Over the next few weeks, I will be looking at the best Bruins to wear each jersey number from 1-99. As an original six franchise, there were plenty of options to choose from for most numbers.
Some numbers were extremely easy…. some were not.
Part 1: Numbers 1-10
11: Steve Kasper
Kasper was a very solid two-way forward for the Bruins. A Selke Trophy winner in 1982, Kasper finished his NHL career with 468 points in 821 games. Kasper played nine seasons in Boston. After retiring in 1993, Kasper wound up behind the Bruins bench as the team’s head coach. In two seasons as the Bruins bench boss, Kasper’s Bruins went 66-78-20, making the playoffs in his first season.
12: Adam Oates
In six seasons with the Bruins, Oates became another one of my favorite all-time Bruins. Registering 499 points in 368 career games in Boston, Oates was as reliable as they come. Twice in a Bruins uniform, Oates registered at least 100 points, finishing with 142 in the 1991-92 season, and 112 in the 1992-93 season. As great as Oates’ career in Boston was, his exit from Boston was a memorable one as it was remembered for him publicly bashing team management in his final season in Boston.
13: Ken Linseman
For the younger crowd unfamiliar with Linseman, let me put it this way. Linseman was the Bruins Brad Marchand in the 80’s. Nearly a point per game player in Boston with 349 points in 372 games. Linseman finished his 15-year NHL career with 1727 penalty minutes. Linseman won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1984. He finished his NHL career with 120 points in 113 playoff games.
14: Sergei Samsonov
As the 8th overall pick by the Bruins in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Samsonov was awarded the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year that season, becoming the first Bruin since Ray Bourque in 1980 to win the award. Samsonov’s speed was a thing of beauty. With the help of Joe Thornton, Samsonov brought much hope to Boston as one of the game’s best young players. Samsonov had a pair of 70+ point seasons with the Bruins in the early 2000’s, but that was Samsonov’s ceiling as he struggled in his last few NHL seasons.
15: Milt Schmidt
What is there to say about the late Milt Schmidt that hasn’t already been said? Schmidt was the Bruins biggest ticket during his 16 seasons with the Bruins. Schmidt won a Hart Trophy in 1951, and was a part of two Stanley Cup Champion teams as player, lifting Lord Stanley in 1939 and 1941. Schmidt remains as the only Bruin in franchise history to serve as the team’s captain, coach and General Manager. Schmidt also won two Stanley Cups as the Bruins General Manager post retirement from the ice.
16: Rick Middleton
The fact that Rick Middleton is not in the Hockey Hall of Fame is embarrassing. After being traded to the Bruins from the Rangers, Middleton finished with 898 points in 881 games with the Bruins over 12 seasons. Middleton’s number 16 was finally retired last season, a well deserved honor. I’ve personally had the pleasure of working with Rick at several charity events, as well as a few hockey camps and you’ll be hard to find a guy nicer than he is.
17: Bobby Bauer
Few people know that it was Bobby’s family that established the Bauer Skate Company in the late 1920’s. Bauer was a dangerous goal scorer for the Bruins during his tenure in Boston. Bauer was a key member of the “Kraut Line,” and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. Kraut won the Lady Byng Trophy three times in his career, and was a two-time Stanley Cup Champion.
18: Nathan Horton
I was torn between Horton and Ed Westfall for this one, but because of how important Horton was to the Bruins Stanley Cup victory in 2011, I am going Horton. Scoring the game-winning overtime goals in both Games 5 and 7 in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens, who knows what the story of the 2011 Bruins would be if it was not for Horton. Let’s not forget that Horton’s tally in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals was the lone goal of the contest. And even though he only played in three games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks, his injury and overall presence was a motivating factor for a Bruins club that ended a 39-year Stanley Cup drought.
19: Joe Thornton
Drafted first overall by the Bruins in 1997, Thornton instantly brought excitement to a young Bruins squad. Thornton posted 454 points in 532 games with the Bruins before being shipped out to San Jose in exchange for Marco Sturm, two bags of pucks and seven peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Since being in San Jose, Thornton has grown into one of the best NHLer’s of this generation and will undoubtedly be a Hockey Hall of Famer some day.
20: Dallas Smith
Playing 15 seasons in Boston, Smith spent a good amount of time next to Bobby Orr on the Bruins blue line. Like Orr, Smith was a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Boston. In the 1970-71 season, Smith finished the year a plus-98, the fourth highest single season plus/minus in NHL history to date. Smith was a four-time All-Star.