Today in Boston Bruins History: June 7
1945: Gilles Marotte (full name Jean Gilles Marotte) was born in Montreal, Quebec. Marotte began his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 1965, staying around for two seasons before he was part of one of the biggest trades in Boston Bruins history. He was dealt to the Chicago Black Hawks as part of a deal for Phil Esposito. A 1970 trade landed him with the Los Angeles Kings, the team he represented at the 1973 All-Star Game and had career-high points with, too. A three-year stint with the New York Rangers was followed by St. Louis claiming him off waivers and spending time in the minors for the first time in his career. Maybe soured by this experience, he jumped to the World Hockey Association the next season, playing in Cincinnati and Indianapolis before retiring in 1978. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2005.
1950: Ron Grahame (full name Ronald Ian Grahame) is born in Vancouver, British Columbia. Grahame went undrafted after a college career at the University of Denver, he went to the WHA Houston Aeros, where he stacked up the accolades. In his first full season there, he backstopped the Aeros all the way to the AVCO World Trophy, won their version of the Conn Smythe and Vezina, plus led the league in wins, shutouts and goals against average. When the Aeros ceased to exist, Grahame signed with the Bruins and spent a season as the team’s number one goalie. But he was traded in 1979 to Los Angeles for a draft pick that would turn into Ray Bourque. His play declined thereafter and he spent a little time in Quebec as well before retiring. Now he works for the University of Denver, working with the team for which he used to play. The Grahame family also includes the only mother-son combination on the Stanley Cup: Ron’s wife Charlotte is on there as part of the 2001 Colorado Avalanche‘s front office staff, while their son John, also a goalie, was part of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning team.
1951: Terry O’Reilly (full name Terence Joseph James O’Reilly) is born in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Drafted by the Bruins in 1971, he spent his entire playing career in Boston. Though he was known for being a tough guy, he was also adept at scoring: he never had a season with fewer than 20 points and he put up 90 points in 1977-78. Sure, he also stacked up the penalty minutes–a high-water mark of 265 after that 90-point season–as well. O’Reilly was a part of the infamous incident at Madison Square Garden right around Christmas 1979 when a Rangers fan hit Stan Jonathan with a rolled-up program, grabbed his stick and started waving it. O’Reilly climbed the glass and went up into the stands. During his time as a Bruin, he was also captain of the team for two seasons before his 1985 retirement. After retiring, he was Bruins head coach for a while too, including the 1988 playoff run. His number, 24, was retired in 2002 and, true to his style of play, it hangs next to Bourque’s 77, O’Reilly protecting Bourque symbolically even to this day. O’Reilly’s favorite current Bruin is fellow birthday boy Milan Lucic. More on him later.
1955: Willi Plett is born in Asuncion, Paraguay. Yes, a Paraguayan hockey player! Well, he was born to Russian-German parents who emigrated to Paraguay and then the family moved to Canada when Plett was little. Though he was in Canada, he didn’t start playing organized hockey until he was 12, and he needed tutelage to finesse his game. But he was drafted by the Atlanta Flames in 1975, spent time in their minor club learning from a coach who was an enforcer, had a Calder-worthy season with 56 points in 64 games and a career-high 38-goal season to follow. He was traded to the Minnesota North Stars in 1980-81 and in the State of Hockey his game evolved to pretty much exclusively enforcer. He became part of the Bruins in 1987 and enjoyed a long playoff run that ended with a sweep by the Edmonton Oilers (including the infamous Lights Out at the Garden game). After that, he retired. Today he owns a landscaping company in Roswell, Ga.
1970: Andrei Kovalenko (full name Andrei Nikolaevich Kovalenko) is born in Balakovo, Soviet Union. Drafted by Quebec in 1990, he spent time both there and in Colorado before being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. As a Hab, he scored the last goal at the Montreal Forum in a 1996 game against the Dallas Stars. Interestingly, he also scored the first goal at the RBC Center (now PNC Arena) in 1999 when he was part of the Carolina Hurricanes. He spent his last NHL season, 2000-01, with the Bruins and put up 37 points in 76 games. After some more time in the Russian leagues, now he chairs the KHL Players Association.
1983: Milan Jurcina is born in Liptovsky Mikulas, Czechoslovakia. He was drafted by the Bruins in 2001 and spent time in the QMJHL and AHL before reaching Boston in 2005-06. He spent two seasons in Massachusetts, though he never made a huge splash on the score sheet, and was traded to the Washington Capitals in 2007. He also spent a season with Columbus and signed with the New York Islanders as a free agent in 2010. 2010 also saw him represent Slovakia at the Olympics, where they finished just below medaling. Today, he is still with the Islanders.
1988: Milan Lucic is born in Vancouver, British Columbia. The son of Serbian immigrants (his dad came to Canada at age 27; his mom came with her family when she was two), his uncle Dan Kesa played part of his NHL career for the Canucks and helped imbue Lucic with a love for the hometown team. Lucic nearly quit minor hockey after being passed up in a 2003 bantam draft, but kept going, rising up to the junior Vancouver Giants and playing even after being diagnosed with Scheuermann’s disease, which gives the back a curvature and a hunched-looking posture. In 2006, the Giants won the WHL championship and appeared in the Memorial Cup. That same year, Lucic was drafted by the Bruins. The Giants hosted the 2007 Memorial Cup and won, Lucic earning tournament MVP status. (The Giants also know how to take care of one of their biggest alumni: in February 2011 they added him to the team’s Ring of Honor, gave away bobbleheads and had a fan vote that named him the best Giant of all time. Plus, when his 2007 Memorial Cup ring was stolen, the Giants made him another one.) Lucic made a big impression in his first few games as a Bruin–one week after his debut, he put together a Gordie Howe hat trick as Boston beat the Kings 8-6. He had such a big rookie season that he got the Seventh Player Award. 2008 continued to be a good year for him: he got his first hat trick that October. 2009 saw him win the Eddie Shore Award. But 2009-10 wasn’t so great for him: his play was limited and suffered from injuries. 2010-11 was obviously a lot better–he had a career-high 62 points and won the Stanley Cup in his hometown. He did experience some tension from Canucks fans following the win and even changed his day with the Cup plans as a result. Of course, he is still with the Bruins today.
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