With the NHL On Pause and the very real possibility that there could be no Stanley Cup awarded this season, it got me thinking, who the best Boston Bruins players to never hoist Lord Stanley with the Bruins are?
Of course, hall of fame defenseman Ray Bourque tops the list and luckily for him, he was able to move on to the Colorado Avalanche and hoist Lord Stanley in the last game of his storied 22-year career. Who comes after Bourque though?
We’ll get to that in the coming days but first let’s look at who, in the opinion of this 45-year-old humble puck scribe, was the best defenseman I ever saw play live.
1.) Ray Bourque – Bourque played 20 seasons for the Boston Bruins before being traded on March 6, 2000, in his 21st season as a Bruin.
The Ville Saint-Laurent, QC native had 395 goals and 1,111 assists in 1,518 games with the Bruins and finished his NHL career with 410 goals and 1,169 assists for 1,579 points in 1,612 games.
His 1,169 helpers are the fourth most assists in the history of the NHL. He also sits eleventh in points. His 1,111 assists and 1,506 points with the Bruins are the most in team history.
Bourque won the 1979 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year and went on to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman five times. He was selected for 19 All-Star games.
Bourque led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987-88 and 1989-90 with the Bruins losing both times to the Edmonton Oilers. They were swept by the Wayne-Gretzky-led Oilers in 1988 and then by the Mark Messier-led Oilers in 1990 behind a brilliant performance from Bill Ranford. Bourque and the Bruins would reach the Wales Conference Final in 1991 and 92 but were beat by the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins both times. They fell in six games in 1991 and then got swept in 1992.
Bourque would never make it out of the second round again as a Bruin and with the team’s 1999-2000 season headed for a spring without playoff hockey, Bourque requested a trade from Boston to a contender so he could go try and win his first Stanley Cup. On March 6, 2000, Bourque and forward Dave Andreychuk, were dealt to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forwards Brian Rolston and Samuel Pahlsson, defenseman Martin Grenier and a first round draft pick.
The Avalanche lost to the Dallas Stars in six games in the 2000 Western Conference Final but in his first full season with the Avalanche and final of his career, Bourque and the Av’s won the Stanley Cup in seven games over the then-defending Stanley Cup champions, the New Jersey Devils. Avalanche captain Joe Sakic immediately gave the Stanley Cup to Bourque and the longtime Bruin finally got to take his lap around the ice with Lord Stanley.