Throughout the 95-year history of the Boston Bruins franchise, there have been 11 different instances of a player reaching the 50-goal mark. Those 11 instances of 50-plus goals are made up of five different players who will forever live in Bruins’ history as legends. Interestingly enough, the 11 different 50-plus goals seasons all came within a span of 24 years between 1970 and 1994 without any player in Bruins’ history reaching the 50-goal mark prior to the 1970-71 season or since the 1993-94 season.
Five-Time Member of the Bruins’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 76 goals during the 1970-71 season
Scored 66 goals during the 1971-72 season
Scored 55 goals during the 1972-73 season
Scored 68 goals during the 1973-74 season
Scored 61 goals during the 1974-75 season
It’s fair to say that Phil Esposito is the best goal-scorer in the history of the Bruins and one of the best scorers in the history of the NHL. Just how impressive was Esposito’s run as a member of the Bruins? Of the 11 different instances of a player scoring 50 or more goals in the spoked-B jersey, Esposito did so five times.
The 1970-71 season not only saw the Bruins’ first 50-goal scorer, but it saw the team’s first two 50-goal scorers as Esposito would crack the mark first and eventually score an astounding 76 goals in just 78 games. The second player to do so, who will be mentioned later on in more detail, was the “Chief” Johnny Bucyk.
Esposito’s 1970-71 season did more than just mark the first time a Bruins’ player would reach the 50-goal mark. He would also set the all-time goals-scored record in a single season with his 76 tallies, a mark that would only be broken over a decade later when Wayne Gretzky would score a hat trick to record his 77th, 78th and 79th goals in the 1981-82 season.
Esposito would also set the single-season point-scoring record at the time with 152 points before Gretzky would eventually set the new mark with 215 points in 1985-86.
In the history of the NHL, only five players have ever scored 150 points or more: Esposito, Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman and Bernie Nicholls. Only Gretzky, Lemieux, Esposito, Teemu Selanne and Alexander Mogilny would score 76 goals or more in a single season.
Esposito’s 50-goal scoring trend wouldn’t be a one-time thing for the Bruins, as mentioned, and it actually became something of an expected feat in the years to come. Esposito would follow up his 76 goals in 1070-71 with 66 goals in 1971-72, 55 goals in 1972-73, 68 goals in 1973-74 and 61 goals in 1974-75. He’d score six goals in 12 games in 1975-76 before he was traded to the New York Rangers in one of the most notorious trades in NHL history.
He’d have continued success with another 184 goals in 422 games in New York but he’d never quite reach the 50-goal mark again.
Member of the Bruins’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 51 goals during the 1970-71 season
Few players are more synonymous with the Bruins franchise as the “Chief” Johnny Bucyk. Though he started his career with the Detroit Red Wings for his first season and a half of play, there’s no denying that Bucyk is and always will be a Bruins through and through.
During his 21 seasons with the Bruins, Bucyk would score 545 goals and 1,339 points in 1,436 games. He’d eclipse the 20-goal mark 16 times, scoring over 30 goals multiple times and even reaching 40 goals in 1972-73.
His best season, however, would come in 1970-71, the season in between the Bruins two Stanley Cup victories in 1969-70 and 1971-72, when he’d score a career-high 51 goals, 65 assists and ultimately 116 points in just 78 games.
This was the only time in Bucyk’s career that he’d score 50 goals, making him just the second member of the Bruins in history to do so as Esposito had done so earlier in that very same season.
Related: Anaheim Ducks’ 50-Goal Scorers
Prior to Bucyk and Esposito reaching the mark, only Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadiens as well as Bobby Hull (four times) of the Chicago Blackhawks had reached the 50-goal mark in NHL history.
Member of the Bruins’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 50 goals during the 1973-74 season
When Ken Hodge played for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1964 until 1967, he scored a grand total of 16 goals and 57 points in 132 games. When the Bruins and Blackhawks made a blockbuster trade that saw Esposito, Hodge and Fred Stanfield sent to Boston in exchange for Jack Norris, Pit Martin and Gilles Marotte, the Blackhawks actually felt they pulled one over on the Bruins.
As history would have it, however, the Bruins won the trade with the acquisition of Esposito alone. Adding in Stanfield and Hodge just made it even more clear that the Bruins came out like the bandits in this deal.
This was even more apparent when considering the fact that Norris played in just 10 games for the Blackhawks (allowing 32 goals) and Marotte would play in two-plus seasons in Chicago. Martin actually had a successful run with the Blackhawks but it paled in comparison to the acquisitions Boston made.
When looking at Hodge alone, he’d score 25 goals and 56 points in his first season in Boston before scoring an impressive 45 goals and 90 points in his second season with the Bruins.
Though Hodge would score 105 points twice in his career, the best instance of this came in 1973-74 when he’d score a career-high 50 goals, making him just the third different Bruins to qualify for the 50-Goal Club.
It’s safe to say that the trade that saw Esposito and Hodge (two of the members of this illustrious club) shipped to Boston played a big role in shaping a franchise that would be one of the most dominant in the entire NHL in the early 1970s.
The Bruins would later trade Hodge in a one-for-one deal for the next player on this list.
Member of the Bruins’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 51 goals during the 1981-82 season
Rick Middleton is a Bruins legend who personified consistency throughout his entire tenure with the team. Though he’d be successful in his two seasons as a Ranger with 22 goals and 40 points in 47 games in his rookie season and 24 goals and 50 points in 77 games in his sophomore season, he’d reach new heights in a Bruins’ uniform.
During his time in Boston, Middleton would score a very impressive 402 goals and 898 points in just 881 games. He would become one of the best players in the history of the Bruins franchise and even saw his number raised to the rafters in 2018, 30 years after he last suited up for an NHL game.
While Middleton would score at least 20 goals in all but two of his professional seasons (both instances of him failing to reach the mark saw him skate in just 49 games and 59 games respectively), “Nifty” as he was so often described by the Bruins’ faithful would have his most success from 1978-79 until 1983-84 as far as goal-scoring and point production goes.
In those seasons, Middleton would score 40 goals and 92 points, 44 goals and 103 points, 51 goals and 94 points, 49 goals and 96 points and 47 goals and 105 points respectively. That type of success made him a fan-favorite in Boston. A well-deserved distinction, given the fact that he was only the fourth different player to register at least 50 goals in a Bruins’ sweater when he scored 51 in 1981-82.
It’s not every day a team can trade a player like Hodge in a one-for-one deal and come out the clear winner in the transaction. Following his trade to the Rangers, though, Hodge would score just 23 goals and 68 points in two seasons in New York, including two goals and six points in 18 games in 1977-78 as he’d spend the majority of his season in the AHL.
The Bruins were able to reap the best years of both Hodge and Middleton throughout their careers.
Three-Time Member of the Bruins’ 50-Goal Club
Scored 55 goals during the 1989-90 season
Scored 51 goals during the 1990-91 season
Scored 50 goals during the 1993-94 season
It may seem crazy, but the Bruins traded away Barry Pederson who had scored 166 goals and an impressive 417 points in 379 games across seven seasons in Boston and actually came out the big-time winners in the deal.
The team would acquire Neely and the Canucks’ first-round pick. That first-round pick would end up being used on Glen Wesley who would later be traded for another three first-round picks from the Hartford Whalers. While the trade tree would be one of the most convoluted and impressive hauls seen in the history of the NHL, Neely alone was well worth the return for the Bruins.
Not only did Neely go on to be one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the Bruins, becoming only the second player to score over 50 goals in multiple seasons for the team, but Pederson would also only score another 72 goals in his career split between the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Hartford Whalers.
Neely had scored a total of 51 goals in his first three NHL seasons prior to the trade. He’d score another 344 goals in 525 games in Boston before ultimately becoming the team’s President.
Perhaps the most impressive feat that Neely accomplished in the NHL came during the 1993-94 season when he’d score 50 goals in 44 games.
The trade would continue to haunt the Canucks decades later when Neely as the team’s president and Milan Lucic, one of the many pieces recouped as a result of the original trade tree, would win the Stanley Cup in 2011 against Vancouver.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.