The Boston Bruins are one of the original six teams of the NHL. Grocery
magnate Charles Adams bought an NHL franchise in 1924 for a reported
$15,000. The Bruins team colors of yellow and brown matched those of his Brookside grocery stores. The Bruins first season was nothing to write home about as they finished with a dismal 6-24 record. Hockey fans in Boston were still packing the Boston Arena until the Boston Gardens opened in 1928. Three short years after their inception, the Boston Bruins were coming about to be Stanley cup contenders. They made their very first playoff appearance but lost to the Ottawa Senators in the 1927 season, but the team would continue to turn the corner. In the 1929 playoffs the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers to win their first Stanley Cup championship.
By the 1930s the Boston Bruins were well on their way in establishing their own unique style of play. Under the guidance of Art Ross and with the hard nosed play of Eddie Shore, the Bruins were known as one of the toughest team to go up against. The Bruins featured Tiny Thompson in goal, Eddie Shore on defense, and the "Kraut Line" upfront scoring goals. Art Ross is often regarded as one of hockey's great innovators. He introduced the game to beveled-edge pucks, fiber guards to protect the achilles tendons, and he was the first coach to pull his goaltender for an extra sixth skater. Throughout the decade the Bruins were a regular participant in the NHL playoffs. They developed long lasting rivalries with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, rivalries that still exist to this day. In the 1939 playoffs the Bruins faced off against Lester Patrick's New York Rangers. In a close seven game series the Bruins defeated the Rangers and went on to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup final. The Leafs were handily dispatched by the Bruins in a five game series as Boston won their second Stanley Cup. Two years later without the venerable Eddie Shore, the Bruins were back in the playoff hunt beating the Leafs in a seven game series. Next in line were the Detroit Red Wings, and the powerhouse Bruins team had no trouble sweeping them in four straight to win their second Stanley Cup in three years. For the next decade and a half, the Bruins continued to field competitive teams making many memorable playoff runs, but continually fell short of the Stanley Cup.
The 1960s started off for the Bruins with an elongated streak of missing the playoffs. From 1959 to 1966 the once mightly Bruins were left looking in from the outside. In 1966-67 Harry Sinden, an intense 37 year old who had never played in the NHL, took over control of the club. The Bruins began to turn the corner as their up and coming star defenseman Bobby Orr matured into an NHL force. Unlike the defensive minded defensemen of the time, Orr revolutionized the game by leading attacks and scoring a whole lot of goals. He won the Calder trophy as rookie of the year in 1966-67 and went on to play eleven seasons in the NHL. The Bruins broke their 29 year Stanley Cup drought in 1970 under the leadership of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. They defeated the St. Louis Blues in four straight and produced one of the most memorable images in NHL history; Bobby Orr flying past Blues defenseman Noel Picard as he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal. The next season saw Sinden resign due to a salary dispute, but the team was in top form as it rolled into the playoffs. They lost in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens in a seven game series. The Bruins used this early exit to motivate themselves into a first place finish in the 1971-72 season. Their one-two punch of Esposito and Orr took home the Art Ross and Hart trophies, respectively. The Bruins faced off against a strong New York Ranger team in the Stanley Cup finals. Bobby Orr became the first player to win a second Conn Smythe trophy as he scored the Cup-winning goal for the second time in his career, beating the New York Rangers in six games.
With the advance of the World Hockey Association and expansion within the NHL, the Bruins soon found themselves losing key players to their competition. With the pairing of Esposito and Orr still in place, the Bruins still were a team to watch. They continued to make playoff appearances throughout the 1970s, though another Stanley Cup championship would elude them. Hampered by bad knees and after numerous surgeries, Bobby Orr left the Bruins for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1975. His career would end a few years later and he was quickly inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This era of Bruins hockey also featured the flamboyant and outspoken coach Don Cherry. His exuberance made him a fan favorite across the league, but a fued with general manager Harry Sinden saw him leave and the Bruins lose much of their lustre. As the 1970s came to an end, the Bruins were no match for the up and coming NHL teams. In the 1979 draft, the Bruins drafted a QMJHL defenseman by the name of Ray Bourque. Though he was less flashy than Orr and Shore - the standards of excellence in Boston - he proved to be one of the most durable, skilled, and productive defensemen in Bruins and NHL history. Throughout the 1980s the Bruins were consistant in making the playoffs but never cracked the Stanley Cup finals. The streak was finally broken in the 1988 playoffs as the Bruins with Bourque and Neely took on the Edmonton Oilers in the finals. The high scoring Oilers made quick work of the Bruins, sweeping them in a four game series to win their fourth Stanley Cup.
The Bruins would have a chance for redemption in 1990 as once again they faced off against the Oilers in the Stanley Cup finals. This time they were able to take one game, but were no match for Mark Messier and Bill Ranford led Edmonton Oiler team. The 1995-96 season also featured a special occasion as the Bruins moved out of the now dilapidated Boston Gardens to a brand new facility, the FleetCenter. Missing the playoffs in the 1996-97 season ushered change within the coaching ranks and brought Pat Burns to Boston. Under his tight defensive scheme and with young potential starts like Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, the Bruins were able to scrounge together a playoff berth, before losing to the Washington Capitals in a six game series. The Bruins closed out the century by trading Ray Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche. They were the NHL's seventh winningest team in the 1990's, reaching one Stanley Cup final and three conference finals along the way. The Bruins of the 2000s were a younger team, featuring the likes of Allison, Guerin, Thornton, and Samsonov. Monetary concerns would soon see them lose Allison and Guerin and with a new coach in Robby Ftorek, the Bruins continued to play effective hockey but lacked the resources to get deep into the NHL playoffs.
Boston Bruins Overview:
Stanley Cups won: 5 (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972)