Toronto, Ontario, is home to the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF), and it also happens to be a city where the Boston Bruins love to play and win. As an Original Six franchise with deep roots in hockey history, it is no surprise that the Bruins have a long list of inductees with plaques in one of the most treasured museums in professional sports.
Hundreds of articles exist online about HHOF members and their achievements for enshrinement. Instead of duplicating those discussions, we aim to tackle this topic differently by examining how these careers intersected in Boston.
The Stanley Cup Teams
In the Bruins’ fifth year of existence, on March 29, 1929, the franchise won its first of six Stanley Cup championships. In a foreshadowing of things to come, that victorious team had a handful of future HHOFers in the lineup, with Cy Denney, Mickey MacKay, Cooney Weiland, Tiny Thompson, Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, and Harry Oliver all hoisting the Cup that spring. Shore and Clapper spent their entire careers in Beantown, with their #2 and #5 hanging in the rafters at TD Garden.
Despite playing in an era with less than 16 teams, it took the Bruins ten seasons to earn a second Stanley Cup parade. A few players from the 1929 team were still in the lineup; Clapper, Shore, Weiland, and Thompson, but the HHOF list expanded with names like Bill Cowley, Roy Conacher, Milt Schmidt, Bobby Bauer, Woody Dumart, and goalie Frank Brimsek. Interestingly, when anyone looks back at this period, it would be safe to say that the 1938-39 team is one of the best in club history, with ten future Hall of Famers wearing the Spoked B.
Two seasons later, in 1940-41, the Bruins would claim their second title in just three years. A few players from the previous championship remained on the roster, Cowley, Conacher, Bauer, Schmidt, Dumart, and Brimsek, earning the distinction of achieving multiple rings together. Meanwhile, Clapper set a franchise record with his third title, becoming the only player in Bruins history to win three Stanley Cup championships with the team.
The Bruins went through the entire Original Six Era (1942-1967) without another Stanley Cup championship and only made their way to the top after expansion took place in 1967. Twenty-nine years after their last banner, the Bruins reclaimed the Cup with a lineup that featured four future HHOFers, Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, John Bucyk, and goalie Gerry Cheevers. Together this group of players would add to their trophy case with another title in 1972, becoming just the second set of teammates to win two rings in three years with the franchise. Sadly, the Bruins would not win another Stanley Cup for 39 years, despite many Hall of Famers skating in black and gold.
Their most recent championship, 2011, will be an exciting story to follow for years to come. As the team celebrated its sixth title, the lineup featured only one HHOF member, Mark Recchi, who won his third championship and retired after the parade. What makes this particular team intriguing to watch is how many potential HHOFers were in the lineup. Former captain Zdeno Chara and current captain Patrice Bergeron will be first-ballot inductees, meaning the list of teammates will grow to three players. Furthermore, that season’s Conn Smythe winner, Tim Thomas, has an outside shot of earning enshrinement someday, along with Brad Marchand and David Krejci, who are still trying to build their resumes.
Ray Bourque’s Tenure with the Greats
Ray Bourque began his NHL career in October 1979. During his 21 seasons with the black & gold, he played with nine of the team’s HHOF-associated members. Bourque skated with Cheevers, who returned for a second tour of duty with the club in 1976 and retired in 1980. He was one of the last links to the next generation from the 1972 championship team when he hung up his skates.
Jean Ratelle joined the team in 1975 after a trade from New York and spent six seasons in Boston before retiring in 1981. Another superstar, Brad Park, came to the team in 1975 and became the last HHOF from the 1970s Bourque would play alongside. In 1980, goalie Rogie Vachon made his way to town and spent two seasons with the club before leaving in 1982. Interestingly, the last HHOF player Bourque played with in the 1980s was Guy Lapointe, who played 45 games in 1983-84.
One of the team’s most incredible power forwards, Cam Neely, arrived in 1986, helping the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Final in 1988 and 1990. He spent ten years scoring goals, thanks to passes from Adam Oates, who played six years in Boston from 1991-1997. After their departures, Bourque teamed up with 500-goal scorer Joe Mullen, who stopped by for one season (1995-96), and 600-goal scorer Dave Andreychuk in 1999-00. Sadly, Bourque’s time in New England ended after a trade to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000, including Andreychuk.
Players Who Finished Distinguished Careers in Boston
The Bruins are associated with 55 players in the HHOF, with some playing most of their careers in Boston. Whether they carved their legacies with a B on their sweater or achieved success elsewhere, they all share a lineage in black and gold.
Interestingly, some players came to town and, whether they stayed for the long haul or just a cup of coffee, finished their HOF careers with the franchise. However, these players never won the Cup or played most of their time with other HOFers. The first player with this distinction was Sprague Cleghorn, who played 109 games over three seasons from 1925-1928.
The list expanded in 1936-37 to include Sylvio Mantha (four games) and Bun Cook, 44 games, before hanging up their skates. A few seasons later, in 1944, Busher Jackson retired after a lengthy career and three seasons with the team, and shortly after, Babe Pratt joined the list after suiting up for 31-games in 1945-46.
Fern Flaman‘s time with the Bruins spanned over two different stints, 1944-1951 and 1954-1961, resulting in 683 games. He became the second to last entry for this list since Tom Johnson wraps up this section with his retirement in 1965 after two seasons and 121 games.
Only four players have passed through town in the 22 years since Bourque’s departure, the last true Bruins Hall of Famer. There was legendary defenseman Paul Coffey, who skated in just 18 games in 2000-01, before another iconic defenceman of his era, Brian Leetch, played 61 games in 2005-06. As mentioned earlier, Recchi played three seasons from 2008-2011, winning the Cup in his final season, a few campaigns before Jarome Iginla would come to town for the 2013-14 season.
The Original Misfits
So far, in this article, we have covered the players linked together forever in one way or another. Amazingly, there is still 14 Hall of Famers we still need to mention. This group is the true definition of misfits since they are part of franchise history but don’t have a place like many others. To pay respects to their careers, we broke down their Bruins’ accomplishments by games played.
Leo Boivin played 12 seasons in Boston, suiting up for 717 games. As of 2022, he is one of just six players to play over 700 with the team and earn a plaque in the HOF. One of his teammates, Bill Quackenbush, wore the Spoked B for 461 games and ranked 16th amongst his HOF peers in games played with the club.
Meanwhile, Marty Barry sits in a class all by himself as the only Bruins’ HOF member who appears in 279 games. Everyone around him on the list suited up for more than 300 or barely cracked the 150 mark.
Four players played over 100 games with the club and became inductees; they were Nels Stewart (153), Allan Stanley (129), Babe Siebert (125), and legendary goalie Terry Sawchuk (102).
Finally, the last few players on the list of 55 had distinguished careers before or after their time with the Bruins. Everyone left played in less than 100 games with the franchise, meaning they carved out their legacies in other cities; however, they wound up together in Toronto. These names include Frank Frederickson (80 games), Harry Lumley (77), Bernie Parent (57), Hooley Smith (44), Billy Burch (25), Duke Keats (17), and the man who invented the goalie mask, Jacques Plante (eight).
Of course, no Hall of Fame piece would be complete without mentioning Jaromir Jagr, who played with the Bruins for just one year in 2012-13. The game’s second-highest scorer of all-time helped the Bruins back into the 2013 Stanley Cup Final as he chased his third ring. When the time comes, he may get an entire section to himself at the Hall whenever he decides to retire from professional hockey, increasing the Bruins’ list of inductees.
When hockey players put on their skates for the first time, they dream about playing in their first NHL game. The main goal is always to make it to that level, but after that, the focus shifts to winning a Stanley Cup and getting their name etched on the Silver Chalice for all time. If everything works out and they find success, someday their name and number may hang from the rafters, and their HOF plaque will live on forever for generations to see how unique their path in the league was.