Today in Boston Bruins History: February 28

1943: Poul Popiel (full name Poul Peter Popiel) is born in Sollested, Denmark. Popiel, a defenseman, played just one season in Boston–1965-66–as well as spending time with three other NHL teams (Los Angeles, Detroit, Vancouver, Edmonton) and a long stint with the then-WHL level Houston Aeros. He also coached the IHL’s Muskegon Mohawks. Born in Denmark and raised in Canada, Popiel became an American citizen, which created an interesting distinction years after his playing career ended. When the New York Islanders debuted Frans Nielsen in 2007, it was believed that Nielsen would be the first Danish-born player in the NHL. However, Popiel had that honor. But since he was an American citizen and Nielsen is a Danish citizen, they gave him that distinction to enjoy.

1947: Barry Wilkins (full name Barry James Wilkins) was born in Toronto, Ontario. Wilkins, a defenseman, played for three years with Boston, although he spent much of his time in the minor leagues. He was Bobby Orr’s teammate with the Oshawa Generals and did appear in six Bruins games for 1969-70, the Cup-winning year. Soon thereafter, he was drafted by the newborn Vancouver Canucks in 1970 and scored their first goal ever. He had some good years in Vancouver and Pittsburgh, plus time in Edmonton and Indianapolis before retiring in 1979. He died in June 2011 from lung cancer.

1969: Shawn McEachern is born in Waltham, Massachusetts. McEachern, a left-winger, had two different stints in Boston spaced ten years apart: 1995-96 and 2005-06. Between those were stints with Pittsburgh (where he started), Ottawa and Atlanta as well as playing for Team USA in the 1992 Olympics. He won the Stanley Cup in 1992. After retiring in 2006, he decided to go into coaching in the Massachusetts area. He’s been part of the proceedings at University of Massachusetts Lowell, Northeastern University and Salem State University. Today he is head varsity coach for The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts.

1974: Boston goalie Ross Brooks ties an NHL record (at the time) held by Bruins legend Tiny Thompson with his 14th straight win in an 8-1 victory over Detroit.

A year ago today: A Vancouver Sun columnist wonders if the Bruins/Canucks game a few nights before could be a preview of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. (That guy might just be psychic.)

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