Johnny Bucyk played for the Boston Bruins for 21 seasons (after playing two for the Detroit Red Wings before being traded in return for Terry Sawchuk). He captained the team in 1966-67 and again from 1973-77, after winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1970 and 1972. With all this time playing for the team, it seemed that good things came in threes. Bucyk had three milestone scoring nights on December 7 – in 1967, 1968, and 1975.
In 1967, Bucyk played a major role in the Bruins’ 3-1 victory over the visiting New York Rangers and broke the Bruins’ scoring record. Bucyk told reporters, “I went out there tonight looking for two points. I wanted that record and I didn’t care how I got the points.” For the first point, during the first period, he scored a “sizzling slider that found the far corner” on a power play by tricking goalie Ed Giacomin into looking over at Phil Esposito. For the second point, he scored “a 30-foot skimmer at 16:39 of the third period.” The full house went wild chanting, “Chief, Chief, Chief.” Bucyk said, “It does something to you. Then it hits you they’re cheering for you. It hits hard. But it’s wonderful.” He kept the puck and returned to the bench, where teammates “Sanderson threw his left arm around Bucyk, ruffled his hair” and “Orr put his right arm around him and tapped him affectionately on the ribs.” The two points broke Milt Schmidt’s record of 575 points, so Schmidt, then general manager, said in the locker room, “I hope he brings a million records.” Bucyk had already tied his total number of goals from the previous season and was only five goals away from 250.
Exactly one year later, in 1968, Bucyk scored his 250th goal for Boston. For a Boston Garden audience of 14,653, Bucyk scored a goal and assisted on all three of the other goals in the Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. During the first period, he assisted on Ted Green’s first goal of the season. Then, at 16:03 in the second, Bucyk took a short pass from Stanfield on the right then “weaved in front and triggered one quickly through Crozier’s feet.” It was his first goal in 13 games. In the third period, Bucyk helped Johnny “Pie” McKenzie score two goals. The first was McKenzie’s 100th. Bucyk picked up “a loose puck deep in the Detroit zone” and “popped a pass across in front of the crease” to McKenzie, who “practically leaped in from the right to left the plug behind Crozier.” The two succeeded again during a power play from a penalty Gordie Howe earned for hooking.
In 1975, the Bruins faced their oldest rival, the Montreal Canadiens, before Boston Garden’s “first capacity figure of 15,003 for this hockey season.” The Bruins drew first blood with Terry O’Reilly’s goal in the first period, but the Canadiens followed with Peter Mahovlich’s in the second. Then, “very early in the third period,” Bucyk’s “backhand flip” put him in a tie with former Canadiens’ Jean Beliveau for “sixth place in the all-time standings.” Bucyk explained, “Dallas (Smith) got a good shot through. The puck was bouncing a little but I got good lumber on it to get the shot up high in the corner.” The tempo of the game “picked up furiously in the third after Bucyk’s goal” until the Canadiens tied the score with Guy Lafleur’s goal with seven minutes remaining. Although they tied, the game increased the Bruins’ unbeaten streak to 14 games (9-0-5).
Bucyk retired in 1978 having played 1,540 games (556G, 813A, 1369P), which put him in the top five for the NHL. Of those, he played 1,436 with Boston (545G, 794A, 1339P), which at the time, made him the Bruins’ all-time leader in every category. The Bruins retired his No. 9 in 1980, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981.
- John Ahern, “Defense Corps Sparking B’s Success,” and “Campbell Action Pays Off; B’s, Rangers Stick to Hockey,” Boston Globe, 8 Dec. 1967, p. 51-52.
- Francis Rosa, “Bucyk ‘Corners’ Giacomin,” Boston Globe, 8 Dec. 1967, p. 59-60.
- Tom Fitzgerald, “Bruins Win, 3-1; Bucyk Sets Mark,” Boston Globe, 8 Dec. 1967, p. 59-60.
- Tom Fitzgerald, “Bruins Stop Red Wings, 4-1,” Boston Globe, 8 Dec. 1968, p. 97-98.
- Tom Fitzgerald, “Bruins, Montreal tie one on, 2-2,” Boston Globe, 8 Dec. 1968, p. 25 and 30.