A look at the Boston Bruins’ All-Decade team for the 1980s
This is part of a series detailing the all-decade team for every NHL franchise for the 1980s. The all-time teams were compiled using a mix of skill, longevity and statistics; it is not necessarily the best, most memorably or most talented players. Instead, this is the list of players by each position who had the best numbers over a prolonged period (i.e. at least three full seasons between 1980-81 and 1989-90) during the regular season. A complete list is available here.
Team: Boston Bruins (1980-81 to 1989-90)
418-285-97, .583 Win PCT, 3,095 GF vs. 2,636 GA, +459 Diff, 10/10 Playoff Appearances, 0 Stanley Cups
Boston was a powerhouse during the 1980s. Their 58.3% win percentage ranked fourth in the decade, on the strength of their defense: the Bruins allowed 3.30 goals against per game, second only to the Montreal Canadiens (3.14). Their offense was no slouch either, ranking eighth at 3.87 goals per game. Their +459 differential put them fourth behind super-dynasty Edmonton, defensive juggernaut Montreal and high-flying Philadelphia. The Bruins did not win any cups, but they did have two appearances in the Stanley Cup finals (losing to Edmonton in 1987 and 1989). They also made the playoffs every season during the decade.
Left Wing: Charlie Simmer (198 GP, 98-98-192, +46, 136 PIM, 14 GWG)
Boston hasn’t exactly had a wealth of talent on the left wing, but for a brief period of time they had a strong talent in Charlie Simmer. A former member of the Triple Crown line in Los Angeles, Boston acquired Simmer for a first round pick. Simmer missed significant time with injuries in two of his three seasons, but he still managed to score 33, 36 and 29 goals in his three seasons. He also cleared the 60-point mark in each year, and was a healthy +46 during his 198 games in Boston.
Centre: Barry Pederson (347 GP, 163-245-408, +95, 240 PIM, 30 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Ken Linseman
Looking at Barry Pederson’s stats in Boston, it’s somewhat understandable as to why Vancouver was willing to part with Cam Neely to get him. Pederson put in four full seasons and parts of two others with the Bruins, and he was a point-per-game player throughout. He had two 40+ goal seasons, and posted point totals of 107 and 116 respectively in the ’82-83 and ’83-84 seasons. He also had a positive +/- rating in his four full seasons, and was +95 overall during his 347 games in Boston. Impressively, 18% of his goals were also game-winners, so he was strong in the clutch.
Right Wing: Rick Middleton (579 GP, 279-339-618, +118, 83 PIM, 36 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Cam Neely
Neely was a close candidate for this position: he was a fan favourite, scored 170 goals in four seasons (including 55 in ’89-90), and had 625 PIM. But Middleton was a core part of some successful Bruins teams, and he logged eight seasons in Boston. Middleton had four consecutive seasons where he contributed 44-51 goals and 94-105 points. He was also never a negative +/- player, and was +118 overall in eight years as a Bruin. All-in-all, he had two 30-goal seasons, three 40-goal seasons and one 50-goal to go along with two 100-point seasons. He was even a threat on the penalty kill, scoring 24 short-handed goals.
Defense: Ray Bourque (714 GP, 213-562-775, +327, 555 PIM, 33 GWG)
Could there be anyone else in the #1 D slot? Bourque was an all-time player by any standard. In ten seasons, he never scored fewer than 17 goals or 56 points, five times finishing above 80 points (including twice in the 95-96 range). He was a rock defensively as well, only once dipping below +20 (+17 in ’85-86), and six times he was +30 or better. He wasn’t afraid to mix it up either, posting 50+ penalty minutes eight times. The man was a hall of famer if ever there was one.
Defense: Mike O’Connell (361 GP, 62-177-239, +72, 265 PIM, 8 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Brad Park
O’Connell was a solid two-way defenseman for Boston in the first half of the 1980s. In four-and-a-half seasons with Boston, he cleared 50 points three times and scoring 10+ goals four times. He was only negative once for +/- (-1 in 48 GP during the ’80-81 season).
Goalie: Pete Peeters (171 GP, 91-57-16, 9 SO, 2.99 GAA, 0.883 PCT)
Peeters had three full seasons in Boston, all of declining quality: he was great in ’82-83, decent in ’83-84, and pretty bad in ’84-85. But there really wasn’t much to pick from in the Boston net in the 1980s (Andy Moog unfortunately straddled the 80s and 90s, which left him in the cold for each decade). Still, Peeters did have a 40-win, 8-shut-out season in ’82-83 where he won the Vezina and made the NHL First All-Star team. He also played in the 1983 and 1984 all-star games as a Bruin. Unfortunately he couldn’t maintain that level of excellence, and he was traded to Washington for Pat Riggin after 8 appearances in the ’85-86 season.