 410 goals and recorded 1,169 assists for 1,579 points in 1,612 regular season games. In the playoffs, Bourque added 41 goals and 139 assists in 214 games. 

Raymond Jean Bourque was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

If you had a favorite athlete growing up that you would like to see featured as the Boston Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month, send me a nomination by e-mail .


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