Boston Bruins History
The Boston Bruins are one of five teams in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The Bruins play at the FleetCenter in Boston, Massachusetts, and wear uniforms of gold, black, and white.
From 1927 to 1958 Boston reached the Stanley Cup Finals ten times, coming away with three victories. The Bruins were one of the NHL’s most dominant teams during the 1970s, capturing seven division crowns and two Stanley Cup championships during the decade. Several future members of the Hockey Hall of Fame have played for the Bruins, including center Phil Esposito and defenseman Bobby Orr.
The Bruins joined the NHL in 1924. Art Ross was the team’s owner, general manager, and head coach. Under Ross, for whom the annual Art Ross Trophy for the NHL’s leading scorer is named, Boston advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals three times in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Ross assembled a powerful lineup around defensemen Aubrey Clapper and Eddie Shore, goalie Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, and center Ralph “Cooney” Weiland. Weiland’s league-high 73 points in 1929-30 stood as a franchise record for 14 years. Ross guided the Bruins to both their first and second Stanley Cup victories: In 1929 the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers 2 games to 0, in what was then a best-of-three series, and in 1939 they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4 games to 1, in what had become a best-of-seven series.
During the ten-year period between these two wins, Bruins players accumulated many individual awards. Shore won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player (MVP) in 1933, 1935, 1936, and 1938. Center Bill Cowley received both the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy for the 1940-41 season; he was again named MVP in 1943. Thompson was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s leading goaltender in 1930, 1933, 1936, and 1938. Another Bruins goalie, Frankie “Mr. Zero” Brimsek, won the Vezina Trophy in 1939 and 1942.
Ralph Weiland went on to become Boston’s head coach, and under him Boston collected another Stanley Cup title in 1941 when they defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4 games to 0. The Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals five more times from 1943 to 1958 but failed to win the championship. Boston’s starring line of left wing Woody Dumart, center Milt Schmidt, and right wing Bobby Bauer ranked among the finest of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Schmidt was named MVP in 1951. From 1959 to 1967 the Bruins slumped, failing to reach the playoffs and consistently placing at or near the bottom of their division.
The Bruins improved again beginning in 1967, under head coach Harry Sinden. Boston’s lineup featured left wing John Bucyk, center Phil Esposito, and defensemen Bobby Orr and Brad Park—all eventual Hockey Hall of Fame members. The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Finals five times from 1970 to 1978. In 1970, under Sinden, the team won its fourth Stanley Cup championship by defeating the St. Louis Blues 4 games to 0. In 1972, under Tom Johnson, they captured their fifth championship, defeating the New York Rangers 4 games to 2. Bep Guidolin guided the Bruins to the finals in 1974, where they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 4 games to 2. Head coach Don Cherry received the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 1976. He took the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals in both 1977 and 1978, but they lost to the Montréal Canadiens both years.
From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s Bruins teammates Esposito and Orr formed one of the most explosive duos in league history. Esposito was named to the NHL All-Star team every year from 1968 to 1974, was named the NHL’s MVP in both 1969 and 1974, and was the league’s top scorer in 1969 and then every year from 1971 to 1974. In 1970 Orr became the first defenseman to be the league’s top scorer. That same season he received the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP, the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Orr was again named the league MVP in 1971 and 1972. He was named the league’s top defenseman eight seasons in a row, from 1968 to 1975.
Following a brief rebuilding period, Boston earned back-to-back division titles in 1982 and 1983 under head coach Gerry Cheevers, who had been a Bruins goalie from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. Ray Bourque became the league’s top defenseman, collecting five James Norris Memorial Trophies from 1987 to 1994. In 1988, under another former Boston player, Terry O’Reilly, the Bruins made their first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in ten years. Goalie Rejean Lemelin teamed with Bourque to anchor one of the league’s strongest defenses, but in the finals the Bruins lost to the Edmonton Oilers. They again fell to the Oilers in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals. The Bruins continued to be one of the top teams in the Northeast Division through the late 1990s.
Official Boston Bruins Web Site