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The Chief Remains in Charge

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- At the Garden and with the Boston Bruins on the road, Johnny "Chief" Bucyk is an omnipresent figure and has been since he joined the B's in 1957.


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Thursday, as the Boston Bruins celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup Championship, Chief was again front and center as he addressed the adoring Garden crowd. 

But, as usual, Bucyk's day started by working hard for the team that has been his passion for over 50-years.

"It’s great," said Bucyk of the anniversary celebration. "I haven’t had a chance to see everyone yet, I’ve been busy with the current team doing their stuff and their tickets.

"But I’m looking forward to it," said Bucyk a-matter-of-factly. "It should be a great night."

Obviously, things have evolved since Bucyk played.

"I think the game has changed so much," he said. "Sticks, for instance.

"I had never seen so many sticks get thrown [away] in one game. Even now when I play the game, I use wooden sticks...I feel they’re a better stick because you get a better feel of the puck. The hooks are different.

"I looked at some of the sticks, some of the curves and, my God, they look like they should be on the propeller of an airplane," continued Chief. "They’re just so different I can’t see how they can control the puck.

"I used to use a pretty straight stick. Almost straight with a little hook at the end so I could lift it in the top corner."

Chief hit the corners a lot -- 556 times, in fact. And although the game may have changed, Chief hasn't. Still as straight a shooter as ever wore skates, Bucyk hits his marks everyday as the Hockey Hall of Famer puts his heart and soul into the Black & Gold and constantly looks forward to the next game, road trip or practice.
 
Thursday, looking backward for once, Chief talked about his memories of the 1970 playoffs when his now long-retired #9 was front and center in front of opposing goaltenders as the B's broke a Stanley Cup drought.

"I remember a couple things," he said of that series. "I remember a game in St. Louis, I think it was the second game [of the Stanley Cup].

"I got a hat trick, can’t forget that."

And nobody can forget Bucyk's skate around the Garden with The Jug.

"To me that was probably one of the highlights of my career," said Bucyk to the reporters gathered in the Garden to cover the event at the TD Garden. "That was the first Cup we won in many years."

Like his good friend Bobby Orr, the picture of Bucyk carrying the Cup around the Garden has earned Chief many appearances in hockey highlight films over the years. Before that Cup, Bucyk had seen some lean times in Boston, but had been a stalwart on a team that had underachieved. But when the Bruins finally regained Lord Stanley's prize, Bucyk cemented his place in Black & Gold lore.

"It was the first Cup that I’d been on...and I was very proud and excited to be able to skate around with it, especially here in Boston," said Bucyk. "I think that meant a lot to our fans because they were so loyal and so good.

"I was fortunate because I was basically the captain that year and I accepted the Cup and I skated around with it alone."

"It’s not a solo thing anymore. Now it’s a whole team thing where everybody gets a hold of it. I was able to grab it and just skate around with it and enjoy it."

He wasn't the only one. Thanks for everything, everyday Chief.
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