100 Years, 100 Boston Bruins Greats
The Boston Bruins turns 100 years old this season. The team was founded in 1924 and was the first National Hockey League team to play in the United States. Upper Deck recently released a boxed set commemorating 100 of the best players to wear the black and gold – and sometimes brown and gold – for Boston.
Costing around $50, the Bruins Centennial Box Set contains the entire 100-card set. You also get four parallel cards and one insert card, while some sets may also have a card autographed by a famous Bruins player.
Here is a closer look at the set’s design, player selection – and if it is worth buying.
Player Selection (4 out of 5)
The set contains 100 different player cards, so all the big-name Bruins you’d expect are found here. Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Phil Esposito, Eddie Shore, Gerry Cheevers, Cam Neely, Johnny Bucyk, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara are some of the B’s legends included in this set.
There are also many fam favorites who, though not in the Hall of Fame, made their mark in Boston, like Terry O’Reilly, Rick Middleton, Wayne Cahsman, Andy Moog, Ed Johnston, Gord Kluzak, Mike Milbury, and Andy Brickley, among others.
Willie O’Ree – the first Black man to play in the NHL – and longtime Coach/GM Harry Sinden are also in this set. So are many current Bruins stars, such as Brad Marchand, Linus Ullmark, and David Pastrnak.
But a few famous Bruins are missing. Milt Schmidt – who played 16 seasons for the Bruins, coached the team for another 11 years, and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, is notably absent. So are his teammates Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart, who are also in the Hockey Hall of Fame. The trio of Schmidt, Bauer and Dumart formed the Bruins’ famed “Kraut Line.”
Goaltender Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek, who spent nine of his 10-year Hall of Fame career with the Bruins, is also not in this set. Nor is Don Cherry, the famous broadcaster who played his only game with the Bruins and later coached the team for five seasons, winning coach of the year honors in 1976.
However, there are some rather odd inclusions in this set. While it is cool to see Jacques Plante in a Bruins uniform, he only played eight games for the team at the end of his NHL career. (Plante later returned to play a season in the WHA.) There are also cards of “bit” Bruins such as Rick Nash (11 games), Butch Goring (39 games), Brian Propp (14 games), Brian Leetch (61 games), and Paul Coffey (18 games). All great players, but cards of Schmidt, Bauer, Dumart, and Brimsek would have been better for a set that is supposed to be, in effect, of the all-time greatest Bruins players.
Front Design (5 out of 5)
The design of these cards is darn-near perfect. Each player is superimposed in front of the “Spoked B” Bruins logo that has been synonymous with the team for over 70 years. The Bruins’ centennial logo, along with the player’s name and the years they played in Boston, anchor the bottom of the design. The Upper Deck logo in the upper-left corner, the Bruins’ centennial logo, and a pair of stripes at the bottom are embossed in silver, giving the cards a little visual flair.
Stats & Info / Back Design (5 out of 5)
The player’s photo, vitals like height and weight, and a short paragraph about the player’s time in Boston are on the back. So are up to four years of statistics, along with their career totals from Boston. While I would love for all stats with Boston to be included, that would be difficult to do with some players, like Ray Bourque, who played 21 seasons with the Bruins.
Inserts & Parallels
Each Bruins Centennial Box Set contains five additional cards: four are parallels, and one is a “Beantown Classics” insert.
Yellow Parallels swap out the silver foil for yellow ink. You get three random Yellow Parallels per set. These look just OK, as the detail on the Bruins Centennial logo are a bit hard to read when printed in yellow. It looks kind of like a yellow mushroom.
Gold Spectrum Parallels replace the silver ink with a shiny gold ink – and look awesome! The shiny gold foil meshes better with the black-and-gold design of the Bruins cards – as well as the Bruins uniforms – and has a rainbow sheen to it when the light hits it. Had Upper Deck used the Gold Spectrum foil on the actual set instead of the silver foil, the design of these cards would be perfect.
An insert set called “Beantown Classics” highlights 20 of the most-popular Bruins players, using a collage or “corkboard-like” design on the front. You get one Beantown Classics insert per box, which makes putting this 20-card insert set a bit of a challenge.
One in every 10 boxed sets contains an autographed card. My boxed set did not have an autographed card. Some of the possible autographs include Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, Joe Thornton, Gerry Cheevers, Brad Park, and Mark Recchi.
The Boston Bruins Centennial Box Set sells for $50. It contains the entire 100-card set, four parallels card, and one “Beantown Classics” insert card. One in every 10 sets has an autographed card.
Other than missing a few Bruins’ greats from the Original Six Era, the Bruins Centennial Box Set is about as good as it can get. You have all of the big names from recent history that most hockey fans – regardless of their favorite team – would remember, players who were huge in Boston then, and players who are popular on the team now. It’s a little bit of a bummer that you only get one “Beantown Classics” insert per set, because the design of those is so good. If you are a hockey card collector who also appreciates hockey history, then the Boston Bruins Centennial is worth owning. But if you are a Bruins fan, then this set is definitely something you must have in your collection.
Follow Sal Barry on X/Twitter @PuckJunk. ■