Happy 4th of July! Ironically, the two events of note in Boston Bruins history for today involve two Canadians–although one has dual citizenship and has represented America internationally.
1940: Pat Stapleton (full name Patrick James Stapleton) is born in Sarnia, Ontario. Stapleton was part of a Memorial Cup-winning team in 1960 and had signed with Chicago, but was taken by Boston in an intra-league draft in 1961 (before the start of the official yearly drafts) and started his NHL career with the Bruins. He split time between Boston and their minor affiliate, then a few seasons exclusively in the minors, and it was only after the Black Hawks claimed him in 1965 that he really broke into the NHL. He then spent eight seasons with Chicago, including 1969, when he set a record for assists in a season by a defenseman–that would be broken by Bobby Orr the next year. In 1972, he played in the Summit Series versus the Soviet Union. The next year, he left the NHL for the upstart WHA and became player-coach for the Chicago Cougars. 1974 saw him in the Summit Series again as captain. The Cougars struggled financially and Stapleton bought the team, along with two teammates, adding the Cougars to Stapleton’s portfolio of other small arenas in Chicago. When the Cougars folded, Stapleton went to the Indianapolis Racers for two years. His final play season was with the Cincinnati Stingers. He still has the series-winning puck from the 1972 Summit Series, but this year is the 40th anniversary of it and he has said he will give the puck away at that time, maybe to the Hall of Fame.
1972: Mike Knuble (full name Michael Rudolph Knuble) is born in Toronto, Ontario. He was raised in Michigan (there’s the dual citizenship) and drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1991, but played a full four years at the University of Michigan before going into the pro leagues. First he spent time with Detroit’s then-AHL affiliate in Adirondack and then had an NHL debut during a rather unusual night: a game between the Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche that played host to nine different fights over the course of 60 minutes, including one between the two teams’ goaltenders. Detroit won the Stanley Cup in 1997, but Knuble hadn’t played enough games for engraving. They did include him in the team picture. When they repeated as champions in 1998, he met the play requirements this time. Then he was traded to the New York Rangers, where he played all of 1998-99 and most of 1999-2000 before becoming a Bruin through trade. While in Boston, at one point he was on a line with Joe Thornton. He had four pretty good seasons with the Bruins, including 2002-03, when he had 30 goals and 29 assists (while linemates with Thornton), third place in scoring among the team. But after 2003-04, he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in the offseason, his debut delayed a year. 2005-06, though, would be a career-high season for him–34 goals, 31 assists, 65 points. Plus, he represented America at the 2006 Olympics. He also had his first hat trick with Philadelphia when he scored all three goals as they shut out Anaheim. On the opening of free agency in 2009, his time with Philadelphia ended and he signed with the Washington Capitals. In December 2011, he celebrated his 1,000th game.
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