New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a professional ice hockey team based in the New York metropolitan area. They are members of the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League; the team splits its home games between Barclays Center in the borough of Brooklyn and Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders are one of three NHL franchises in the New York metropolitan area, along with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers, their fan base resides on Long Island; the team was founded in 1972 as part of the NHL's maneuvers to keep a team from rival league World Hockey Association out of the newly built Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in suburban Uniondale, New York. After two years of building up the team's roster, they found instant success by securing fourteen straight playoff berths starting with their third season; the Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cup championships between 1980 and 1983, the seventh of eight dynasties recognized by the NHL in its history.
Their 19 consecutive playoff series wins between 1980 and 1984 is a feat that remains unparalleled in the history of professional sports. Following the team's dynasty era, the franchise ran into problems with money and management, an aging arena, low attendance, their woes were reflected on the ice, as the team has not won a division title since 1987–88, went 22 seasons without winning a playoff series prior to the 2016 playoffs. After years of failed attempts to rebuild or replace Nassau Coliseum in suburban Long Island, the Islanders relocated to Barclays Center following the 2014–15 season. In the 2018–19 season the Islanders started splitting their home games between the Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum until their new arena is opened in 2021. Eight former members of the Islanders have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, seven of whom—Al Arbour, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Bill Torrey, Bryan Trottier—were members of all four Cup-winning teams. Pat LaFontaine is the most recent inductee, having been honored in 2003.
In the fall of 1972, the emerging World Hockey Association planned to place its New York team, the New York Raiders, in Nassau County's brand-new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. County officials wanted to keep the Raiders out. William Shea, who had helped bring Major League Baseball's New York Mets to the area a decade earlier, was enlisted to bring an NHL team to Long Island. Shea found NHL president Clarence Campbell to be receptive, the Islanders bid faced opposition from the New York Rangers, who did not want additional competition in the New York area. Campbell and Shea persuaded the Rangers' owners, Madison Square Garden, to reconsider. Rangers' president Bill Jennings weighed cons. Another local NHL team would be compelled to pay the Rangers compensation for sharing their NHL territory, while a WHA rival would not be obligated to pay the Rangers anything. Remembering the crucial role the New York Jets had played in ensuring the success of the American Football League just a few years earlier as a challenger of the National Football League, Jennings ended up helping to bring a new NHL team into town.
Despite expanding to 14 teams just two years prior, the NHL hastily awarded a Long Island-based franchise to clothing manufacturer Roy Boe, owner of the American Basketball Association's New York Nets, on November 8, 1971. The terms included $6 million franchise fee plus a $5 million territorial fee to the Rangers. An expansion franchise was given to Atlanta to keep the schedule balanced and to prevent the WHA from entering the growing market at the newly-built Omni Coliseum; the franchise chose New York Islanders as its name, although many expected it to use the "Long Island Ducks", after the Eastern Hockey League team that played from 1959 to 1973. The team was soon nicknamed the "Isles" by the local newspapers; the Islanders' arrival doomed the Raiders, who played in Madison Square Garden under difficult lease terms and were forced to move to Cherry Hill, New Jersey in the middle of their second season. On February 14, 1972, Bill Torrey, executive vice president of the NHL's California Golden Seals, was named as the team's general manager.
The Islanders secured veteran forward Ed Westfall, defenseman Gerry Hart, goaltender Billy Smith in the 1972 Expansion Draft, along with junior hockey stars Billy Harris, Lorne Henning, Bobby Nystrom in the 1972 Amateur Draft. Soon after the draft, Phil Goyette was named as the team's first head coach, however he was fired halfway through the season and replaced with Earl Ingarfield and assistant coach Aut Erickson. Unlike most other expansion teams' general managers, Torrey made few trades for veteran players in the early years, as he was committed to building the team through the draft. Torrey stated, "I told the owners that we're not going to beat this team next door by taking the castoffs from others teams. We'd have to develop our own stars." Before the season began, Westfall was named the team's first captain. The Islanders' first win came on October 1972, in a 3 -- 2 game against the Los Angeles Kings. In the team's first season, young players such as Smith and Henning were given chances to prove themselves in the NHL.
The young and inexperienced expansion team, posted a record of 12–60–6, setting an NHL record for most losses and worst overall record in a season. A rare highlight occurred on January 18, 1973, when they defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins 9–7. Finishing last in the standings that season, they received the right to selec
The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League; the team was established in 1970, along with the Vancouver Canucks, when the league expanded to 14 teams. They have played at KeyBank Center since 1996. Prior to that, the Buffalo Sabres played at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium from the start of the franchise in 1970; the Sabres are owned by Terry Pegula, who purchased the club in 2011. The team has twice advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 and to the Dallas Stars in 1999; the best known line in team history is The French Connection, which consisted of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert. All three players have had their sweater numbers retired and a statue erected in their honor at KeyBank Center in 2012; the Sabres, along with the Vancouver Canucks, joined the NHL in the 1970–71 season. Their first owners were Seymour H. Knox III and Northrup Knox, scions of a family long prominent in Western New York and grandsons of the co-founders of the Woolworth's variety store chain.
On the team's inaugural board of directors were Robert E. Rich, Jr. the owner of the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team. Buffalo had a history of professional hockey. Wanting a name other than "bison", the Knoxes commissioned a name-the-team contest. With names like "Mugwumps", "Buzzing Bees" and "Flying Zeppelins" being entered, the winning choice, "Sabres", was chosen because Seymour Knox felt a sabre, a weapon carried by a leader, could be effective on offense and defense; the Knoxes tried twice before to get an NHL team, first when the NHL expanded in 1967, again when they attempted to purchase the Oakland Seals with the intent of moving them to Buffalo. Their first attempt was thwarted when Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney persuaded his horse racing friends James and Bruce Norris to select Pittsburgh over Buffalo, while the second attempt was due to the NHL not wanting an expansion market to give up on a team so soon. At the time of their creation, the Sabres exercised their option to create their own AHL farm team, the Cincinnati Swords.
Former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and head coach Punch Imlach was hired in the same capacity with the Sabres. The year the Sabres debuted was an important year for major league sports in Buffalo. In addition to the Sabres' debut, the Buffalo Bills joined the National Football League, the National Basketball Association's Buffalo Braves began to play, sharing Memorial Auditorium with the Sabres; the city of Buffalo went from having no teams in the established major professional sports leagues to three in one off-season, a situation that proved to be unsustainable. Between the Braves and the Sabres, the Sabres would prove to be by far the more successful of the two. Subsequent owners of the Braves, in a series of convoluted transactions tied to the ABA–NBA merger, moved the team out of Buffalo; when the Sabres debuted as an expansion team, they took the ice to Aram Khachaturian's Armenian war dance, "Sabre Dance". The song has been associated with the team as an unofficial anthem since.
It is played between periods and after goals. The consensus was that first pick in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft would be junior phenomenon Gilbert Perreault. Either the Sabres or the Canucks would get the first pick, to be determined with the spin of a roulette wheel. Perreault was available to the Sabres and Canucks as this was the first year the Montreal Canadiens did not have a priority right to draft Quebec-born junior players; the Canucks were allocated numbers 1–10 on the wheel, while the Sabres had 11–20. When league president Clarence Campbell spun the wheel, he thought the pointer landed on one. While Campbell was congratulating the Vancouver delegation, Imlach asked Campbell to check again; as it turned out, the pointer was on 11 handing Perreault to the Sabres. Perreault scored 38 goals in his rookie season of 1970–71, at the time a record for most goals scored by a NHL rookie, he received the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. Despite Perreault's play, the Sabres finished well out of playoff contention.
In the team's second season, 1971–72, rookie Rick Martin, drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in 1971, Rene Robert, acquired in a late-season trade from the Pittsburgh Penguins, joined Perreault and would become one of the league's top forward lines in the 1970s. Martin broke Perreault's record at once with 44 rookie goals, they were nicknamed "The French Connection" after the movie of the same name and in homage to their French-Canadian roots. The Sabres made the playoffs for the first time in 1972–73, just the team's third year in the league, but lost in the quarterfinals in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. After a subpar year in 1974 that saw them miss the playoffs, the Sabres tied for the best record in the NHL in the 1974–75 regular season. Buffalo advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in
The Dallas Stars are a professional ice hockey team based in Dallas. They are members of the Central Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the team was founded during the 1967 NHL expansion as the Minnesota North Stars, based in Bloomington, Minnesota. Before the beginning of the 1978–79 NHL season, the team merged with the Cleveland Barons after the league granted them permission due to each team's respective financial struggles; the franchise relocated to Dallas for the 1993–94 NHL season. The Stars played out of Reunion Arena from their relocation until 2001, when the team moved less than 1.5 miles into the American Airlines Center. The Stars have won eight division titles in Dallas, two Presidents' Trophies as the top regular season team in the league, the Western Conference championship twice, in 1998–99, the Stanley Cup. Joe Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs that year. In 2000, Neal Broten was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 2009, Brett Hull became the first Dallas Stars player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, followed by Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk in 2011 and Mike Modano in 2014. In 2010, brothers Derian and Kevin Hatcher were inducted to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame; the Minnesota North Stars began play in 1967 as part of the league's six-team expansion. Home games were played at the newly constructed Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. Successful both on the ice and at the gate, the North Stars fell victim to financial problems after several poor seasons in the mid-1970s. In 1978, the North Stars were purchased by the owners of the Cleveland Barons, the Gund brothers, George III and Gordon. With both teams on the verge of folding, the league permitted the two failing franchises to merge; the merged team continued as the Minnesota North Stars, but assumed the Barons' place in the Adams Division in order to balance out the divisions, while the Seals/Barons franchise records were retired.
The merger brought with it a number of talented players, the North Stars were revived—they reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1981, where they lost in five games to the New York Islanders. However, by the early 1990s, declining attendance and the inability to secure a new downtown revenue-generating arena led ownership to request permission to move the team to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990; the league rejected the request and instead agreed to award an expansion franchise, the San Jose Sharks, to the Gund brothers. The North Stars were sold to a group of investors that were looking to place a team in San Jose, although one of the group's members, Norman Green, would gain control of the team. In the following season, the Minnesota North Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the 1991 season, the North Stars suffered through poor profitability; the team's fortunes were further impeded by the terms of the settlement with the Gund brothers, in which they were permitted to take a number of North Stars players to San Jose.
New owner Norman Green explored the possibility of moving the team to Anaheim, however the league decided instead to place the expansion Mighty Ducks there in 1992. In their final two seasons in Minnesota, the team adopted a new logo which omitted the "North" from "North Stars", leading many fans to anticipate the team heading south. In 1993, amid further attendance woes and bitter personal controversy, Green obtained permission from the league to move the team to Dallas, for the 1993–94 season, with the decision announced on March 10, 1993. Green was convinced by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach that Dallas would be a suitable market for an NHL team; the league, to quell the controversy, promised the fans of Minnesota a return in the future with a new franchise. The Stars would move into Reunion Arena, built in 1980, the downtown arena occupied by the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks. With the league changing the names of the conferences and divisions, the newly relocated Stars were placed in the Central Division of the Western Conference, played their first game in Dallas on October 5, 1993, a 6–4 win against the Detroit Red Wings.
In that game, Neal Broten scored the first Stars goal in Dallas. Dallas was an experiment for the league. At that time, the Stars would be one of the three southern-most teams in the league, along with the newly-created Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, as the leagues's first real ventures into southern non-traditional hockey markets. Though the Stars were still unknown in the area, word of the team spread and the immediate success of the team on the ice, as well as Mike Modano's career best season helped spur the team's popularity in Dallas; the Stars set franchise bests in wins and points in their first season in Texas, qualifying for the 1994 playoffs. The Stars further shocked the hockey world by sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round, but lost to the eventual Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks in the second round; the Stars' success in their first season, along with American superstar Mike Modano's spectacular on ice performances would be an integral part of the Stars' eventual franchise success in the immediate years to come.
The immediate success of the Stars was helped by a long history of second-tier hockey in the area. The minor league Central Hockey League had two teams in the area, the Fort Worth Texans and the Dallas Blackhawks for 40 years before the Stars arrival; these two t
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are a professional ice hockey team based in San Jose, California. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League; the franchise is owned by San Jose Entertainment Enterprises. Beginning play in the 1991–92 season, the Sharks played their home games at the Cow Palace, before they moved to their present home, the SAP Center at San Jose in 1993; the SAP Center is known locally as the Shark Tank. The Sharks were founded in 1991 and were the first NHL franchise based in the San Francisco Bay Area since the California Golden Seals relocated to Cleveland in 1976; the Sharks have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016. They have won the Presidents' Trophy once, as the team with the league's best regular season record in the 2008–09 season, they have won six division titles as a member of the Pacific Division since 1993. The club is affiliated with the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League.
The Oakland Coliseum Arena was home to the California Golden Seals of the NHL from 1967 to 1976, who were never successful either on the ice or at the box office. Gordon and George Gund III became minority owners of the Seals in 1974, were instrumental in their move to Cleveland in 1976 and a 1978 merger with the Minnesota North Stars, which they purchased that year, they had long wanted to bring hockey back to the Bay Area, asked the NHL for permission to move the North Stars there in the late 1980s, but the league vetoed the proposed move. Meanwhile, a group led by former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin was pushing the NHL to bring a team to San Jose, where a new arena was being built; the League struck a compromise: the Gunds would sell their share of the North Stars to Baldwin's group, with the Gunds receiving an expansion team in the Bay Area to begin play in the 1991–92 season and being allowed to take a certain number of players from the North Stars to their new club. In return, the North Stars would be allowed to participate as an equal partner in an expansion draft with the new Bay Area team.
On May 5, 1990, the Gunds sold their share of the North Stars to Baldwin and were awarded a new team for the Bay Area, based in San Jose. The owners paid to the league an expansion fee of US$45 million. Over 5,000 potential names were submitted by mail for the new team. While the first-place finisher was "Blades", the Gunds were concerned about the name's negative association with weapons, went with the runner-up, "Sharks." The name was said to have been inspired by the large number of sharks living in the Pacific Ocean. Seven varieties live there, one area of water near the Bay Area is known as the "red triangle" because of its shark population; the team's first marketing head, Matt Levine, said of the new name, "Sharks are relentless, swift, agile and fearless. We plan to build an organization that has all those qualities." For their first two seasons, the Sharks played at the Cow Palace in Daly City, just outside San Francisco, a facility the NHL and the Seals had rejected in 1967. Pat Falloon led the team in points during their first season.
The team was placed in the Campbell Conference's Smythe Division. George Kingston was their first head coach during their first two seasons. Though the 1991–92 roster consisted of NHL journeymen, minor leaguers and rookies, the Sharks had at least one notable player when they acquired 14-year veteran and former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Doug Wilson from the Chicago Blackhawks on September 6, 1991. Wilson was named the team's first captain and All-Star representative in the inaugural season. However, the Sharks' first two seasons saw the typical struggles for an expansion team; the 71 losses in 1992–93 is an NHL record, they suffered a 17-game losing streak, while winning just 11 games and earning a mere 24 points in the standings. Kingston was fired following the end of the 1992–93 season. Despite the Sharks' futility in the standings, the team led the NHL's merchandise sales with $150 million, accounting for 27% of the NHL's total and behind only National Basketball Association champions Chicago Bulls among all North American leagues.
Several team "firsts" happened in the 1992–93 season. On November 17, 1992, San Jose goaltender Arturs Irbe recorded the first shutout in team history, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 6–0. On December 3, against the Hartford Whalers at the Cow Palace, right winger Rob Gaudreau scored the first hat-trick in franchise history; the inaugural year saw the birth of the San Jose Sharks mascot, "S. J. Sharkie". On January 28, 1992, at a game against the New York Rangers, the then-unnamed mascot emerged from a Zamboni during an intermission. A "Name the Mascot" contest began that night, with the winning name of "S. J. Sharkie" being announced on April 15, 1992. For their third season, 1993–94, the Sharks moved to their new home, the San Jose Arena, were placed in the Western Conference's Pacific Division. Under head coach Kevin Constantine, the Sharks pulled off the biggest turnaround in NHL history, finishing with a 33–35–16 record and making the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in team history with 82 points, an NHL record 58-point jump from the previous season.
They were seeded eighth in the Western Conference playoffs and faced the Detroit Red Wings, the top-seeded Western Conference team and a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. In one of the biggest upsets in Stanley Cup playoff history, the underdog Sharks shocked the Red Wings in seven games. In Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena, Jamie Baker scored the game-winning goal i
Adam Robert Oates is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, former co-head coach for the New Jersey Devils and former head coach for the Washington Capitals. He played 19 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Edmonton Oilers. Known as an elite playmaker, his career total of 1,079 assists was the fifth-highest total in NHL history at the time of his 2004 retirement. After retiring as a player, he served as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils prior to joining the Capitals as their head coach for two seasons between 2012 and 2014. In 2017, Oates was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history; as a college player, Oates was a standout forward for the RPI Engineers. He set single-season school records for assists and points and was named an Eastern College Athletic Conference all-star and National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American in both 1984 and 1985.
He was named a tournament all-star in helping RPI win the 1985 national championship, in 1990–91, the NHL included him in its Second All-Star Team. He holds the record for most points all-time of any NHL player who played NCAA Hockey. Oates was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 12, 2012, along with Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure and Mats Sundin. Oates was born August 1962, in Weston, a neighborhood in Toronto; as a youth, he played both box lacrosse, favouring the latter sport. He played in the 1975 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with a minor ice hockey team from Toronto. Oates played five seasons with the Etobicoke Eclipse of the Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior A Lacrosse League. An offensive standout, Oates' total of 181 points in 19 games in 1981 was the 11th highest total in OLA junior history at the time; as the league's leading scorer, he won the Bobby Allan Award and in one game that season, set OLA Junior A single-game records of 19 assists and 29 points. Oates played one season of Senior A with the Brampton Excelsiors of Major Series Lacrosse but left the game in 1984 to focus on his hockey career.
Describing his younger self as a "punk", Oates said. He dropped out of high school to focus on hockey and ended up working as a gas station attendant at age 19. Oates played two full seasons and parts of a third with the Junior A Markham Waxers of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League, he scored 89 points in 43 games during 1980–81, 159 points – including 105 assists – in 1981–82. He went unselected in the NHL Entry Draft, however, as scouts considered him too slow to play in the NHL, he returned to high school to complete his diploma when he was recruited to play for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RPI's assistant coach Paul Allen noticed Oates during a 1982 OPJAHL game while scouting a different player and offered him a position on the school's team. Oates played three seasons with the RPI Engineers, leading the team in assists each year. After scoring 42 points in 22 games in his freshman season of 1982–83, he spent the summer working with a skating instructor to improve his foot speed.
In 1983–84, he set school records in points with 83 and assists with 57. He was named to the East Coast Athletic Conference second all-star team and became the first RPI hockey player to earn a berth on the National Collegiate Athletic Association All-American team since 1965. In 1984 -- 85, Oates broke his own school records by recording 91 points, his career total of 150 assists remains a school record As of 2012. Again named an NCAA All-American, he was voted to the ECAC first all-star team, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top hockey player in the NCAA. After helping RPI win the 1985 national championship, he was included in the all-tournament team. In his three years with RPI, the Engineers recorded an 85–19–1 record and won the ECAC championships in 1984 and 1985. Oates was voted to the ECAC's all-decade team of the 1980s, he was inducted into RPI's Athletics Hall of Fame, was named the inaugural member of the hockey team's Ring of Honor in 2004. NHL teams took interest in Oates following his junior season.
Choosing to forgo his final year of college eligibility, Oates signed a four-year, $1.1 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings that made him the highest paid rookie in the NHL in 1985–86. He made his NHL debut on October 10, 1985, against the Minnesota North Stars, scoring his first goal that night on goaltender Don Beaupre and added an assist. After this, Oates was pointless in his following 16 games. Oates split the remainder of the season between Detroit and Adirondack, finishing his first NHL season with 38 games played, 9 goals and 11 assists. In the AHL, he scored 28 assists in 34 games. Having finished the NHL season in Detroit, he was returned to Adirondack for the AHL playoffs which the team won to take the Calder Cup championship. Oates established himself as a full-time NHLer in scoring 47 points in 76 games, he improved to 54 points in 63 games the following year despite missing a month due to a groin injury, finished third in team scoring with 78 points in 1988–89. However, Detroit made changes following a first round loss in the playoffs.
The deal, now considered one of the worst in Red Wings' history, left Oates "heartbroken" to leave his first NHL club. The
Raymond Jean Bourque is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. He holds records for most career goals and points by a defenceman in the National Hockey League, he won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's best defensemen five times, while finishing second for that trophy a further six times. He twice finished second in the voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy, a rarity for a defenceman, he was named to the end-of-season All-Star teams 19 times, 13 on the first-team and six on the second-team. Bourque was an Olympian with Canada and became nearly synonymous with the Boston Bruins franchise, for which he played 21 seasons and became Boston's longest-serving captain. Bourque finished his career with the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he won his only Stanley Cup in his final NHL game. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. Bourque was born in Saint-Laurent, the son of Raymond Bourque Sr. and Anita Allain. Both of his parents were from New Brunswick, moved to Montreal in the 1950s.
His mother died from cancer when he was 12 years old, while his father died in 2009. Bourque was raised bilingual, speaking both English and French at home, though he went to a French school. Bourque was the third-round pick of the Trois-Rivières Draveurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Half-way through his rookie season, head coach and general manager Michel Bergeron traded Bourque to Sorel for high-scoring Benoît Gosselin. After a stellar junior career with Sorel and Verdun of the QMJHL, in which he was named the league's best defenceman in 1978 and 1979, Bourque was drafted eighth overall by the Bruins in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, with a first-round draft choice obtained from the Los Angeles Kings in a 1977 trade for goaltender Ron Grahame. Boston GM Harry Sinden intended to select defenceman Keith Brown, but Brown was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks prior to Boston's selection. Panicking, the Bruins settled on Bourque against their better judgment. Bourque would make an immediate impact in Boston during his rookie season of 1979–80, scoring a goal in his first game while facing the Winnipeg Jets.
Bourque asserted himself from the start as one of the best defensemen in the league, winning both the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year and a First Team All-Star selection, the first time in NHL history a non-goaltender had achieved the distinction. His 65 points that season was a record at the time for a rookie defenseman. In 1985, upon the retirement of Bruins' captain Terry O'Reilly to coach the club and veteran Rick Middleton were named co-captains of the team, Middleton to wear the "C" during home games and Bourque for road games. Upon Middleton's retirement in 1988, Bourque became the team's sole captain, retained the position for the remainder of his Bruins' tenure. In so doing, he passed Dit Clapper as the longest tenured Bruins' captain in history, as well as passing Alex Delvecchio of the Detroit Red Wings as the longest-serving team captain in NHL history, a mark since surpassed by Steve Yzerman of the Red Wings. Bourque proved a solid force for Boston for 21 seasons, famous for combining offensive prowess at a level that few defencemen in league history had achieved—he was a perennial shot accuracy champion at All-Star Games—and near-unparalleled defensive excellence.
Bourque won five Norris Trophies as the league's top defenceman and finished second to Mark Messier in 1990 in the closest race for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league's Most Valuable Player award. The Bruins' reliance on Bourque's on-ice mastery was so total that—while Bourque was durable throughout much of his career—the team was seen by many to flounder whenever he was out of the lineup. During Bourque's tenure with the Bruins, the team continued what would be a North American professional record twenty-nine consecutive seasons in the playoffs, a streak that would persist through the 1996 season. In the playoffs, Bourque led the team to the Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers in both 1988 and 1990, where the Bruins lost in both series. Bourque was popular among Bruins fans because of his willingness to re-sign with Boston without any acrimonious or lengthy negotiations, he passed over several opportunities to set the benchmark salary for defenceman. Bourque's jersey number, 77, is retired by both the Bruins and the Avalanche in honor of his contributions to both teams.
However, it was not his original number. When he debuted with the Bruins, he was assigned sweater number 7; this particular number had a significant amount of history behind it for the Bruins, as it had been the number of star player Phil Esposito for his entire Bruins career. Bourque was the third player issued the number following Esposito's departure from the team in 1976, following Sean Shanahan and Bill Bennett. With Bourque, by now established as a star, beginning to hit the prime of his career, the Bruins decided that the time was right to pay a proper tribute to Esposito's accomplishments and announced before the start of the 1987–88 season that he would become the seventh Bruin to have his number retired by the team. Unbeknownst to those in attendance the night of the ceremony, Bourque had a surprise in store for everyone; when the team took to the ice for the presentation, Bourque skated over to Esposito and removed his #7 jersey. He handed it to Esposito in a symbolic gesture "surrendering" the number out of respect for everything Esposito accomplished whi
Captain (ice hockey)
In ice hockey, the captain is the player designated by a team as the only person authorized to speak with the game officials regarding rule interpretations when the captain is on the ice. At most levels of play each team must designate one captain and a number of alternate captains who speak to the officials when the captain is on the bench. Captains wear a "C" on their sweaters, while alternate captains wear an "A". Captains have no other responsibility or authority, although they may, depending on the league or individual team, have various informal duties, such as participation in pre-game ceremonies or other events outside the game; as with most team sports that designate captains, the captain is a well-respected player and a de facto team leader. According to International Ice Hockey Federation and National Hockey League rules, the only player allowed to speak with referees about rule interpretations is the captain, or, if the captain is not on the ice, an alternate captain. Although the rules do not specify any other distinction between the captain and his teammates, the captain has numerous responsibilities to the team in North American professional hockey.
The captain is a dressing room leader, represents the players' concerns to management. The captain is considered the primary representative of the team to the public, sometimes is responsible for organizing the team's social functions and performing ceremonial on-ice functions, such as award presentations or ceremonial faceoffs. NHL teams need not designate the same player as captain from game to game. For instance, in the 1985–86, when Boston Bruins captain Terry O'Reilly retired, Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton were named as co-captains of the team. Middleton wore the "C" during home games and Bourque for road games during the season's first half, the two switched for the second half; this arrangement continued until Middleton retired in 1988 and Bourque became the sole captain. Some teams name three captains for a season; some teams rotate captains rather than keep one for an extended period of time. During each NHL game, only one player can be designated as captain. Captains are veteran players, though on occasion younger players are chosen.
The selection is seen as an important moment for a team, one that can affect the team's performance. Captains are selected by different means: in some instances, teams have held votes among their players to choose a team captain, while on other occasions, the choice was made by team management. Captains are chosen due to their seniority in the game and years of service with their current club. However, franchise players—current or emerging stars—have been named captains. Though not required, many captains have served as alternate captains of their team; some selections or removals of NHL captaincies have been controversial, more so than the other North American professional sports leagues. For instance, in Canada men's national ice hockey team, then-General Manager Bobby Clarke selected Eric Lindros for the 1998 Winter Olympics, considered somewhat controversial as Lindros was chosen over longer-tenured NHL captains such as Steve Yzerman, Ray Bourque and Wayne Gretzky, Clarke was general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers whom Lindros played for professionally.
In 2000, when the relationship between Clarke and Lindros deteriorated during contentious contract negotiations and the team's handling of Lindros' injuries, the team captaincy was issued to Eric Desjardins. Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella stripped the captaincy from Vincent Lecavalier for failing to meet on-ice performance expectations. In 1980, Darryl Sittler angrily resigned the captaincy by cutting off the "C" from his jersey with scissors, in protest of Harold Ballard's trade of his best friend Lanny McDonald, Ballard would liken Sittler's actions to burning the Canadian flag; the rules of the IIHF, NHL and Hockey Canada do not permit goaltenders to be designated as on-ice captains, due to the logistical challenge of having the goaltender relay rules discussions between referees and coaches and return to the crease. The NHL introduced a rule prohibiting the goaltender from being a captain following the 1947–48 season. In the NCAA, there is no position-based restriction on the team captain.
Teams may designate alternate captains often erroneously called "assistant captains". Alternate captains wear the letter "A" on their jerseys in the same manner that team captains wear the "C". In the NHL, teams may appoint a captain and up to two or three alternate captains, or they may appoint three or four alternate captains and thus no captain. O A team has three alternate captains when the team has not selected a captain, or when the serving captain is injured and misses a game. In the National Hockey League, it is common for three alternate captains if no one is assigned captain or the current captain is absent. International and USA amateur rules do not allow this. If the team chooses to not appoint a captain, they are not permitted to