September 16, 2012

Original Six: Bruins' greatest one-hit wonders

By Jesse Connolly

From disappointing prospects to reclamation projects to wily vets eons past their prime, there have been plenty of forgettable stints by players who sported the Spoked-B for only a single season. But among the 395 men whose tenures in Boston were of the one-and-done variety, a select few shined brighter than all the rest before moving on to their next venture.

6. BRYAN BERARD
2002-03 

After nearly losing his right eye due to a high stick in March 2000 and missing the following season, Berard (Woonsocket, R.I.) made a miraculous comeback but posted disappointing numbers (23 points) for the Rangers in 2001-02. He then signed on with Boston, where his offensive skills once again flourished.

Berard notched 38 points, leading Bruins blueliners in scoring by a wide margin (Nick Boynton was second with 24). He placed 19th among NHL defensemen with 10 goals and 24th in points. Despite his strong performance, GM Mike O’Connell let the then-26-year-old walk at season’s end. Berard finished eighth among NHL rearguards with 47 points in 2003-04 for a brutal Blackhawks squad and also won the Masterton Trophy.

5. GLEN METROPOLIT
2007-08 

Upon losing Patrice Bergeron to a season-ending concussion in October 2007, the Bruins were heading up a certain creek without a paddle. Beyond Marc Savard, the Bruins were thin down the middle, with two young Czechs in David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotka and a journeyman in Glen Metropolit tasked with filling the void.

Metropolit, a well-traveled plugger, came up big for first-year coach Claude Julien’s squad. “Metro” tied his career-high with 33 points, and his versatility made him extremely valuable. He slotted in on various lines, ranked second among forwards in shorthanded ice time, tied for the team lead with five game-winners and held his own on faceoffs. He was a poor-man’s Bergeron — exactly what the Bruins really needed that season.

4. MICHAEL NYLANDER
2003-04

A slick, Swedish setup man, Nylander was acquired from the Capitals in March 2004, as the Bruins got in go-for-it mode at the deadline, also reeling in Washington blueliner Sergei Gonchar. Nylander came in and gave the team great secondary production from the center position. After notching 12 points in 15 regular-season games, he came up huge in the postseason, picking up six points in six games, which trailed only linemate Sergei Samsonov for the team lead.

Unfortunately, Boston’s top guns (namely Joe Thornton) didn’t do squat, leading to the heavily favored Bruins being bounced by Montreal in the first round. The Bruins didn’t bring Nylander back after the lockout, like Gonchar. He went on to register 162 points over the next two seasons for the Rangers.

3. BUTCH GORING 
1984-85

Waived by the Islanders midway through the 1984-85 season, Goring had just two goals in 29 games and appeared to be toast after a lengthy, successful NHL career. An 11-time, 20-goal scorer, the then-35-year-old was claimed by the Bruins and was superb down the stretch.

Goring rediscovered his scoring touch with the Black and Gold, tallying 13 times and adding 21 assists to finish with 34 points in 39 games for Boston.

The four-time Cup champ with the Islanders added a goal and an assist in five playoff tilts. Goring then spent his next 93 games behind the Bruins’ bench, going 44-36-13 as the team’s head coach before being replaced by Terry O’Reilly 13 games into the 1986-87 season.

2. RON GRAHAME
1977-78

While his son, John, grew up and became one of the most maddening goalies in Bruins history, Grahame atoned for it in the grand scheme of things, as the Bruins parlayed his spectacular rookie season into the first-round pick they’d use to select legendary defenseman Ray Bourque.

After four years in the WHA, Grahame came to the NHL and was dy-no-mite. He went 26-6-7, ranking eighth in the league in wins and first among rookie netminders to help Boston win the Adams Division. During the ’78 run to the finals, he was superb in relief of Gerry Cheevers (2-1, 2.08 GAA).

The next fall, Grahame was the odd man out and dealt to Los Angeles. He went on to win just 24 more games, retiring in 1981.

1. MIROSLAV SATAN
2009-10

A veteran of more than 1,000 NHL games, Satan made Boston his new hockey home in January 2010. After being a steady contributor down the stretch (nine goals in 38 games), the Slovakian winger turned in an extremely clutch playoff performance that won’t soon be forgotten.

The former Sabre tortured his old team, racking up five points in a first-round upset that ended with Satan scoring the game-winner. He kept the good times rolling into the second round until the team collectively went ice-cold and Philly staged its historic comeback. Nevertheless, even after Boston’s Cup win in 2011, “Hail Satan” shirts remain popular throughout the crowd at TD Garden, where “Miro the Hero” and his jubilant goal celebrations always will be fondly remembered.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com