Rangers assistant coach and longtime Boston Bruins great Terry O’Reilly
will have his number 24 raised to the rafters tonight at the FleetCenter as the Bruins honor one of the most fearless players to ever lace up a pair of skates. Prior to tonight’s Bruins-Senators game, O’Reilly will join the legendary likes of Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Milt Schmidt and Ray Bourque, an elite class of athletes that have provided hockey fans with many memorable (and for Rangers fans - forgettable) moments. He is the ninth player in Bruins history to have his number retired.
“It will be an unbelievable night for me,” said O’Reilly. “The names and numbers that are up there – those are exceptional athletes, not just in hockey but in all sports. Orr, Esposito, Bourque, Bucyk, Schmidt – there’s such a tremendous history there. It’ll be a tremendous honor for me, for sure. My parents will be in town from Canada to be with me and my two sons will be by my side as well. It’s going to be a great night for me.”
O’Reilly played his entire 14-season career with the Bruins from 1971-72 to 1984-85, collecting 204 goals and 402 assists for 606 points in 891 games. The rugged right winger sits atop many of Boston’s all-time lists, ranking fifth in games played, seventh in assists, eighth in points and 12th in playoff points (67). O’Reilly is Boston’s all-time penalty minutes leader at 2,095 - 543 more minutes than the next player on the list. Among right wings in Bruins history, he also ranks first in games played, sixth in goals, second in assists and third in points. Always looked upon as a leader by his teammates, O’Reilly served as Boston’s captain from 1983 to 1985.
Following his career as a player, O’Reilly turned his focus to coaching, where he served as Boston’s bench boss from 1996 to 1989, guiding the B’s to a 115-86-26 record in 227 games behind the bench. The highlight of his head coaching stint was his trip to the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals against the Glen Sather-led Edmonton Oilers.
“Terry was the ultimate competitor,” said Sather. “He never took a night off and was willing to do whatever was necessary to make his team successful. Without question, he was the heart and soul of the Bruins teams he played on.”
After several years away from hockey, O’Reilly returned to the sport he loved this past summer, joining Jim Schoenfeld and former Bruins teammate Ted Green as an assistant coach on Bryan Trottier’s coaching staff in New York.
“For me, being back involved in the game is great,” he said recently. “You really don’t realize what you’re missing until you get back involved in the game. The smell of the hockey rink, the locker room humor – it’s a great atmosphere to be a part of. I’m happy to be back in hockey.”
No Bruins players has worn number 24 since O'Reilly's retirement as a player following the 1984-85 season and after tonight’s ceremonies at the FleetCenter, no Boston player will ever wear it again. The Rangers would like to congratulate Terry on this very special night in his life.
___________________________ THE O’REILLY FILE:
Born: June 7, 1951 - Niagara Falls, Ontario
#24 - Right Wing
6'1" / 200 lbs.
1st NHL Game: April 2, 1972 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
1st NHL Goal/Point: April 2, 1972 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
1st NHL Assist: October 29, 1972 vs. New York Islanders
Most Goals, Game: 3 (November 10, 1977 vs. Los Angeles)
Most Assists, Game: 4 (3x; last February 18, 1981 at Vancouver)
Most Points, Game: 5 (1-4=5, February 20, 1979 at Colorado)
* Spent the majority of the 1971-72 season with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate and was recalled by Boston for the final game of the regular season … Made his NHL debut on April 2 vs. Toronto, collecting his first NHL goal/point that night.
* Shares a Bruins club record with three career playoff overtime goals, scored April 26, 1977 at Philadelphia, April 19, 1978 vs. Chicago and April 21, 1980 at NY Islanders.
* Appeared in the NHL All-Star Game on two occasions (1974-75, 1977-78)
* Posted career highs with 29 goals and 61 assists for 90 points during the 1977-78 season … Also recorded a career-high 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 15 post-season matches that same year.
* Registered a career-high 265 penalty minutes in 1979-80.
* Posted a 17-19-1 record in 37 playoff games coached with the Bs, including a five-game series win over Montreal in the 1988 Adams Division Final - the club's first playoff series win over the Canadiens since 1943.GREATEST NHL MOMORIES
“During the course of my career, both as a player and a coach, there have been some real highs and real lows that come to mind. I remember waiting in the hotel in Vancouver as a team awaiting word on the condition of Nornamd Leveille, who had collapsed in our game due to a brain aneurysm. He had been rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery.”
“I also remember defeating Montreal as a coach in 1988. They had beaten us for years and years (45 to be exact) in the post-season and to finally get past them was rewarding. I remember we had a two goal lead and I was watching the clock tick down to 15 seconds, thinking ‘they still had time to tie it up.’ The it got down to 13 and 12 seconds and thinking, ‘I don’t think they (Montreal) can do it’ And I started to feel real comfortable around seven seconds. After all of those years of Montreal getting a late goal or beating us in overtime, it was a very satisfying victory.”
“There are a lot of great games and goals that I can recall, but I think the moment that struck me the most was ‘The Last Hurrah’ where there were all the great past and present Bruins skating around the ice before the closing of Boston Garden. Just to be part of that community was great. Normand Leveille was there. I remember helping Milt Schmidt around the ice. It was amazing to look at the great generations of hockey players and all of the history that I was a part of. It was very special for me.”RELATED LINKS:A Gritty Salute to O’Reilly
- www.nhl.comTerry O’Reilly Night