In a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on November 2nd, Bergeron reached a very exclusive all-time Bruins club. After setting up an easy one-timer for Marchand, Bergeron eclipsed the 500 assist mark as a Bruin. Here are all six Bruins players to have passed the milestone.
Patrice Bergeron – 503 Assists
Bergeron was drafted 45th overall in 2003. He finished his rookie season with 39 points, 23 of those assists. After the 2004-2005 NHL lockout, Bergeron returned at a high level. He led the Bruins with a career-high 31 goals, 42 assists for a total of 73 points. The emergence of Bergeron also allowed for the Bruins to move away from Thorton, as Patrice was considered a better leader while also being younger. After another great season with 70 points and 48 assists, he struggled with injuries. The first of which was a nagging shoulder injury, before a pair of serious head injuries. This resulted in him playing 74 games over the next two seasons, yet still managed 35 assists in that time.
In 2009, Bergeron returned to full health, producing 52 points with 33 assists. He would follow that up with improved assist numbers in each of the next two years, 35 in 2010 and 42 in 2011. After a short 2012 season in which he managed only 22 assists, the Bruins still rewarded Patrice with an eight-year, $52 million contract extension. His play has proved why he deserved the large contract. Since the extension, he has not had under 32 assists in a season, a combined 212 assists in six seasons. While already at age 34, Bergeron could still certainly move up one or two places in the Bruins all-time assist leaderboards before he hangs up his skates.
Wayne Cashman – 516 Assists
After a slow first two seasons in the NHL, Cashman finally broke onto the scene at age 23. He had 23 assists out of his 31 points, while only playing 51 games. After a 26 assist campaign in 1969, Wayne exploded for 58 assists in his fifth season, third season with a major role. This was the 5th most assists in the league, and shockingly the fifth-most on the team because the entire top five of the league leaderboard for assists were taken up by Bruins players. Three of those four teammates ahead of him will actually appear on this list.
A second explosion in productivity would occur three years later. He would set up a total of 59 goals (his career-high), and once again placed fifth in league-wide assists. This time he would be behind only two of his teammates, which is still an amazing feat by the Bruins as a whole. That 1973 season would also be his first and only All Star selection, thanks to his career highs in points, assists, and goals. Like Bergeron, Cashman would continue to remain consistent from an assists perspective, never logging in less than 20 assists until his final season. He stands as an important figure in Bruins’s history, as he was crucial to bringing home two Stanley Cups.
Phil Esposito – 553 Assists
Not only is he fourth all-time in assists for the Bruins, but Phil is also 23rd all-time in league history. He didn’t start out in Boston, as he was traded to the Bruins after his fourth year in the NHL in 1967. He started off strong, producing 35 goals and 49 assists, the latter of which lead the league, in his first year as an All Star. Just one year later, he became the FIRST NHL player to score 100 points in a season with a record 126. This was thanks in part to a league-leading 77 assists, which was more than the games he played (74).
He would fall one point shy of 100 in 1970, before passing that mark in each of the next five seasons. In that time he would place 5th once, 2nd three times, and first once for assists in the league. After that, he would never reach the 100 mark again, nor reach the top-ten in NHL assists. Not that it would have mattered for this list, as he would only last one more year as a Bruin. He was traded away due to his refusal to take a reduced role, as he aged since he was 33 and beginning to regress. He left the Bruins as second in goals, fourth in assists, and third in points.
Esposito was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. Three years later, in 1987, his #7 jersey was retired by the Bruins, where the then-wearer Ray Bourque (who will appear on this list later), pulled off his #7 jersey to reveal his new number 77 to signify him giving the number back to Phil.
Bobby Orr – 624 Assists
Orr joined the Bruins in 1966, at the young age of 18. For the season, Orr scored 13 goals and 28 assists, one of the best rookie seasons in NHL history by a defenseman at that point in history. His knee injury issues began revealing itself in the 1967-68 season, where he only played 46 games with 20 assists. In 1968–69, Orr scored 21 goals on the season, breaking the record for a defenceman, with a total of 64 points to set a new point record for a defenceman as well. The next year, Orr shattered the prior years total, almost doubling his scoring while getting 120 points. He lead the league in assists for the first time with 87, a thing that will continue for the next two years.
The following season in 1970-71, the Bruins both individually and as a team destroyed many league records. Orr himself finished second in league scoring with 139 points, thirteen points behind teammate Esposito, while setting a record that still stands for points in a season by a defenceman. Orr’s 102 assists set a league record that would not be broken until Wayne Gretzky a decade later. Orr was rewarded with a five-year contract for $200,000 a year, the NHL’s first million-dollar contract, in the offseason. The next season saw Orr once again second in the scoring race to Esposito, with his assists dropping to a still insane 80. For the next four years, he would battle through injuries and add an additional 264 assists to his career total. He left the Bruins in 1976, thanks to issues partially due to his manager.
John Bucyk – 794 Assists
Like Phil, Bucyk didn’t start out with the B’s. He began with the Detroit Red Wings, before getting traded in 1957 after two years in the NHL. He was only in the top five for assists once, instead acquiring his 794 assists through the sheer amount of years played (23). Another thing to note is that he was constantly injured, as he played 1,540 out of a possible 1,886 regular-season games. Regardless, he started showing off his assist skills as early as his second year with Boston. He had 36 assists, ninth-best in the league, as well as 24 goals in only 69 games. He would increase his assist career-high three seasons later, hitting the 40 mark which was good for 7th in the league.
He would continue this the following year, with a tally of 39 assists (10th best in the NHL). Because of a massive increase of offense league-wide, it would be another eight years until he was back on the leaderboard. By then he was 35, yet still was selected for the All Star game because of a monstrous 51 goals (2nd in NHL) and 65 assists (3rd in NHL). His assist numbers would remain in the 40s and 50s until his age 41 season, where he would play in only 49 games yet still accumulate 23 assists. After one more year in which he played in only 53 games, his Hall of Fame career came to a close.
Ray Borque – 1,111 Assists
Arguably the greatest Bruin of all time, Borque is 4th in NHL history for assists. He also has quite a distance between Bucyk, with 317 assists more than his fellow superstar. In just his first season he collected 48 en route to his first out of 19 All Star selections. Despite playing around only 65 games in each of the next three years, he still managed around 50 assists per year. When he finally was healthy in year five he had 96 points, 65 coming from assists. Those 65 assists would put him top ten for the first time, at 9th place.
Thus a terrific streak began, from 1983-1997, if you excluded seasons in which he played under 70 games, he would have over 50 assists. At this exact time he would also be an All Star in every single year, win the Norris Trophy five times, and the Clancy once. He was top ten in assists seven times, getting as high as 2nd place behind Wayne Gretzky. 1998 was his last great season, where at age 38, despite being practically done, he requested a trade in hopes of winning a Stanley Cup.
So during the next season, in which he had a solid 38 points in 65 games for the Bruins, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. He put up solid numbers in his one full season with Colorado and was an important contributor to their Stanley Cup victory. Borque subsequently retired right after he achieved that final goal. While he didn’t win a championship in his time here, he holds the team record for games played, assists, points, and is fourth in goals.