July 13, 2013

Will Bergeron finish career as the greatest lifelong Bruin?

By Jesse Connolly


Patrice Bergeron signed an eight-year deal that'll keep him in Boston through the 2021-22 season. (Getty Images)
 

With a new eight-year deal that'll take him through his 37th birthday, Patrice Bergeron has set himself up to be a Bruin for the entirety of his NHL career.

Throughout the club's nearly-90-year history, only a select few have been able to achieve greatness while sporting the Spoked-B for the duration of their pro playing days.

As much as we like to subconsciously omit their tenures outside of the Hub of Hockey, the players widely considered to be the all-time greatest Bruins suited up for more than one squad in the National Hockey League. Bobby Orr was a Blackhawk, Ray Bourque left for Denver, Johnny Bucyk broke into the league with the Wings. Tiny Thompson was traded during the twilight of his career to Detroit. Even the incomparable Eddie Shore didn't close out his career in Boston, playing ten games for the New York Americans before retiring.

Now, in a "cost certainty" world where handsomely-paid stars can go from being a team's savior one day to a cap casulaty the next, longevity with one team isn't as prevalent as it used to be.

Should he get his wish and remain a Bruin for life, where will Bergeron -- who already has a Selke Trophy, a Cup win and 433 points -- rank among those that played every last one of their NHL games for the Black and Gold? Given all that he's accomplished to date, pegging him as the future leader of this group doesn't seem far-fetched. For now, here's how I'd rank the top five: 

1. MILT SCHMIDT (1936-55)

The center of the iconic Kraut Line will forever be known as Mr. Bruin. He shined as a player, coach and GM and has remained involved with the team for nearly 80 years.

Stats: 229 goals, 346 assists, 575 points in 776 games

Accolades:
Four-time All-Star, Hart Trophy winner (1950-51), Two-time Stanley Cup winner (1939, 1941), Hockey Hall of Fame (1961)

2. TERRY O'REILLY

The Tasmanian Devil led the Lunch Pail Gang to success during the '70s with his blue-collar style, beating opponents with his fists, his work ethic and underrated scoring touch.

Stats: 204 goals, 402 assists, 606 points in 891 games

Accolades: Two-time All-Star, Boston's all-time leader with 2,097 career penalty minutes

3. TIM THOMAS (2002-12)

Until he signs a deal and plays in an NHL game for a team other than the Bruins, Thomas will deservingly hold a high spot on this list.

Stats: 196 wins, 2.48 GAA, .921 Sv%, 31 shutouts in 378 games

Accolades: Vezina Trophy winner (2009, 2011), Conn Smythe Trophy winner (2011), Stanley Cup winner (2011),

4. DIT CLAPPER (1927-47)

Known as Dit but born as Aubrey, Clapper spent a nearly-unfathomable 20 seasons in a Bruins uniform.

Stats: 228 goals, 246 assists, 474 points in 833 games

Accolades: Six NHL All-Star teams, three Stanley Cups (1929, 1939, 1941), Hockey Hall of Fame (1947)

5. WAYNE CASHMAN (1965-83)

The eight-time 20-goal scorer was the last active NHLer to have played during the Original Six era when he retired.

Stats: 277 goals, 516 assists, 793 points in 1,027 games

Accolades: Two-time Cup winner (1970, 1972)

Do you think Bergeron will surpass these five legends? Should he have earned a spot on this list already? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com