Inducted in 2011
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility
June 9th, 2001. On the ice at the Pepsi Centre in Denver, Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic hoisted the Stanley Cup to celebrate the team’s NHL championship. What he did next was cheered in both Denver and Boston and by fans of the game everywhere.
Taking the Cup from Sakic was Ray Bourque, who was touching hockey’s most sought-after trophy for the first time. After 1,612 regular season and 214 playoff games spanning 22 years in the NHL, the prize was finally his. No player had worked harder for the Cup and deserved it more.
The 8th overall pick of the Boston Bruins in 1979, Bourque turned pro after a standout junior career in Sorel and Verdun in the Quebec Major Junior League. The fact that he scored a goal in his very first game as a Bruin against the Winnipeg Jets surprised nobody. He capped that first year by receiving the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, and would finish his playing days with 410 goals, the most ever for a defenceman. During his long and stellar career, Bourque collected the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman five times.
Originally suiting up for the Bruins wearing #7, he gave up the jersey when it was retired in honour of Bruin legend Phil Esposito in 1987. During the ceremony, Bourque removed his jersey to reveal a pair of sevens on a second jersey. A new era had dawned for #77.
Over 21 seasons in Boston he frequently did the impossible … by making Bruin fans forget their previous legendary blueliner, Bobby Orr. Number 77 could do it all … game in, game out. He dominated the game from his blueline position both offensively and defensively like few have done before or since.
Besides his rock solid defensive play, he was a supreme playmaker and deadly shot. At the annual NHL All-Star Game, which he played in every season it was held during his career; Bourque frequently won the shooting accuracy competition.
Several times during his tenure with the Bruins, Bourque came close to sipping from Lord Stanley’s mug as Boston continued to extend its streak with the most consecutive playoff appearances of any North American pro franchise. Finally, with a chance to play for a contender as the Bruins began to fade, he moved on to Colorado. Although he played there for just a season and a half, his star shone as bright as ever, culminating in the Avalanche’s march to the finals in 2001. He scored a pivotal game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils in a series that went the full seven games. In the history of the Stanley Cup, Bourque had waited longer than any other to savour the game’s sweetest victory, and it came in his final game. Always a winner, he closed out his playing career as a champion.
Few were surprised in 2004 when the longest serving captain in Bruin history was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in his first season of eligibility.
Fittingly, his #77 jersey hangs from the rafters in both Boston and Denver.