This past week, the Boston Bruins celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup winning team.
The celebration included video chats from members of the team including former head coach Harry Sinden, and players John Bucyk and Gerry Cheevers.
All three spoke not just about what times were like with the team back in 1970, but also about the success of the organization today.
On the character of the team:
“We did have a host of characters, but they were able to separate that the business hand,” said Harry Sinden. “Our Monday practices were brutal. They know it was going to be brutal. They were receptive. John Mackenzie was the character. He’d lie on his back towards the end of practice and put his feet and hands in the air, and start acting like a toddler and threw a tantrum. It was kind of a ritual for the team to know what was coming the following week; we used to play on Saturdays, mostly, on the road. By the time Monday came around, we had tough practices. They were good at it. They were good at practice, they were a good hard-working practice team. [It’s] very difficult for me to remember players on that team cheating on the ice during games or during practice, or anywhere else. ”
On the chemistry with line-mates:
“I fitted right in,” said John Bucyk. “I just got in, they put us together, Fred Stanfield and Johnny “Pie” McKenzie, and we played well…After a couple years, things just fell right for me. I had a great career as a player, and really enjoyed Boston.”
Sinden on coaching:
“We had two excellent goaltenders in Cheevers and Eddie Johnson,” Sinden said. “Usually goals against and defense has a great deal to do with the type of goaltending you had, and we had very good goal-keeping. Besides that, even though certain players really made a mark for themselves in hockey with their offense, they were strong defensively. Phil Esposito, in crucial times, over all the years I coached was a guy I relied on defensively as well. He could kill penalties as well as anyone, and was [an] excellent face-off man. Sometimes his offense was so great that no one cared about his defense. It was good to allow others; if we had a face-off deep in our end, and we were up a goal, I wouldn’t want anyone else on the ice but Johnny Bucyk who was unbelievably inept to getting the puck out of our end. Especially if they had their goaltender out or something like that. He was [an] excellent defensive forward in that situation. So, we looked at those players as offensive players, but as a coach I remember them meaning so much to me defensively as well.”
Gerry Cheever’s on the Bobby Orr goal:
“I let two goals in the history in,” Cheevers said. “It was a game, we were probably 10-1 favorites, and it was a type of game that we were just gonna win it and win the cup. Well, St. Louis played one hell of a game, but I let two terrible goals in, [then had to] force it into overtime so Bobby can get that goal. So if I didn’t do that, you might have never heard of Bobby Orr. And, with 15 seconds left in that game, Larry Keen (look up), who played for St. Louis, he had a point-blank shot with 15 seconds left and I am falling and somehow I got my glove behind my back to keep him from tying and to make the game go into overtime. If that goal goes in, we are back to St. Louis for a fifth game. And when Bobby got the goal, I was on the other end, and in celebration I threw my stick and it balanced on the glass…and then I joined the celebration.”
Bucyk on what it meant to win the Cup:
“It was really great because we had 8 where we never really made playoffs and then to come back and see the team changing–you could see the wheel turning–…that was so big to us,” said Bucyk. “And you just felt the team was going to improve, better win the cup, and we did. We won it. We should have won it back in ’61, but we did win it in ’70 and that was probably one of the highlights in my career because it was the first time that we won it, and we won it in Boston for our fans who had waited a long tim. Back in those days you couldn’t get a ticket, the team was so strong.”
Sinden on the state of the organization today:
“A lot of people wonder about certain players, whether they could make it as coach, executive, etc. And, no one seems to have the answer and just takes a player and some work and some don’t,” said Sinden. “But, no one that I have dealt with in all my years was so in love with the game of hockey (as) Cam Neely. He took a terrific blow to a spectacular career that could have been, and was, and took a few years off and just could not stay away from it. And I knew that, and we always had a good relationship, we fought a lot…over certain things. But, he wanted to be back in the game. And we wanted to do what he always wanted to do which was being involved in hockey. It’s hard to find a guy like that. I mean it really is–they want the job, and they want the good money and the job. And there’s prestige and there’s puppet idol-ism, really. I know Cam because I brought him aboard…Finally we did [bring him] in, but we didn’t know what title to give him. I said we can’t give him some title like Head of Northwest scouting or something like that. He’s the Vice President of the team, we got to teach him the business. To me, he’s one of the things that I feel proud of. The trade worked out good, but those trades are always lucky or not lucky. So it worked out really good, and Cam was a terrific hall of fame player. But his presence in this city has been spectacular. So I was glad to see him end up with our team, and doing the job he is.”
Bucyk on the Bruins power play today:
“They work really well,” said Bucyk. “They move the puck around real good. You can’t take Pastrnak’s shot away, but he has a great shot. Marchand has a great shot, he’s got a release. Bergy, of course, in the corner–he does everything right.”