BOSTON, MA – If there’s anybody who knows of love’s carnage, it’s the holder of scars from two unsuccessful marriages… like yours truly. While it may be appropriate to say Happy Valentine’s Day to a loved one today, I prefer a salute to My Bloody Valentines— thy first and last true love, the NHL’s Boston Bruins.
Roses are Black,
Violets are Gold.
Punch one of ours
And we’ll knock your ass cold.
– Lord Cheesy Bruin
It started with Robert Gordon Orr (Bobby Orr) of Parry Sound, Ontario. He was, is and always will be the greatest hockey player of all time. End of story. Screw Gretzky, f**k Lemieux and all due respect to Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, they all lack the skill set of #4. The best defensive defensemen of his time was a one-man penalty-kill, the best offensive player of his time and, oh yeah, he had 47 fighting majors in a career shortened by knee injuries – compared to a combined 39 fights by the three HoFers mentioned above in 4,669 games (seven times the amount of games if you’re counting). Put on the foil and watch Orr on Hockeyfights.com.
Johnny “Pie” McKenzie, Wayne Cashman, and Derek Sanderson bridged the gap to Terry O’Reilly in the early to mid-70’s and once he took his place on the fisticuffs mantle, which he didn’t give it up until retirement in 1985… when he still amassed 168 penalty minutes in 63 games. If it weren’t for “Taz” and his mates, the Broad Street Bullies would have run roughshod over the NHL the same way the fictitious Charlestown Chiefs ruled the Federal League under Reg Dunlop’s tutelage. O’Reilly, whose vintage throwback #24 shirt I wear today, took on the likes of Shultz, Gillies, Tiger Williams, to great success and always had his mates backs even to those unruly jerks at MSG in late December back in ’79–oh what a night. He was also a hockey player like Pete Rose was a baseball player.
Stan Jonathan was pound-for-pound the best fighter the NHL has ever seen. John Wensink was bat-shit crazy and Lyndon Byers was an outright goon when every team had a player in the 300-range in penalty minutes. There were the Chris Nilans (not a true Bruin), P.J. Stocks and Marty McSorelys during the lean years until Black and Gold fortunes began to change during the end of the Jumbo Joe Thornton years. But there was another Thornton, Shawn, that lasted longer in Boston and helped the Bruins in the locker room and on the ice, and is doing so now for the Florida Panthers. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 due to one of the better fourth lines in the sport for those years. And he too could fight with and against the best of them. and still does at this point of his two-time Stanley Cup-winning career.
Right now the Bruins are in a re-build but have the likes of two fan favorites who pack in a wallop; Adam McQuaid and a rookie along the lines of the recently traded Milan Lucic in Tyler Randell. Every team’s fans have had their favorite punchers past and present. These are mine. Happy Froggin’ Valentine’s Day.
Come back tomorrow with a man whose heart is so big he’s pinch-hitting for ski bum DJ Eberle, West Coast Craig.