Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, John Paul Bucyk was accidentally given the nickname "Chief" after a Boston sports cartoonist mistook him for a native Canadian due to his dark features.
The nickname stuck, and throughout his many years with the Boston Bruins organization, Bucyk has lived up to the moniker many times over.
The new year of 2007 is very special for Bucyk as it signifies the Chief's 50th with the Boston Bruins organization -- having arrived in Boston in 1957 following two seasons in Detroit.
Bucyk has played numerous key roles for the Boston Bruins both on and off the ice and remains an integral part of the organization.
As a player, Bucyk played with the Bruins for an amazing 21 seasons and during this time with the Black & Gold, Bucyk participated in 1436 games, tallied a team record 545 goals, had 794 assists (2nd in team history), and earned 1339 overall points (also good for second in Bruins overall scoring).
Throughout his many seasons playing for the Bruins, John played alongside many fellow Boston hockey greats, including Bobby Orr, Gerry Cheevers, Ken Hodge, Phil Esposito, Terry OReilly, as well as fellow line partners Vic Stasiuk and Bronco Horvath.
But beyond his numerous statistical achievements, Bucyk captained the B's for five seasons, was twice named the winner of the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most gentlemanly player, received the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in the United States, and helped lead the organization to the pinnacle of hockey greatness, twice, with two Stanley Cups victories -- the first in 1970, the organization’s first Stanley Cup since 1941, and then again in 1972.
“Bobby Orr flying through the air in 1970 to score the game winning goal in the old Boston Garden," said Bucyk when asked his favorite, most exhilarating memory. "Then, being Captain of the team at that time, I accepted the Cup."
"That was definitely the most exciting time,” he said.
Following his amazing 21-season run with the Boston Bruins as a player Bucyk's renowned number 9 was retired to the rafters of the old Boston Garden in 1980.
Then, just one year later in 1981, Bucyk was given the most prestigious individual honor any professional hockey player may garner as he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Obviously his career, both on and off the ice, is a testament to persistence and determination.
Always remaining personally successful, Bucyk did experience organizational ups-and-downs, primarily during the mid 1960s when the Bruins found themselves struggling to attain victories.
But despite unsuccessful playoff standings, the loyal Chief remained committed to the city of Boston and opted to stay put with the club, even though many other organizations would have surely gone to great lengths to acquire him.
“I loved the people of Boston and I loved the organization," he explained. "When I look back on it, I’d have to say it paid off."
"Here I am 50 years later.”
After his retirement from competition, Bucyk has remained fully involved with the Boston Bruins organization and has fulfilled a number of vital functions, including public relations, radio broadcasting, as well as the role of Alumni Coordinator.
A vital link between the great Bruins teams of the past, Bucyk serves as the Team Road Services Coordinator, assisting the current Bruins players and coaching staff, which he finds fun and enjoyable, stating that, “helping out and just staying a part of organization” is most important to him.
In addition to Boston Bruins involvement, Bucyk is also involved with many charitable foundations and causes and Bucyk works closely and actively with the Children’s Glaucoma Foundation.
Bucyk previously served as the State Chairman for the Heart Association for over 20 years.
On the rare occasions that he is not either traveling with the team or helping coordinate team services from his office at the TD Banknorth Garden, you’ll find Chief fishing, golfing and relaxing with family in his native Edmonton.
But by remaining an active and integral part of the Bruins organization, and with two Stanley cups and numerous records and trophies under his belt, Bucyk has proven, without a doubt, why he remains the "Chief" of Boston Bruins hockey, both on and off the ice.
-----Jill Merchant recently finished her stint as the Media Relations Intern for the Boston Bruins and will graduate from UMass-Amherst in the very near future.