Boston Bruins: Captains Along The Way

2018 NHL Playoff Race

By Josie Lemieux – Consultant – @HockeyPsyched – Mental toughness – Emotional control

An NHL captain leads, plays, acts and talks by example. He represents his teammates’ issues to management when needed and is present during community and charity events. Through history, several Boston Bruins have been given that position.

1924-1925: no captain was named. Art Ross was the Bruins’ first coach.

1925-1927 (2 seasons): Sprague Cleghorn acted an unofficial captain for 2 years. During his third and last season with the Bruins, he was also assistant coach. He mentored Eddie Shore.

1927-1931 (4 seasons): Lionel Hitchman made the Bruins win their first Stanley Cup. He coached and played when Art Ross became ill in 1933.

1931-1932: George Owen played 5 seasons with the Bruins but remained captain only one season. First player to wear a helmet in an NHL game? Not confirmed.

1932-1936 (6 seasons): Dit Clapper was a member of the Dynamite Line with Dutch Gainor and Cooney Weiland, considered tall and heavy at 6’2¨ and 200 pounds.

1938-1939: Conney Weiland also became coach and led the Bruins to their third Stanley Cup in 1941.

1939-1946 (7 season): Dit Clapper came back and also acted as player-coach (only one in history), when Art Ross was sick again in 1944.

1946-1950 (5 seasons): John ¨Jack¨ Crawford spent his entire 13-year NHL career with the Boston Bruins. Dit Clapper, also captain, played his last game in February 1947, and Crawford remained captain until his retirement.

1950-1955 (5 seasons): Milt Schmidt returned from war duty in 1945 and was a member of the Kraut Line with Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart.

1954-1955: Ed Sandford took the position when Milt Schmidt retired and played 8 years from the Bruins. He was involved in a nine-player deal in 1955 – the largest in NHL and was transferred to the Detroit red Wings.

1955-1961 (6 seasons): Fernie Flaman played back-and-forth with the Bruins (1946-1951), went to the Leafs and came back to Boston in 1954. He was named captain in 1955 and remained until the end of his NHL career.

1961-1963 (2 seasons): Don McKenney was named captain during the Bruins’ worst playoff slump to this date, seven seasons in a row. The 1967 NHL expansion added the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the St-Louis Blues, California Seals (until 1976 and historically connected to the San Jose Sharks), Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars and Philadelphia Flyers.

1963-1965 (3 seasons): Leo Boivin has been with the Bruins since 1954 and was a prolific defenseman. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 1966 and had the opportunity to play with Gordie Howe.

1966-1967: John Bucyk: The Chief was a member of the ¨ Uke¨ line with Bronco Horvath and Vic Stasiuk, all of Ukrainian descent.

1967-1973: No captain. Alternates captains during that period were Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Ed Westfall, Ted Green and Dallas Smith.

1973-1977 (4 seasons): Johnny Bucyk came back as official captain, with Bobby Orr and Dallas Smith as alternates.

1977-1983 (6 seasons): With Don Cherry behind the bench since 1974, Wayne Cashman took the position and stayed his entire NHL career with the Boston Bruins (1964-1965, 1967-1983).

1983-1985 (2 seasons): Before retiring from an extensive Bruins career which started in 1971, Terry O’Reilly became captain for his last 2 hockey seasons he was the ¨ protector ¨ of his teammates.

1985-1986: Rick Middleton took the position after O’Reilly’s departure, named co-captain with Ray Bourque, wearing the “C” during home games until he retired in 1988.

1988-2000: Ray Bourque became the only captain and played for the Bruins for 21 years (1979-2000). He won his most desired prize, the Stanley Cup, with his new team, the Colorado Avalanche. Joe Sakic, the Avs’captain, passed it to Bourque prior to lifting it up himself.

2000-2001: Jason Allison was a member of the Bruins since 1996. However, due to a contract holdout, he did not report to training camp and was nowhere to be found during preseason. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for good reasons: Glen Murray and Jozef Stumpel.

2001-2002: Jason Allison left in October. The spot was vacant afterwards.

2002-2006 (3 seasons): Joe Thornton played 7 years as a Bruin, 3 as the team’s captain. He was traded in a controversial atmosphere in 2005 by Bruins’ GM Mike O’Connell, who quoted ¨wanting to build the team around Patrice Bergeron ¨.

2006-present (12 seasons): Zdeno Chara, arriving from the Ottawa Senators, took Thorton’s place. He is the third player from Slovakia to become an NHL captain after Quebec Nordiques’ Peter Stastny, the father of Winnipeg Jets’ Paul Stastny,  and Chicago Blackhawks’ Stan Mikita (co-captain).

Like Chara once said: “The important thing is to watch each other’s backs out on the ice.  That’s what matters.”

Did all the captains and assistants of the Bruins think that way?

It’s up to you to discuss it.

Photo Credit: By Lisa Gansky from New York, NY, USA (IMG_2410) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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