Throughout the year, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the National Hockey League (NHL), discovering the best and worst each team has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink based off the franchise. Today, we’re shipping up to Boston to learn about the Bruins and what makes them so big and bad:
Establishment Story: The Bruins were founded in 1924, making them the oldest active U.S.-based team in the NHL. They are an Original Six franchise, created after American businessman Charles Adams convinced the NHL to expand into the U.S. The team’s first GM, Art Ross, chose the team’s name of Bruins, a nickname for brown bears, which matched the team’s original colours of brown and yellow, similar to Adams’ grocery store chain.
Stanley Cups: The Bruins have won six Stanley Cups, most recently sipping from Lord Stanley’s chalice in 2011. Boston has also come up short in the Stanley Cup Finals 14 times, the most runner-up ribbons in NHL history. Their victories came over the New York Rangers (1929 and 1972), Toronto Maple Leafs (1939), Detroit Red Wings (1941), St. Louis Blues (1970), and Vancouver Canucks (2011).
Celebrity Fan: The Bruins have a long list of celebrity supporters. Among them, are the likes of Denis Leary, John Krasinski, Bill Burr, Conor McGregor, and the band Dropkick Murphys. In a great trolling move, Burr made “Boston” the promo code to some of his comedy shows in Montreal, taking a jab at the long-time Bruins rival. The Dropkick Murphys have a number of songs either used by the Bruins or composed in homage to the team.
Super Fan: Liam Fitzgerald, aka Fist-Bump Kid, first became famous for a viral video showing the youngster fist-bumping Bruins players, as they left the ice following their pre-game warmup on November 4, 2014. Fitzgerald, who was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with leukemia when he was three, was made an honourary member of the team and even has his own hockey card. Now 16, Fist-Bump Kid appeared at the 2023 Winter Classic, fist-bumping Boston players as they were introduced.
Mascot: Blades the Bruin made his debut in 1999. His backstory says Blades was first introduced to hockey by watching long-time Bruins organization member Johnny Bucyk play pond hockey with some kids. Blades hopped into Bucyk’s truck after one of these sessions, arriving later at Boston Garden. There, Bucyk fed Blades pizza, hotdogs, popcorn and soda, and the bear never returned to the wild.
Tradition: Prior to puck drop each night, the Fan Banner, a giant Bruins flag, is passed around the lower bowl as Cochise by the band Audioslave blasts over the speaker system. An honourary Fan Banner captain is often used to lead the pre-game ceremony, which has included other Boston-area sports stars, such as Pedro Martinez and Julian Edelman, as well as inspirational honourees, like the Boston Marathon bombing survivors.
Appearances in Media: The Bruins have been featured in a number of movies and TV shows. First, on Cheers, fictional Bruins goalie Eddie LeBec marries bartender Carla Tortelli. Also, on Rescue Me, firefighter Tommy Gavin (played by Denis Leary) plays on the FDNY hockey team, which faces off against former Bruins Cam Neely and Phil Esposito. Lastly, in Happy Gilmore, the titular character is clad in Bruins home and away jerseys during the film.
Events/Scandals: Mitchell Miller was a renounced draft pick by Arizona Coyotes in 2020, when it was revealed he had repeatedly bullied a developmentally challenged classmate. For some reason, the Bruins thought signing Miller in 2022 was a good idea, kicking another hornet’s nest of troubles for the NHL. Two days after announcing the signing, the Bruins parted ways with Miller, but the damage to the team brand was already done.
Rivalry: The Bruins have had a number of storied rivalries throughout their history. Their arch nemesis would have to be the Montreal Canadiens, whom they have battled in the playoffs 34 times, with Montreal winning 18 straight post-season meetings from 1946 to 1987. Other rivals of the Bruins include the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers (Big Bad Bruins vs. Broad Street Bullies), as well as the defunct Hartford Whalers.
Tragedy: Normand Leveille was Boston’s top pick of the 1981 draft and showed promise in his rookie season, tallying 33 points in 60 games. Sadly, the Bruins never got to see what Leveille would become, as early in his sophomore campaign, he suffered a brain aneurysm, putting him into a three-week coma. Leveille survived, but lost the ability to walk, ending his NHL career at only 19 years old.
Player Nicknames: In 1938, when goalie Frank Brimsek recorded six shutouts in his first seven games with the Bruins, media and fans began calling him Mr. Zero and the ill will showed towards him for being brought in to replace fan favourite Tiny Thompson quickly faded. Later that season, Brimsek’s teammate Mel Hill earned the moniker Sudden Death, thanks to scoring three overtime game-winning goals, helping Boston win the Stanley Cup.
Line: A number of Bruins lines have gained notoriety, including the Kraut Line (Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, and Bobby Bauer), the Nitro Line (Wayne Cashman, Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge) and the Perfection Line (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak). The Kraut Line were the first unit to finish a season first, second and third in NHL scoring, while the Nitro Line led the team to two Stanley Cups.
Captain: Zdeno Chara was one of the Bruins best acquisitions ever, when they signed the towering defenseman in 2006. Chara would immediately become captain and lead the 2011 squad to the Stanley Cup. He remained with the team and served in the role of captain for 14 seasons, which included two other unsuccessful trips to the Stanley Cup Finals. Chara signed a one-day contract with Boston in September 2022, in order to retire as a member of the Bruins.
Enforcer: Terry O’Reilly was a great protector of his teammates, who affectionately nicknamed him Taz. Another moniker he was given, this time by the press, was Bloody O’Reilly. O’Reilly holds the Bruins franchise record for penalty minutes with 2,095. He was even referenced as Happy Gilmore’s favourite hockey play. O’Reilly’s #24 jersey was retired by the team in 2002.
Family Values: A few father and son duos enjoyed separate stints with the Bruins, including franchise legend Ray Bourque and son Chris; Ted Donato and son Ryan (each drafted by the Bruins 27 years apart); Ken Hodge and son Ken Jr. (first father and son to score a hat trick for the same team); and Ron Grahame and son John (first father and son to play goalie for the same team).
Returning Players: Goalie Gerry Cheevers was claimed by the Bruins in 1965 Intra-League Draft and would go on to backstop the team to their 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cups. He also went on a NHL record 32-game undefeated streak in 1972, before leaving to play in the World Hockey Association. Following a contract dispute in 1975, Cheevers returned to Boston, finishing his career with five more seasons. Cheevers may be best remembered for his mask, which he marked with stitches in places it had been hit.
Short Stint: A pair of Hall of Fame defensemen finished their careers with the Bruins. First, Paul Coffey was signed to a two-year, $4 million contract in the 2000 off-season, but after 18 games and only providing four assists, he was waived and went unclaimed by another team. Next, Brian Leetch joined Boston for the 2005-06 season, recording his 1,000 career point, over 61 contests with the team.
Undrafted: Defenseman Torey Krug was signed out of the NCAA in 2012, following a season where he led the league in scoring and was named a Hobey Baker Award (Player of the Year) finalist. Krug remained with the Bruins until 2020. Another notable college signing for Boston was Mike Milbury, who would spend his entire 12-season NHL career with the Bruins and also coach the team from 1989 to 1991.
Trade: Among the Bruins greatest trades, was acquiring star Phil Esposito from the Chicago Blackhawks in 1967. Esposito came to Boston along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield, developing into one of the best players of his generation. Esposito would win two Stanley Cups as a member of the Bruins, before being dealt in another blockbuster to the New York Rangers in 1975.
Signing: The rules of the NHL were much different in 1962, when the Bruins signed future superstar Bobby Orr, at the time only 14 years old. The terms of the deal saw the Bruins give Orr and his family a $10,000 signing bonus, a new car and add stucco to their home. Orr would finally join the Bruins on the ice as an 18-year-old, staying with the team for 10 seasons, winning eight straight (1968-75) Norris Trophies, as the NHL’s top defenseman.
Draft Pick: The Bruins greatest selection ever was taking Ray Bourque 8th overall in 1979. Perhaps the teams greatest draft class was their 2006 haul, when they collected Phil Kessel (5th overall), Milan Lucic (50th overall) and Brad Marchand (71st overall) in subsequent rounds. Boston also did very well landing Patrice Bergeron at 45th overall in 2003. Bergeron has gone on to win five Selke Trophies, as the league’s best defensive forward.
Holdouts: Phil Kessel’s 2009 holdout wasn’t allowed to extend too long, as he was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs after both sides failed to reach any agreement on a new contract over the off-season. The haul for dealing Kessel was very good, made even better when the Maple Leafs performed poorly the next two seasons, resulting in Boston drafting Tyler Seguin (2nd overall in 2010), Jared Knight (32nd overall in 2010) and Dougie Hamilton (9th overall in 2011).
Buyouts: Boston’s most costly buyout was Dennis Seidenberg, who they were forced to pay $4,666,667, while Seidenberg plied his trade with the New York Islanders for a couple campaigns. Seidenberg was a prominent member of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team and had been with the Bruins for seven seasons before being released in 2016. He retired in 2019.
Unique Game: The Bruins profile and success has resulted in the team playing many outdoor games, including the 2010, 2016, 2019 and 2023 Winter Classics versus the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively. They also battled the Flyers for one of the 2021 Outdoors at Lake Tahoe games. In 1956, Boston played exhibition games against local teams in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
Goal: Bobby Orr scored many spectacular goals over his career, but none compare to his Stanley Cup-clinching tally in 1970. It’s perhaps best remembered for Orr soaring through the air after scoring the overtime marker, arms raised in triumph, while being tripped by St. Louis Blues defenseman Noel Picard. I mean, the play is actually known as The Goal in hockey lore. What else could go here?
Fight/Brawl: It was a wild night in 1979, when members of the Bruins ended up in the stands of Madison Square Garden, fighting with fans of the New York Rangers. The chaos started at the end of the game, when Stan Jonathan was assaulted by a fan. Jonathan’s Boston teammates came to his aid, with the highlight of the melee being Mike Milbury beating a fan with their own shoe. The NHL installed higher glass in arenas, as a result of the incident.
Injury: Cam Neely’s knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ulf Samuelsson in the 1991 playoffs, was the first of many knee issues, resulting in Neely only playing 22 games over the next couple seasons and being forced into retirement at the age of 31. Neely’s attempts to return to the game were recognized with him being awarded the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance and dedication in 1994.
Penalty: Billy Coutu, nicknamed Wild Beaver, was banned from the NHL for life in 1927, after assaulting referee Jerry Laflamme. The incident occurred after the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup Finals to the Ottawa Senators. Coutu’s ban would be lifted in 1929, allowing him to play minor league hockey. He would also be reinstated into the NHL for the 1932-33 season, but never played in the league again.
Wildest Story: In 1948, the NHL banned Bruins forward Don Gallinger and former teammate Billy Taylor (traded to the New York Rangers that season, when management questioned his poor play) for life, after it was discovered the pair had gambled on their own teams. Gallinger and Taylor were reinstated in 1970, marking the longest ever suspensions in league history.
Blooper: The most famous Too Many Men on the Ice penalty in NHL history occurred in Game 7 of the 1979 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. With Boston up 4-3 over the Montreal Canadiens and a berth in the Finals looming, the Bruins were penalized late in the game. Montreal scored on the power play and won the game in overtime. Boston coach Don Cherry (who played his only NHL game with the Bruins) was later fired for the gaffe.
Miscellaneous: When Willie O’Ree suited up for the Bruins on January 18, 1958, he broke hockey’s black colour barrier, becoming the “Jackie Robinson of ice hockey”. All this, despite suffering an eye injury years earlier, that should have ended his career had he not kept it hidden. O’Ree was named the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador in 1998 and inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. His #22 jersey was retired by the Bruins in 2022.
Boston Bruins: Black and Gold
- 1.5 oz Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey
- 0.5 oz Triple Sec
- 0.5 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
- Top with Iced Tea
- Garnish with Lemon Slices
There are numerous recipes with this name. I went with the one that interested me the most and was used by a Boston pizzeria in support of the Bruins. I couldn’t find exact measurements for the drink, so built it as I wanted to. Some ingredients could be altered for a different mix.