Probably the most memorable sweater number retirement ceremony in Boston Bruins history occurred on Dec. 3, 1987 when Raymond Bourque surprises the legendary Phil Esposito and delighted the fans at the old Boston Garden. Bourque removed his number 7 sweater, the one Esposito made famous, to reveal that he would now be wearing number 77 so 7 could be raised to the rafters forever.
Esposito and Bourque were among seven Bruins who wore number 7 before it was retired. However, there have been 11 numbers worn by just one player in the team’s storied 96-year history, including Bourque’s 77, which was also retired on Oct. 4, 2001 following a career that saw him suit up in four separate decades. Coincidentally, 11 numbers have also been retired or honored by the team, with a handful falling into both categories.
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Of the retired numbers, 2, 3 and 77 were only ever worn by one Bruins player. We’ll start with that elite few in our look back at the numbers that were only ever chosen by one player.
#2: Eddie Shore (1926-1940)
Shore’s name is synonymous with the phrase “old-time hockey.” Joining the Bruins in the team’s infancy, his number 2 jersey was retired the same year he hung up the skates. As a result, the well-known brawler never gave another player the chance to choose that number.
#3: Lionel Hitchman (1924-1934)
Hitchman’s name may not be as easily recognizable as Shore’s among modern-day fans, but he played with the Bruins from the team’s inception. Like his defensive partner Shore, Hitchman’s number 3 was retired soon after he retired in 1934. He was a member of Stanley Cup winning teams with the Ottawa Senators in 1923 and the Bruins in 1929.
#77: Ray Bourque (1988-2000)
Bourque amassed 1,579 points in his 1,612 career that was played almost exclusively with the Bruins. Although he sought and was granted a trade to a contender to finish out his career, Bourque’s number 77 will never again be worn by another Bruin. He was selected by Boston eighth overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft and is listed by the league as one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players.
#88: David Pastrnak (2015-Present)
One number currently worn by a current Bruin will almost certainly join those already hanging high above the ice. That is the number 88 sweater worn by superstar forward David Pastrnak. So far, the 24-year-old Pastrnak is the only one to have worn that number in team history.
Even though Pastrnak is still young, there is no doubt that the Czech phenom is one of the best scorers in the league. In fact, he claimed a share of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy for the shortened 2019-20 regular season, tying Washington Capitals captain and scoring machine Alex Ovechkin with 48 goals. He was also named the Most Valuable Player of the 2020 All-Star Game.
#80: Dan Vladar (2020)
Vladar was drafted by the Bruins in the third round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he has split time between the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, R.I., and its Atlanta Gladiators ECHL affiliate. Although he has not appeared in a game in a Boston uniform, Vladar is considered one of the top goaltender prospects in the organization.
#82: Trent Frederic (2019-Present)
A hard-hitting St. Louis-born center, Frederic was drafted by the Bruins 29th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft. He has played a total of 17 games with the big club, including the Nov. 15 and Nov. 16 contests in the 2019-20 season. To date, he has not been able to break onto the official score sheet in the Spoked-B, but he has been called upon a few times to provide depth at center.
#86: Kevan Miller (2014-Present)
Miller was an important member of the Bruins’ defensive core before suffering a knee injury during the 2018-19 season. Since then, numerous setbacks have kept him out of action for more than a year.
The undrafted University of Vermont product has played for only the Bruins in his 324 NHL games to date. Despite injury issues, Miller said recently he hopes to play again.
#89: Zdenek Blatny (2006)
Blatny may well be the least known name on this list. The Czech winger was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the second round of the 1999 draft. His NHL career consisted of 25 games, five of which were played in Boston during the 2005-06 season.
#90: Marcus Johansson (2019)
Johansson may not have been a Bruin for long, but he made quite an impact during his time in Boston. The Swedish forward was drafted by the Washington Capitals 24th overall in the 2009 draft. He played there for seven seasons, and then for the New Jersey Devils, who traded him to the Bruins just before the 2019 trade deadline.
In Boston, he put up one goal and two assists in 10 regular-season games. However, he really made the acquisition count in the team’s deep 2019 playoff run by contributing 11 points in 22 games.
#91: Marc Savard (2007-2011)
Savard finished his 14-year NHL career with 807 points, with his stellar contributions spread out over stints with the New York Rangers — who drafted him in the fourth round of the 1995 draft — Calgary Flames, Thrashers and Bruins. Unfortunately, Savard may be best known for the fact that his career was ended after a hit to the head inflicted by Matt Cooke left him with long-term, severe post-concussion symptoms.
More to Come
A total of 13 numbers have not yet been worn by any player in Bruins history. Those numbers are 66, 69, 78, 84, 85, 87, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 and 99. However, with players born in even the late 1990s now old enough to break into the NHL, and with so many of the lower numbers being retired after being worn by the stars of yesteryear, you’d have to think a lot of those will start to be snatched up soon.
I am a 46-year-old journalist living in the greater Pittsburgh area with my husband and two cats. I am a proud Penn State University alum. Hockey is life. Not much else needs to be said.