Boston Bruins history for July 23:
1925: Harvey Bennett, Sr. was born in Edington, Saskatchewan. As a goalie, Bennett really played just one season with the Bruins, from 1944-45, but he spent much of a long and storied hockey career in Boston’s minor system. He also kept the love of the game going: he had six sons and five of them played hockey at some level–three in the NHL, one in the WHA, one in the IHL. (The sixth drowned while trying to rescue his pet dog, sadly.) Bennett died in 2004.
1969: Dmitri Khristich (full name Dmytro Anatoliiovych Khristich) is born in Kiev, Ukraine. Drafted in 1988 by the Washington Capitals, he did not become part of the Bruins until a late August 1997 trade from Los Angeles. Interestingly, Khristich was originally traded from the Caps to the Kings as part of a package deal with Byron Dafoe. When dealt to Boston, Dafoe was part of the deal once again. Khristich spent two years as a Bruin and appeared in the 1999 All-Star Game, his second time being selected as one. Both of his Boston seasons saw him score at least 66 points, too. But he was also part of a different kind of history when, after Khristich took the Bruins to arbitration and was given a $2.8 million salary, then-GM Harry Sinden refused the decision. This turned Khristich into an unrestricted free agent and was the first time a team refused after losing an arbitration case. Sinden felt like Khristich wasn’t worth the money. (He also refused David Tanabe in a similar manner.) Sinden was right, though, because Khristich never produced quite the same even after time in Toronto, Washington and the KHL. Still, he is the all-time scoring leader for players who are born and trained in Ukraine. Today he is the head supervisor of Ukraine’s pro hockey league.
1973: Dennis Bonvie (full name Dennis Kevin Bonvie) is born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Bonvie was undrafted and spent much of his career in the AHL as an enforcer. Bonvie also holds the record for pro career penalty minutes with an eye-popping 4,804. (That’s a little over 80 hours, or more than three days.) He did manage to score one NHL goal in a career marked mostly by time spent in the box feeling shame, though–in a game during his time with the Bruins, 2001-02, scoring on Chris Osgood. After scoring, he joked that Osgood should retire. Bonvie is especially liked by fans of Pittsburgh’s AHL club in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Their home arena is often called the house that Bonvie built and he spent five years in the Penguins system, retiring as a “Baby Pen.” Now he has three restaurants and a hockey camp in Pennsylvania.
1977: Shawn Thornton is born in Oshawa, Ontario. Drafted in 1997 by Toronto, he never played for the big club and instead spent four seasons with their then-affiliate in St. John’s. A 2001 trade to Chicago saw him doing much the same, spending much more time with the AHL than the NHL. His fortunes began to shift when he joined the Anaheim Ducks in 2006, playing most of the season in California and winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. Soon after that win, though, he signed with Boston as a free agent–and has never spent time in the minors since. The Bruins have molded him into an important aspect of the team, even if he is just a self-described meatball from the fourth line. Not only is he able to fight if need be, but he tends to energize the team, too. Consider how his insertion into the lineup during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final may have helped change the tone of the series–or how the team seemed too toothless without him in the 2012 playoffs. His advice to Tyler Seguin to use 2011 playoff practices as games helped him be ready to answer the call in the Eastern Conference Final. Plus, he and Mark Recchi often hung out at the back of the team plane in what they called the Three Rings Lounge, a nod to Thornton’s Cup win and Recchi’s two at the time. Thornton lives in Charlestown year-round, contributes to many charitable causes, is often considered the Bruins’ policeman (a career he may have pursued if hockey didn’t work out) and had a pretty awesome penalty shot last season.
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