Today in Boston Bruins History: April 17

1940: Tom Williams (full name Thomas Mark Williams) was born in Duluth, Minnesota. He was the first American player to play regularly in the NHL since the Bruins’ Frank Brimsek retired. Plus, he and his brother Butch were the first American brothers to play. He was also part of the 1960 Olympic team that beat Czechoslovakia for the gold medal, also defeating the other favorites to win in Canada, the Soviet Union and Sweden. (This has come to be known as the Forgotten Miracle, playing off the 1980 Olympic Miracle on Ice.) After that win, he joined the Bruins, where he spent most of the 60s and was a pretty good skater and shooter. But it was after he left the Bruins–first to the Minnesota North Stars, then to the California Golden Seals, the New England Whalers and the Washington Capitals–when he picked up a famous nickname. He joked with customs officials in Toronto about having a bomb in his bag, earning a one-game suspension and the nickname “The Bomber.” He retired during the 1975-76 season. But he had a tough life: his wife died in 1970, an event that changed his personality. Later on after he remarried and retired, his son Robert (a Bruins prospect himself) died in 1987. Williams himself died in 1992.

1951: Dave Hynes (full name David Hynes) is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He made Boston Bruins history by being the first American-born player drafted by the team when he was selected in 1971. Though his NHL career was short–two years in Boston before heading to the upstart WHA’s New England Whalers–he also represented America in the 1972, 1973 and 1977 World Championships.

1976: The Bruins, with Gerry Cheevers in net, shut out the Los Angeles Kings 3-0.

1980: A playoff game against the New York Islanders sets team records for penalty minutes in a postseason game. Bruins players chalk up 126 minutes and Islanders players get 128 of their own for a combined 254 PIM total. For each team, 124 of those minutes come in the first period alone. Sounds like some very bad blood. By the way, the Bruins lose 5-4.

1982: Chuck Kobasew (full name Nicholas James Kobasew) is born in Osoyoos, British Columbia. He was drafted by the Calgary Flames in 2001 and went pro after one season at Boston College (which ended in an Eagles win over North Dakota in the Frozen Four). He was part of the Flames organization until 2007, when he and Andrew Ference were traded to Boston. In two full seasons as a Bruin, he scored 81 points in total, but he was traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2009. Now he is with the Colorado Avalanche.

1982: Brad Boyes (full name Bradley Keith Boyes) is born in Mississauga, Ontario. The son of a teacher and a school principal, Boyes played juniors for the Erie Otters before his NHL drafting by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000. He went first to San Jose and then to the Bruins in 2004, recording his first NHL goal and first hat trick as a Bruin. In 2007, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Dennis Wideman, and last year he went to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a 2011 draft pick.

1999: Byron Dafoe finishes the season with a 1.99 goals against average following a 2-1 win over the Sabres. That’s the first time a Bruins goalie had a GAA under the 2.00 mark since Frank Brimsek in 1938-39 (1.58). Fifty years later, Dafoe becomes the fourth goalie in club history to go below 2.00.

A year ago today: It’s a quiet day for the Bruins after opening the playoffs with an 0-2 record. (Soon, though, they’ll head to Lake Placid for a little change of scenery.)

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