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This Week In Bruins History: Raising number 7 to the rafters

Ray Bourque presents Phil Esposio with his newly retired number on December 3, 1987.
Ray Bourque presents Phil Esposio with his newly retired number on December 3, 1987.

One of the most memorable Boston Bruins moments burned its place in the history books early December 1987. The Bruins honored hall of famer Phil Esposito by adding the number he wore for nine years up with the likes of other guys you may have heard of, Orr, Shore and some other guys that may know a think about winning. However a young defenceman by the name of Raymond Bourque had been wearing that same number on his sweater. Bourque alone made this night one that Esposito would never forget.

On December 3, 1987, Ray Bourque skated out to center ice to present Phil Esposito with the familiar #7 jersey that he wore as a Bruin. What seemed to be a quick exchange soon turned into an extremely emotional moment. To the surprise of everyone including the team and Esposito, Bourque pulled off his #7 jersey to reveal the iconic #77 that hangs in the rafter with Esposito's #7. Esposito had told Bourque that he wanted him to wear his number, but Bourque had to much respect for what Phil did during his time in Boston and decided to do what was right. Bourque was quoted as saying. "This is yours big fella, its not mine and it never should have been mine and I never wanted it, Its yours and always should have been yours." Esposito said it was the most thrilling experience of his hockey career. To show his respect, Esposito was the one to hand Bourque his #77 when his number was retired.

Phil Esposito was a two time Stanley Cup Champion, two time Hart Trophy winner amongst many more pieces of hardware. He was one of the most dominant players of his era and had no problem skating into the dirty areas to take a shot or tip a Bobby Orr bomb into the net. He is the type of player and personality that no one would forget, but raising that #7 just reminds all of us that sees that number high into that rafters of the Garden of his greatness.

Phil Esposito retirement day (via stacktrick)