Bruins Legend Reflects on Career, Talks Stanley Cupby Jordan Leandre June 1, 2019 0 comments
Chief. Number nine. Two-time Stanley Cup winner. Just a few ways to describe one of the greatest hockey players of all-time. Johnny Bucyk.
The Hall of Famer spent 21 of his 23 NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins, where he potted 545 goals, 794 assists, and brought two of the franchise’s six Stanley Cups to the city of Boston.
But what many may not know about Bucyk is that he actually spent the first two seasons of his professional career as an understudy to another hockey legend: Gordie Howe.
“Gordie [Howe] was a right winger, so I just watched him,” Bucyk told Prime Time Sports Talk. “When I was in Detroit, I didn’t get too much ice time, and I spent a lot of time on the bench. So I just kept my eyes on Gordie.”
Bucyk left that Original Six team for another prior to the 1957 season and eventually was joined by Bobby Orr in 1966.
After that, the rest was literal history. The two were key contributors to a team that won two Stanley Cup titles in a three-year span.
But they were not alone alone in doing so. Bucyk made sure to pay homage to the fans for their role in both of those Cup runs.
“The fans give you almost like an extra player on the ice,” Bucyk said. “They get into it. And especially here. The fans; they’re the greatest. I mean, the fans have always been great in my 62 years here in Boston.”
A rowdy bunch that saw but did not know 1972 would be Bucyk and Orr’s final Cup. However, they were in attendance when the man they called “Chief” netted goal no. 500 in his illustrious NHL career.
A goal that came against the team that the current Bruins now face in the Stanley Cup Final 44 years later. Something that Bucyk noted, which made this goal that much sweeter.
“Getting the Stanley Cup in 1970 was probably the most biggest highlight of my career,” Bucyk said of his favorite Cup win. “That’s the one that’s gonna stick in your mind as long as you live.”
When asked if he had a prediction for this series, Bucyk laughed and said, “Not this one, no.”
He did commend St. Louis for having a good team, and did give the indication that he could see this being a long series.
“Goaltending is gonna be a big factor,” Bucyk said.
It has through the first three rounds, plus one game for the Bruins and net-minder Tuukka Rask, whose .940 save percentage and 1.85 goals against average are both leading the NHL playoffs. A huge fuss was made over the prior two weeks the Bruins had without playing a game.
People wondered if the team would be rusty due to layover. Bucyk was not buying it.
“I don’t think it’s rust,” Bucyk said. “You keep yourself conditioned while you have a layoff.”
That sentiment seemed to hold true. The Bruins were the better team for much of the first 21 minutes, even with St. Louis scoring the first two goals. But the Bruins responded, as they have all postseason, and scored four unanswered goals to take Game 1 4-2 –– before falling 3-2 on a game-winning goal by Carl Gunnarsson in Game 2.
If anybody was to know the ups and downs of a playoff layover, there’s no one better to ask in Bruins history than Bucyk. A man who was not done making history when his career ended. On March 13, 1980, he became one of now 11 men to have their number retired by the the Black and Gold.
“To have your number retired. It is a big honor. I was very thrilled and excited about it. And it was one of many tributes I have had and of course this one is right there at the top,” Bucyk said.