National Hockey League of Nations: Boston Bruins Redux, Part 1

Gail Oskin

Canada vs. the WORLD!

There was a lot of (arguably justifiable) outrage over in the comments section of Puck Daddy's National Hockey League of Nations: Bruins Edition article the last few days. Primarily, the outrage centered around the authors' suggestion that anyone even approached Bobby Orr in terms of Canadian Greatness where the Bruins are concerned; primarily, those people are pretty much spot-on in their anger.

But it doesn't really make things much fun when one guy is the out-and-out winner in the country that has produced like 95% of our great team's players. Especially since here at Stanley Cup of Chowder, we really like to argue! That said, we're breaking this League of Nations thing down into a two-part series, in which we'll examine who's the best Bruin of all time from each province, and who's the best from each other country that has produced at least one Bruins player.

Without further ado...

Bruins League of Nations: Canada Edition

British Columbia: Cam Neely

The nice thing about spreading this League of Nations out by province/state is that it allows us to include a bigger number of Bruins legends. Case in point: the not-even-mentioned-on-Puck-Daddy, power forward of all power forwards, 90's superstar Cam Neely. Really, no explanation is necessary, here: Cam flippin' Neely, of Comox, British Columbia, did such great things as
a) scoring 50 goals in 44 games (only Gretzky did it in fewer)
b) playing 10 seasons with the Bruins
c) this:

He's considered one of the best all-around players to play the game, and if he hadn't had knee and hip issues that forced him to retire at 31...well, who knows. The trade of Pederson for Neely also leads to a crazy trade tree out of which the Bruins got Lucic, Horton, and Campbell, so that's pretty neat.

Moving across to the prairies, we find...

Alberta - John Bucyk

You thought Neely was a Bruin for a long time? Johnny "Chief" Bucyk played for the Bruins from 1957-1978. Yeah, that's right - of a 22-year NHL career, 20 of those years were played in Boston. Bucyk was no slouch on the scoring front, either - he ended his career with 1369 total points scored, and of those, 1339 came in a Bruins sweater. He is the 24th-leading NHL points scorer of all time, and has played the 12th-most games in NHL history.

He owns the record for most goals in a Bruins sweater, and his points/assists total has only since been surpassed by our Provincial Representative from Quebec. And, he won the Lady Byng twice! A Gentleman AND a scorer.

His #9 jersey is retired by the Bruins and he's in the HHoF. It's pretty hard to find any other Albertan that even comes close to the awesomeness of John Bucyk. (But, you know, dream big, Johnny Boychuk?)

Saskatchewan - Eddie Shore

Eddie Shore was seriously good at hockey ("Old Time Hockey! Eddie Shore!") but he was also absolutely batshit crazy. My favorite story is about the time he missed the team train to Montreal, and rather than miss the game, he instead took a limo into the snowstorm, and although it took him 22 hours (this is after deciding the limo driver was going too slow, so he took over driving), he MADE IT. And then he scored the game winning goal. Seriously, read the whole story here. He had his ear mostly ripped off in practice once, the day after two Canadiens were traded to the Bruins and he got into a tiff with one of them; he then proceeded to SEW HIS OWN EAR BACK ON. Without anesthetic. Because, uh, Old Time Hockey?

He won two Cups with the Bruins and was one of the earliest players to actually wear a helmet on a regular basis, after his incident with Ace Bailey.

He also once almost had a boxing match with a baseball player in 1930, but said baseball player wimped out. Eddie Shore was just a ridiculous human being. He also later owned the Springfield (MA) Indians, and coined the term Black Aces. He was entered into the HHoF in 1947, and the Bruins have retired his #2. The annual award for best defenseman in the AHL is named after him.

Again, no one even comes close to approaching Eddie Shore levels of awesome from Saskatchewan.

Manitoba: Dallas Smith

Dallas Smith, Bobby Orr's blueline partner, was a Bruin for 15 years. He was a farmer in the offseason, and actually turned down a spot on 1972 Team Canada in the Summit Series in favor of working on his farm. He only scored 55 goals in his NHL career, but who needs to score goals when Bobby Orr is on the ice with you all the time? (He had 307 assists. Probably safe to assume Bobby scored off a lot of those.)

He won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins, and although he's not in the HHoF and doesn't have his number retired, he's still the best Manitoban to ever wear the spoked-B.

Ontario: Bobby Orr

Yeah, this one's a no-brainer. From his roots with the Oshawa Generals through ten seasons with the Bruins (and parts of two with Chicago) in which he scored 270 goals and recorded 645 assists, Orr changed the game as a high-scoring defenseman. He still holds the records for most points and most assists scored in one season by a defenseman; he was the youngest inductee into the HHoF at age 31; his #4 is retired by the Bruins.

Everyone knows this story; here's some video. 888 points as a Bruin; two-time Art Ross trophy winner, and the only player to ever win the Hart, Norris, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe in one year. Can you imagine if he'd had a bionic knee and could have played healthily after age 30?

Quebec: Raymond Bourque

The best Bruins' defenseman after Bobby Orr came to Boston in 1979, three years after Orr left. Drafted out of the Q, Bourque, from St-Laurent, Quebec, was actually a panic pick - the Bruins weren't intending to select him - but it's a good thing they did.

Bourque would go on to amass 1579 points in his career, which is the most ever scored by a defenseman. He's scored the most goals in his career of all defensemen, with 410. He also holds the record for shots on goal with 6206, which is insane. He played in the all-star game every year it was held during his career. He also graciously gave up his #7 when it was time for Phil Esposito's #7 to be retired; in a dramatic pre-game ceremony, he removed his own sweater to reveal a #77 underneath, which he would wear for the rest of his career.

Ray Bourque: great defenseman and really cool guy. Seriously, this is a great video.

His own #77 was retired in two cities; Denver and Boston, and when he won the Cup in Colorado, after 21 seasons of never-quite-enough in Boston, many Bruins fans celebrated his accomplishment. You've got to be a pretty special guy for Boston fans to have that sort of dedication to you once you leave. He was the longest-serving Captain in Bruins history, and the second-longest in NHL history.

On to the Maritimes...

New Brunswick: Don Sweeney

Hailing from the Canadian border with Maine - St. Stephen, New Brunswick - Don Sweeney played as a Boston Bruin for 15 seasons; his 16th and final season, 2003-2004, he played for the Dallas Stars. A graduate of Harvard University, he's also one of two defensemen to play over 1,000 games in a Bruins uniform, the other, obviously, being Ray Bourque. Not exactly known for his offense, Sweeney scored 52 goals and 221 assists through 1115 NHL games.

Now, he's the assistant GM of the Bruins. Here is a video of him fighting Mark Recchi, for funsies.

Nova Scotia: Flash Hollett

From Sydney, Nova Scotia, came Flash Hollett in the 30s and 40s, the precursor to Bobby Orr and winner of the Bruins' first two Stanley Cups. Indeed, it was Hollett's records that Orr eventually broke; you can read all about his acquisition in the awesome Bruins-Sens post Cornelius posted yesterday. He retired as the highest-scoring defenseman in league history, and benefitted greatly from the war-depleted NHL of the early 40s. His 19 goals in 1942 were, at that time, the record for goals scored by a defenseman in a season; he beat his own record in a Red Wings uniform a few years later with 20 goals, and that record did indeed stand for nearly 25 years before Orr shattered it.

Our Nova Scotian runner up is Brad Marchand. This Starley Cup Champiar and annoying Haligonian has racked up 133 points in three and a half seasons, won a Cup, and has earned a reputation for being a pain in the ass. Not quite Hollett levels of awesome, but you know, he's only 25 yet.

PEI: Adam McQuaid

It seems really strange to have Darth Quaider, the "tough hombre" of seven goals and 23 assists in 190 NHL games who is only 26 years old with a lot of his career ahead of him, listed with some of these great NHLers. But the fact of the matter is, McQuaid holds the distinction of being the only player from PEI to have played more than 10 games with the Bruins!

So congrats, McQuaid.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Michael Ryder

Similar to the PEI situation, Ryder is the only Newfoundlander to log significant playing time as a Bruin. It's an added bonus that in his three seasons as a Bruin he scored 63 goals and 64 assists in the regular season, and helped the Bruins to a Cup in 2011.

And I do mean helped. Because not only did he have eight goals and 17 overall points in those playoffs, but um, seriously.

That concludes our Canadian leg of the League of Nations tour; stay tuned for the World edition on Monday!

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