This Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most famous goals in hockey history, the one that’s memorialized on the walls of countless bars, bedrooms, and offices in Boston and beyond.
It was on May 10, 1970 that Bobby Orr scored “the goal,” the one that saw him fly through the air and into sporting immortality, the one that gave the Bruins their fourth Stanley Cup, their first in nearly 30 years.
The NHL Network’s latest original production, The 1970 Bruins: Big, Bad & Bobby, tells the story of that team through the eyes of the players, coaches, and fans who lived it.
If you grew up in New England and weren’t old enough to live it, you’ve heard the stories. You may have heard them from your father or mother, grandfather or grandmother. Regardless of who was telling the stories, we all remember hearing about the “big, bad Bruins.”
It was these Bruins teams that earned that moniker, one that still lives with the franchise to this day.
In a fun, hour-long documentary, the NHL Network tells the story of how that team came together, why they were so good, and how the team revolutionized hockey in Massachusetts and created a bond with the city that has never been broken.
The highlights of the documentary are the comments and insights from the players themselves. Guys like Orr, Gerry Cheevers, Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Derek Sanderson, and Harry Sinden clearly have such strong memories of those years, and that really comes to life in their stories.
In fact, the best moments of the documentary occur as Esposito, Cheevers, Orr, and Sanderson sit around a table and talk with each other. No moderator, no on-screen prompts, just some hockey legends shooting the breeze.
The story and the emotions from the people who lived it
The documentary has its cliche Boston moments, but mostly focuses on the players who were there and the personalities who came of age loving these Bruins teams.
Jackie MacMullan, who has made her name as a basketball writer, has a ton of great anecdotes about growing up cheering for these teams, and tells a story that is familiar to a lot of lucky kids of that era: how Sunday night Bruins games became her thing with her father.
Another great line comes from Charlestown native and NFL Hall-of-Famer Howie Long, who says that when he was growing up, he dreamed of being a hockey player, not a football player.
The documentary is filled with footage from the games of the 60s and 70s, and I don’t know what the NHL Network did to restore it, but it looks fantastic. The colors are bright, the images are clear, and you feel like you’re right back there watching along.
From basement dwellers to hockey royalty
1970 begins by telling the story of the hapless Bruins teams of the pre-Orr era, describing how the Bruins were little more than a laughingstock before Orr came around. We then follow the team through their couple of kicks at the can that came up short before the famed 1969-1970 campaign.
The perfect summary of the Bruins teams of that era comes from Orr, who, prior to one of his early seasons in Boston, said (paraphrasing) that this year, no guy on our team is going to get in a fight alone.
That spirit still lives on in many Bruins fans to this day, with plenty of people pining for the return of those big, bad days. Still, nothing will compare to these squads, loaded with Hall of Famers and playing with the support of a city that embraced hockey like never before.
It’s a fun ride for fans both young and old. Whether you were there to witness it or have only heard the stories, 1970 is a must-watch item for Bruins fans.
Sanderson’s bad boy ways. Orr effortlessly carving up NHL defenses. Cheevers’ iconic mask. Esposito piling up goals.
The Bruins of the 60s and 70s inspired connections with the city and their fans that live on to this day.
1970 does a great job bringing those connections to a whole new generation.
The 1970 Bruins: Big, Bad & Bobby premiers Sunday night at 8 PM on NHL Network. In Canada, it will be simulcast on Sportsnet. You can watch the trailer below.