By StephanieLee Elliott
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Charles Adams travelled to Montreal in 1924 to watch the Stanley Cup Final between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Tigers of the WCHL, only to have the series inspire the New England entrepreneur to bring hockey to his home area. Adams’ ties to the franchise extend farther than just bringing the Bruins to Massachusetts – the club’s black and gold color scheme were the primary colors of Adams’ supermarket chain.
* The Bruins played their first NHL game against the Montreal Maroons at Boston Arena on December 1, 1924. The Bruins won the contest 2-1, with Smokey Harris and Carson Cooper scoring Boston’s goals in what was the first NHL regular-season game played in the United States.
* Click here for more Bruins history, including retired numbers and captains history.
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS: 2023-24
Encapsulating 100 years of hockey history is no easy task, but the Bruins have honed their celebrations into two key foundations: their iconic jerseys and the players who donned them to create countless memories through the course of 6,790 regular-season games and 689 playoff contests.
* A redesign of the recent black and white home and away jerseys, the Centennial primary uniforms feature new crests, coloring and striping. For the first time since the early 1990s, the club’s primary uniforms are adorned with complementary team crests – a gold-trimmed Spoked-B on the home uniform and a black-trimmed “Spoked-B” on the road uniform.
* The right and left sleeves each contain three gold stripes for a total of six as a nod to the organization’s six Stanley Cup championships (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972 & 2011).
* The alternate sweater for the Centennial year carries a more vintage style but is the first sweater in club history that features “Bruins beige” as its base color.
Photo via @NHLBruins
* The Centennial celebration also included the announcement of the “Historic 100”, a list of the 100 most legendary players in Bruins history as voted by an independent committee of journalists and media members, historians and others in the hockey community. Included on that list is Brad Marchand, who on Sept. 20, 2023, was named the 27th captain in franchise history and ranks fifth in playoff games played (146), second in playoff goals (53), fourth in playoff assists (75) as well as second in playoff points (128). Entering his 15th season with the club, Marchand also ranks among the top 10 in franchise history for regular-season goals (6th; 372), points (7th; 862) and assists (9th; 490) and is set to become the eighth player to skate in 1,000 games for the Bruins (947).
PROGRESSION OF NHL RECORDS
Bruins players have held various single-season scoring records in their nearly 100 years of existence:
Goals in a Season
* In 1970-71, the Bruins’ 47th season, Phil Esposito scored 76 goals to shatterthe NHL single-season record previously held by Bobby Hull (58 in 1968-69 w/ CHI). Esposito bested Hull by scoring his 59th goal on March 11, 1971, against the Kings and Denis DeJordy. Esposito added 17 more to set the new benchmark at 76 goals, with his last coming on April 4, 1971, against the Canadiens and Phil Myre. Esposito was the NHL’s last holder of the benchmark before Wayne Gretzky set the current record of 92 in 1981-82.
Assists in a Season
* A Bruins player has held the NHL record for assists in a single season on four occasions:
47 – Bill Cowley, 1940-41 (previous: 37 by Joe Primeau with 1931-32 Maple Leafs)
77 – Phil Esposito, 1968-69 (previous: 62 by Stan Mikita with 1966-67 Black Hawks)
87 – Bobby Orr, 1969-70 (besting Esposito’s record set a year prior)
102 – Bobby Orr, 1970-71 (besting his own record set a year prior)
Points in a Season
* A Bruins player has held the NHL record for points in a single season on four occasions:
73 – Cooney Weiland, 1929-30 (previous: 51 by Howie Morenz with 1927-28 Canadiens)
82 – Herb Cain, 1943-44 (previous: 73 by Doug Bentley with 1942-43 Black Hawks)
126 – Phil Esposito, 1968-69 (previous: 97 by Stan Mikita with 1966-67 Black Hawks)
152 – Phil Esposito, 1970-71 (besting his own record set two years prior)
* Bruins players account for both the first 100-point season by any player in NHL history (Esposito in 1968-69) and the first 100-point season by a defenseman in NHL history (Bobby Orr in 1969-70).
MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN BRUINS HISTORY
2022-23 Regular Season
A remarkable 2022-23 regular season marked not only the last campaign for longtime Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron – who captured his record sixth Selke Trophy – and David Krejci, but one in which Boston set multiple League records in an unforgettable regular season. Among the highlights, Boston set the single season wins (65) and standings points (135) records, held first place in the Atlantic Division for the entire season and became the first team in NHL history with five winning streaks of seven or more games. Additionally, David Pastrnak (61) became the first Bruins skater to post a 60-goal campaign since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 and goaltender Linus Ullmark (40) provided an unexpected source of offense, scoring a goal against Vancouver on Feb. 25. Read more about their historic season here.
May 14, 2013: Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals vs. Toronto
The Maple Leafs rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to force a seventh and deciding contest, but the Bruins closed out the Conference Quarterfinals by becoming the first team in NHL history to overcome a three-goal, third-period deficit to win a Game 7. Patrice Bergeron had a legendary performance in the winner-take-all showdown as Boston erased a 4-1 third-period deficit, accounting for two of the Bruins‘ four unanswered goals – the tying tally with 51 seconds left in regulation and the overtime winner.
June 15, 2011: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Vancouver
The Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history, and first in 39 years, after overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits against the Canucks. Patrice Bergeron (2-0—2) scored twice and Brad Marchand (2-1—3)became the second rookie with three points in Game 7 of the Final, while Tim Thomas (37 saves) became the fourth goaltender in NHL history to record a shutout in Game 7 of the Final. Boston was the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s in a single postseason (also LAK in 2014).
April 27, 2011: Game 7 of the Conference Quarterfinals vs. Montreal
In the 33rd all-time playoff installment of the historic Bruins-Canadiens rivalry, Boston rallied from a 2-0 series deficit via three consecutive victories, but Montreal avoided elimination in Game 6. In the decisive contest, Boston surrendered leads of 2-0 and 3-2 – with Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban tying the score in the final two minutes of regulation – but Nathan Horton scored his second overtime goal of the series to put the higher-ranked Bruins into the next round. Horton became the second player in franchise history to score multiple overtime goals in a single series, joining Mel Hill who had an NHL-record three during the 1939 Semifinals.
May 15, 1990: Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. Edmonton
Led by Ray Bourque, Boston made its second Stanley Cup Final appearance in three seasons and met an Edmonton team captained by Mark Messier in search of its first Cup since trading Wayne Gretzky. Bourque scored twice in the third period to help the Bruins erase a multi-goal deficit, but it was Gretzky’s longtime teammate, Jari Kurri, who captured an assist on Petr Klima’s overtime goal that ended the longest Stanley Cup Final game in NHL history in triple overtime (55:13).
The 1970-71 campaign was the most productive in the Hall of Fame career of five-time Art Ross Trophy winner Phil Esposito (76-76—152 in 78 GP), who became the first player in NHL history to score 70 goals in a season and also the first player to reach the 150-point plateau in a single campaign. So rare were those feats in that era that it would be at least a decade until another player scored 70 goals in a season (Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82) or reached 150 points (also Gretzky in 1980-81).
1969-70: Orr becomes first defenseman to win Art Ross Trophy
Bobby Orr (33-87—120 in 76 GP) became the first defenseman in NHL history to both reach the 100-point mark in a season and capture the Art Ross Trophy as the League’s top scorer in 1969-70. Not only was Orr the League’s leading point producer, he lapped the field with a 21-point lead over second place (and teammate) Phil Esposito (43-56—99 in 76 GP). To date, Orr is still the only defenseman to ever win the Art Ross Trophy (also 1974-75) and his six 100-point seasons stand as the most by a defenseman in NHL history.
May 10, 1970: Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final vs. St. Louis
Bobby Orr’s brilliance from the regular season filtered into the 1970 postseason and Stanley Cup Final. Orr followed his League-leading regular season with nine goals and 20 points in the playoffs – records among blueliners at the time – and capped the run by famously flying through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 4 of the Final to give the Bruins their first championship in 29 years. It marked – and still stands as – the fastest overtime goal in a Cup-clinching contest in League history (0:40), besting Elmer Lach (1:22 in Game 5 of 1953 SCF vs. BOS).
1939 Semifinals: ’Sudden Death’ Mel Hill sets record
The Bruins captured the second Stanley Cup in franchise history with a 4-1 series win over the Maple Leafs in the Final, but it was the heroics of Mel Hill in a tense seven-game Semifinals series with the rival Rangers that is the focus of franchise lore. Hill scored three overtime goals in the series (Game 1, Game 2 & Game 7) to set a record that stands to this day and earned him the “Sudden Death” moniker.
1928-29: First Stanley Cup in franchise history
The Bruins captured their first Stanley Cup in franchise history in just their fifth NHL season, defeating the Rangers in a historic series – the first between two U.S.-based teams in the Final. It also marked the inaugural season at Boston Garden – their venerable home for the next several decades. The Bruins swept the Canadiens and Rangers in the 1929 Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to the title, with future Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Tiny Thompson allowing just three goals in five games.
THE BLACK AND GOLD IN POP CULTURE
The Bruins, their players, their colors and their presence have extended beyond the reaches of the rink and into pop culture through the decades.
* Cam Neely, current Bruins president, was a fan-favorite for the franchise and spent 10 seasons in the black and gold (1986-87 to 1995-96). Neely famously made cameos through notable movies throughout the 90s, including Dumb and Dumber (1994) and D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994).
* The ’Spoked B’ captured an abundance of screen time during Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore in 1996, including the spotlight in the film’s iconic scene featuring the late Bob Barker.
* Ben Affleck, famously a native of Massachusetts, has frequently displayed his passion for the hockey team in his home state in various movies. He first donned a black-and-gold Bruins themed jacket in Good Will Hunting (1997) and again in The Town (2010).
* The music industry has also paid homage to the Original Six franchise. In 2003, the Dropkick Murphys – a band formed in Quincy, Massachusetts and notably recognized for I’m Shipping Up to Boston – released Time to Go as part of their Blackout album and in tribute to the black-and-gold. The late Gord Downie, who was close friends with Joe Thornton and an unabashed Bruins fan, posthumously released You, Me, and The Bs in 2017 after previously name-checking Bobby Orr in the song Fireworks (1998).
BY THE NUMBERS
1,055 – Number of unique players who played a regular season and/or playoff game with the Bruins.
65 – The most wins by a team in a season in NHL history, achieved by the Bruins in 2022-23.
63 – Number of different goaltenders who have recorded a shutout for Boston since 1917-18, the most among all franchises.
21 – Seasons Johnny Bucyk (1957-58 to 1977-78) and Ray Bourque (1979-80 to 1999-00) spent with the Bruins, the longest tenured skaters in team history.
15 – Seasons Ray Bourque (1985-86 to 1999-00) served as captain of the Bruins, the most by any player in franchise history. Of note, Bourque was named co-captain from 1985-86 to 1987-88.
10 – Years the longest tenured head coaches, Claude Julien (2007-08 to 2016-17) and Art Ross (1924-25 to 1933-34), served with the club.
6 – Stanley Cups won by Boston, trailing only Montreal, Toronto and Detroit for the most in NHL history.
3 – Number of No. 1 picks made by Boston in the NHL Draft: Joe Thornton (1997), Gord Kluzak (1982) and Barry Gibbs (1966).
1 – The Bruins will be the first U.S.-based team to reach 100 years of play in the NHL (and third franchise overall, following the Canadiens and Maple Leafs).