When the NHL formed in 1917, the Boston Athlectic Association were the defending American Amateur Hockey Association champions. As the Boston area was already a hockey hub, it was only approporiate that the Bruins would become the NHL's first American franchise.
Grocery store magnate Charles Adams had sponsored an amateur team in Boston, but became disenchated when he learned that rivals clubs were in fact paying their amateurs through gratuities. With the Boston area ripe for pro hockey, Adams was lobbied by a group of hockey cognoscenti from north of the border than included Montreal's Tom Duggan and Ottawa's Frank Sullivan, and they wanted to have Adams see NHL hockey first hand.
Adams was immediately sold on NHL Hockey, upon being brought to Canada to witness the 1924 Stanley Cup finals between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Tigers. Sensing the allure of players such as Howie Morenz, Georges Vezina, Aurele Joliat and Sprague Cleghorn, Adams arranged for an exhibition match in Boston featuring the Canadiens, and the enthusiastic fan results convinced him to successfully bid on an NHL franchise.
The grocery tycoon wasted no time in assembling his hockey brass. On his trip to Canada, Adams had met early hockey legend Art Ross and took a liking to him. He soon named him as the club's coach and manager. Adams named the team the "Bruins" and they would don uniforms in the yellow and brown colour scheme of his First National Grocers store chain.
The Boston Bruins were not the only club to join the NHL in 1924-25, as a nameless Montreal club, representing the english population of the city gained entry to the league as well, bringing the NHL to a six team league.
The Montreal franchise was to be named the Wanderers, after the club that had played in the NHA and NHL from 1906 to 1917, when an arena fire extinguished the franchise. As owner of the Wanderers name, former club owner Sam Lichtenstein, refused a reasonable sum for the moniker, and the team later became known as the Maroons, named so by the fans and press, due to the colour of their sweaters.
It was against these same Maroons that the Bruins would play their first ever NHL game on Monday December 1, 1924, and fans filled the 3,500 seat Boston Arena to watch the Bruins emerge as 2-1 victors. One week later, the Bruins hosted the Canadiens, losing a second consecutive game, in a what would become a long season.
The Bruins would go winless until January 10 - a twelve game stretch - when they would defeat the Canadiens 3-2 at the Forum in Montreal. They would later beat the Canadiens once more by the same score, this time in Boston on March 3, in a streak that saw the Bruins win three of their final five contests.
Boston would finish their first season in sixth and last place in the expanded NHL with a 6 - 24 record. Apart from from leading scorer Jimmy Herberts, Carson Cooper, and Lionel Hitchman, the 1924-25 Bruins were for the most part, a collection of no name players and castoffs.
Of a larger importance, was the Bruins attendance figures, showing that NHL hockey had most definitely caught on in Boston. There were sellouts when the Bruins and Canadiens met, and strong attendance across the board. The enthusiam helped the NHL expand into the U.S. by a further 5 franchises over the next two seasons. In 1925-26, the NHL added the New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates, followed by the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Cougars in 1926-27.
The Bruins were a much improved squad in 1925-26, with the addition of former Canadiens terror Sprague Cleghorn and others. Boston posted a 17-15-4 record, finishing fourth in the seven team league, just 7 points from a playoff spot.
After two seasons of solid fan support, Adams was compelled to start signing some bigger paycheques, and he went on spend $50,000 acquire an influx of talent from several sources. Adams added Harry Oliver, goalie Hal Winkler, Percy Galbraith, Duke Keats and Harry Meeking to the team. It was also bolstered by trades that brought in former Canadiens' Billy Boucher and Billy Coutu.
Adams coup de grace however, was latching onto a franchise cornerstone in defenseman Eddie Shore from the collapsing Western Hockey League. The 24 year old Shore, was just hitting the prime of his career, one in which he would literally carve out a reputation as one of the game's most feared players, as well as one of it's more rock solid defenders. Shore's impact and future success, would go on to define the Bruins franchise and stamp it with an inimitable identity. With Shore leading the way, the Bruins would begin making great leaps towards the top of the standings. In their third season of existence, they became legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
With the NHL now split into Canadian and American divisions, the Bruins finished second to the Rangers, with a 21-20-3 record. The playoff setup matched them against the third place Blackhawks, and the Bruins took the two game total goal series 10-5. In a showdown in which the winner would compete for the Stanley Cup, the Bruins were off to Madison Square Garden to duel it out with the upstart Rangers in another total goals series. After playing to a scoreless tie in Manhattan, the Bruins headed home to down the Rangers 3-1, gaining a berth in a best of five Cup final with the league leading Ottawa Senators.
The city of Boston was abuzz at the Bruins Stanley Cup prospects, and manager Ross received 29,000 applications for tickets to the final's games. If it hadn't been made abundantly clear that hockey had arrived in The Hub by then, this fan manisfestation spoke loud and clear that Beantown was becoming a hockey hotbed.
Boston began their challenge in Ottawa on April 7, and other scoreless tie ensued. The clubs dueled it out two nights later, with Ottawa outlasting the Bruins 3-1. Boston returned home two nights later, and in front of a frienzied hometown crowd, they managed to knot the Senators in a one all draw. With two dates remaining in the series, Ottawa led 4 points to 2.
The Bruins' fate was decided in a 3-1 loss to Ottawa on the 11th, but it hardly dampered spirits in Boston for very long. Acting in response to the overwhelming fan support for the team, Adams endeavored to built the city an arena capable of meeting the demand for seeing the team.
While plans were being made to build the new arena in Boston, the Bruins moved one step closer and two more back in their pursuit of Cup glory in 1927-28. For the first time, they won the American division of the NHL with a franchise best 51 points, yet were beaten out in the first round of the playoffs by the rival New York Rangers, losing 5-2 in a total goals series. The loss camouflaged accomplishment and growth in the Bruins camp that season, as the team added key elements that would make them a force to be reckoned with for years to come, as youngsters Dutch Gainor and Dit Clapper arrived on scene with great promise.
When the 1928-29 season began, a new arena awaited the Bruins. Built in part with money from Rangers' and Madison Square Garden owner Tex Rickard, the Boston Garden was a unique structure, whose close confines would in some ways, define what the Bruins were to become even moreso than the players the team iced.
Originally named "The Boston Madison Square Garden", the arena was designed by Rickard to be most suitable for boxing audiences. In his designation, he sought a building in which fans furthest from the bouts would still see the "sweat on boxer's brows".
The Garden opened on November 17, 1928, and was located above the North Train station, a hub for commuter and Amtrak trains. Slightly narrower and shorter than other NHL rinks, the arena housed seats which were much closer to the action regardless of the sport played on its surface. Over time, the Boston Garden earned a reputation as a dauting arena to play in, and the gathered local masses had a loud say in becoming an unwelcomed adversary to opposing teams. Fans at the furthest reaches of the rink, could often be heard screaming and ranting loud and clear at rink level. The Garden, in a sense, became a virtual lion's den for weary foes.
In the offseason, the Bruins made several key addition to their already strong lineup, adding centers Cooney Weiland and Mickey Mackay. In goal, Cecil "Tiny" Thompson arrived on the scene, to begin what would play out as a legendary career. A change in the coaching guard was also in the offering, as NHL veteran Cy Denneny took over from Art Ross, as a player / coach.
The Bruins played their first game at the Garden - a 1-0 loss to the Canadiens on November 20, 1928. In a season most noteworthy for a lack of scoring, the Bruins managed 89 goals in the 44 game schedule, while allowing only 52 - second best to the Canadiens, whose goaltender George Hainsworth posted an incrdible 22 shutouts. Boston won the American division with 26 wins and a franchise best 57 points - 2 back from the Canadiens overall.
The playoff format of the day, had divisions winners meet in a best of five series in the first round, with the victor moving directly on to the best two of three Stanley Cup finals. Time would prove the format to be somewhat anti - climactic, but in this season, the Bruins were all too ready for the Canadiens, who had lost but seven games over the course of the season.
With the first two games at the Garden, and the final three at the Forum in Montreal, the trap was sprung for the Bruins to gain an early edge with a win or two on home ice. Before a rowdy hometown crowd, Thompson shutout the Canadiens in back to back Bruins' wins, and Boston headed to Montreal with their eyes on the prize. The Bruins clinched their date with destiny on March 23, beating the Habs 3-2, in a wildly contested road game. All that would stand between the Bruins and Lord Stanley's mug were the New York Rangers, who the Bruins had beaten five times out of six during the regular season.
The Rangers, defending Stanley Cup champions, were perceived as no easy foe. New York's best had made it to the final in a clean sweep as well, having lost not one contest against the Americans or the Maple Leafs along the way. The best of three series opened on Broadway on March 28, at Madison Square Garden. The Cup final would become the first in NHL history between two American based teams.
Goalie "Tiny" Thompson, again shone in the showdown's opener, shuting the Rangers out 2-0, for his third playoff blanking in four games. Bruins manager Art Ross had made a daring move, replacing goalie Hal Winkler with Thompson prior to the season's start. The Minnesota Millers' pickup, seemed to make all the difference this season, between Bruins teams past and present.
Game 2 at New York's Madison Square, was packed with over 14,000 fans looking to see their Rangers even the series. Here is a full account of the Bruins Cup clinching game from Grover Theis of the New York Times, courtesy of the excellent Backcheck site.
Bruins Take Stanley Cup Series in Two Straight Games, Dethroning Champions.
GOAL BY CARSON DECIDES
Breaks 1-1 Deadlock With Two Minutes Left in 3d Period -- Oliver Makes First Goal.
KEELING'S SHOT TIES SCORE
Comes in 6:48 of the Last Session -- 14,000 See Stirring Game in the Garden.
By GROVER THEIS.
It was only after a dazzling third period, however, that Boston wrestled the cup from the previous champions. Les Patrick's men went into the final session one goal behind and there seemed to be every likelihood that they would stay there because of the strong Boston defense. Butch Keeling, hero of two of the playoff games that landed the Rangers in the final series, then counted in 6:48 after Harry Oliver had scored in 14:01 of the second period.
The rather slim crowd for a championship game roared itself hoarse at Keeling's achievement and was looking forward to overtime and perhaps sudden death play, when Bill Carson dashed their hopes with a flashy shot with two seconds less than two minutes to go in the final session.
Bruins Favored in Betting.
The Bruins opened favorites in the betting at odds 8 to 5, but just before action started 7 to 5 could be had in favor of Boston.
After the faceoff Eddie Shore made the first onslaught on the Rangers' goal, upsetting Taffy Abel on his way. Ching Johnson was bowled over soon afterward. Bill Carson drew the first penalty for elbowing.
The Bruins were full of fight, however, and they made several assaults upon Roach, none of which, however, got far beyond the Blue line. In one of them Hitchman was banished for holding.
Neither side was taking many chances. Bill Cook ventured forth on one occasion, but despite the fact that he got by Shore he could not connect. Abel was sent off a moment later for tripping. While the Rangers' forces were thus reduced the Bruins sent down a sortie and Gainor made a thrust on which Roach had to jump to complete the save.
The Blueshirts were far more animated than the night before in Boston, and as Keeling and Murdoch got out on the ice, the Bruins had all they could do to prevent a score, the pair of them combining neatly to give Tiny Thompson all sorts of trouble. The Bruins were not slow to retaliate, for Bill Carson made a sizzling drive at Roach. Galbraith and Carson again advanced in much the same manner to give John Ross something to worry about.
Hitchman Sent Off Ice.
As the Rangers unloosed a new offensive Hitchman was sent off for tripping as the period ended. A recapitulation of the session showed the Rangers were playing a much faster game than they displayed the night before in Boston. Their defense gave the changing forward line plenty of time to roam even if the Rangers could not penetrate Boston's stalwart defense.
The saves for the period were ten for Thompson to seven for Roach.
The Rangers opened the second period with a lot of pretty skating and passing, but they always found a carefully devised Bruin defense breaking up their efforts.
The action was confined mostly to the blue lines with the first big thrill coming when Oliver crashed down on Roach and the disk almost went in on a rebound that hit Abel's skate. It was not long before Oliver was banished for elbowing. The Rangers tried to take advantage of this and Bun Cook made a daring sortie, but Thompson stopped the flying disk.
Bill Cook a moment later was banished for carrying a high stick, otherwise known as slashing. He had hardly climbed over the boards before Eddie Shore went off for the same offense and then Bun Cook emulated his brother and also went off for slashing.
The rising tide of penalties reflected the rising speed of the game. The Bruins put themselves in the lead with a sudden dash by Harry Oliver, who stick-handled his way right through the Ranger back lines to score in 14:01.
The red light had barely been extinguished when Dit Clapper took a rebound from Connie Weiland and nearly repeated. Roach saved by less than an eyelash. Then Roach was menaced again when Clapper took Hitchman's rebound off the boards just before the bell sounded. The gallant New York goalie was kept busy and distinguished himself by his work, despite Oliver's shot which got by him.
With three goals scored against them in the second period of the two Stanley series games, things looked dark for the Rangers as they entered the third period. In Boston on Thursday it was Clapper and Gainor who wrecked the Rangers' hopes in the second period. Ranger fans, however, clung to the desperate hope of a Ranger come-back. Nevertheless they feared the solidity of the Bruin defense with a one-goal advantage.
Oliver almost added to the Boston lead at the very outset of the third period when he twisted his way around Abel and Johnson for a quick shot which Roach, however, was able to stop.
Murdoch Tries for Goal.
Out to equalize the count, the Blue Shirts darted forth with all the daring they have and Murray Murdoch lashed a furious drive at Thompson, which the latter had a hard time to stop. As play resumed another flashing Ranger came out of a scrimmage, and again the Ranger hopes ran high, only to find Tiny playing the role of nemesis.
Meanwhile, the Bruin defense was always organized, with the Rangers sending man after man up there in an effort to equalize the count. Manager Patrick suddenly shot Butch Keeling into the line-up and right from a face-off Keeling did the trick in 6:48.
Butch got the pass on the face-off on the Blue line, and with a few steps and a short snap put the disk past Thompson. The goal elicited a roar from the crowd comparable to the roars that greeted the Bruin goals in Boston Garden the night before. However, the showers of paper were missing to make the scene the same.
When the shouting had died down, Shore went to the penalty box for two minutes for elbowing. Replacements came out in rapid succession as Ross and Patrick matched their wits. The Bruins and the Rangers swarmed all over the ice in their wild efforts to get an advantage.
As the teams stormed against each other, Bill Carson took a pass from Oliver and put the Bruins ahead in 18:02, while both teams were scattered around the Ranger net. It was a shot that seemed to come from nowhere, but it settled the Stanley Cup issue.
Penalties : Hitchman, W. Carson, Abel, two minutes each
1 -- Boston, Oliver 14:01
Penalties: Bill Cook, Oliver, Shore, Bun Cook, two minutes each
2 -- Rangers, Keeling 6:48
3 -- Boston, W. Carson 18:02
Penalties: Shore, two minutes
Referees: Mallinson and Hewitson.
Here are some final notes on the members of the 1929 Boston Bruins.
Boston became one of the few teams in Cup winning history to not lose a single game in the playoffs, and the last team to pull off such a feat until 1952.
As was often the case with earlier winners of Stanley Cups, there are several stories contained in the engravings on the trophy. In 1928-29, the Bruins decided they would use the remainder of the ring that the 1927 Ottawa Senators had put on the Cup. Without enough room to include every official member of the winning team, they left off the names of Red Green, Ed Rodden, and Lloyd Klein.
When the Cup was redone during the 1957–58 season, Green, Rodden, Klein were added, although they failed to meet the credentials at the time. The team also erroneously included the names of Hal Winkler (minors, retired), and Eric Petteringer and Frank Fredrickson (traded from Boston, as was Green) and under NHL Rules should not be on the cup).
By mistake owner Charles Adams and George Owen were left off the cup, even though there was more than enough room to include them. From 1958 to 1993 the 1929 Boston Bruins were on the Stanley Cup in 2 different places. One beside 1927 Ottawa winners, and also on first larger ring with winners from 1928 to 1940.
Sometime in the late 1960's, the original ring featuring the 1929 Bruins win went missing, never to be found. It was rumoured - though never proven - that the Canadiens had somehow stolen the silver band, and melted it down into a miniature commemorative Stanley Cup for retired coach Toe Blake.
An unsung hero, Harry Oliver played on a line with Carson and Galbraith and this treesome caried the team to victory. Carson started Boston on the winning path with a great solo rush to open the scoring in the deciding Game 2 against the Rangers.
Bill Carson's contract had been purchased by Boston from Toronto in the off season. Carson scored the Cup winning goal with less than two minutes left in the final game.
Dutch Gainor was considered the best passer in the league in 1929, and he was the key cog in the Dynamite line's offensive thrust. The trio would dominate the NHL in 1929-30.
Dit Clapper's real name was "Victor" - which became "Dit" as a result from a childhood lisp. He would later become the first player in NHL history to play 20 for one franchise.
Lionel Hitchman, who often played with injuries, was known to have a very high pain tolerance. Paired on defense with the inimitable Eddie Shore, the duo were the fearsome of it's day. Hitchman was an RCMP officer during the summer months.
Eddie Shore was pretty much hated everywhere he played - outside of Boston. Despite being detested, he was extremely respected for being a two way force in the game. At one extreme, Shore would brutalize opponants with his tactics and at the other he would generate offense like few defenders before him.
Myles Lane was a Dartmouth College graduate upon joining the Rangers in 1928. Traded to Boston in his rookie season, he was a Cup champions a mere two months later.
George Owen's father was an MIT professor, who had moved his family from Ontario to Massachusetts. George himself, attended Harvard, where he starred on the Universary football team.
Percy Galbraith came very close to being a career Bruins, playing all but two of his 347 career games in Boston. After starting out as a 26 year old in Boston in 1926-27, he was a Bruin until the start of the 1933-34 season. After a trade sent him to Ottawa, many esteemed that Galbraith purposely played poorly for the Senators to incur his release after two games. He was quickly snapped up by Boston, where he played another 42 games.
Mickey Mackay spent a decade with the Vancouver Millionaires of the PCHA, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1915. Between the West Coast and Boston, Mackay missed a year of action following an altercation with Cully Wilson that left with a broken jaw.
Cooney Weiland started his first season in Boston on a line with Gainor and Clapper, forming the soon to be feared "Dynamite Line", one of several great lines the Bruins teams would boast over the years.
Goalie Tiny Thompson was the Bruins playoff hero in 1929. Replacing venerable vet Hal Winkler at the start of the season, Thompson posted three shutouts and allowed only five goals in three playoff games. In the finals against the Rangers, Thompson faced his brother Paul in the only sibling confrontation in the playoffs until the Esposito brothers some 40 years later.
Winkler was so well thought of by team mates, that although he retired prior to the season's start, the Bruins players saw to it that his name was engraved along with theirs on the Cup, in memory of his contribution to the team.
Hockey legend Cy Denneny was the odd beneficiary of a Stanley Cup engraving anomaly in 1929, in that his names appears twice on the Cup, for the same season. As a coach and player, Denneny's name is oddly mispelled in the first inference as "Cy Denenny" and the latter as "C Denneny".
In a true Cup engraving rarity, Redvers "Red" Green's name appears on the Cup with Boston, although he finished the season as a member of the Detroit Cougars.
Team owner Charles Adams grew up a woodsman in the Quebec wildlife, where he spent his winters. As a boy, he found work in a grocery store. He would later own a racetrack and a ball team before purchasing the Bruins.
Considered by many to be a true hockey genius, legend Art Ross went into officiating immediately after his retirement as a player, where he used a bell rather than a whistle to signal play dead. Stories abound about Ross' upbringing in the game. Growing up around Montreal, he learned his hockey in the early 1900's on an outdoor skating rink known as "Le Forum" - the same patch of land that later housed the Canadiens famous arena. There he competed and played with a host of future Hall Of Famers, including the Patrick brothers, Lester and Frank. Later on as a coach, he was reknown for smoking in the dressing room between periods. His most infamous gesture in calling out players was a hard tap to his own head, followed by the words, "use it!'