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by Alan Nakkash
The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston, Massachusetts. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).
The team has been in existence since 1924, entering the league as the first United States-based expansion franchise. They are also an Original Six team, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Chicago Blackhawks.
Boston currently has the second highest total of Stanley Cup championships won by an American team at five, with the Detroit Red Wings winning 11. Their home arena is the TD Garden, where they have played since 1995 after leaving the Boston Garden (which had been their home since 1928).
After a 3-4-1 start, the Bruins fired head coach Pat Burns and went with Mike Keenan for the rest of the way. Despite a fifteen-point improvement from the previous season, the Bruins missed the playoffs in 2000/01 by just one point. Leading scorer Jason Allison led the Bruins.
The following season, 2001/02, the Bruins improved again with another thirteen points, winning their first Northeast Division title since 1993 with a core built around Joe Thornton, Sergei Samsonov, Brian Rolston, Bill Guerin, Mike Knuble and the newly acquired Glen Murray. Their regular season success did not translate to the postseason, as they lost in six games to the underdog eighth-place Canadiens in the first round.
The 2002/03 season found the Bruins platooning their goaltending staff between Steve Shields and John Grahame for most of the season. A mid-season trade brought in veteran Jeff Hackett. In the midst of a late-season slump, general manager Mike O’Connell fired head coach Robbie Ftorek with nine games to go and named himself interim coach. The Bruins managed to finish seventh in the East, but lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils in five games.
In 2003/04, the Bruins began the season with ex-Toronto Maple Leaf goalie Felix Potvin. Later in the season, the Bruins put rookie Andrew Raycroft into the starting role. Raycroft eventually won the Calder Award that season. The Bruins went on to win another division title and appeared to get past the first round for the first time in five years with a 3/1 series lead on the rival Canadiens. The Canadiens rallied back, however, to win three straight games, upsetting the Bruins.
The 2004/05 NHL season was wiped out by a lockout, and the Bruins had a lot of space within the new salary cap implemented for 2005/06. Bruins management eschewed younger free agents in favor of older veterans such as Alexei Zhamnov and Brian Leetch. The newcomers were oft-injured, and by the end of November, the Bruins team traded their captain and franchise player, Joe Thornton (who went on to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies). In exchange, the Bruins received Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau from the San Jose Sharks.
After losing ten of eleven games before the trade, the Bruins came back with a 3/0 victory over the league-leading Ottawa Senators, as rookie goaltender Hannu Toivonen earned his first career NHL shutout. When Toivonen went down with an injury in January, journeyman goalie Tim Thomas started sixteen straight games and brought the Bruins back into the playoff run.
Two points out of eighth place at the Winter Olympic break, the Bruins fired general manager Mike O’Connell in March and the Bruins missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Peter Chiarelli was hired as the new GM of the team. Head coach Mike Sullivan was fired and Dave Lewis, former coach of the Detroit Red Wings, was hired to replace him. The Bruins signed Zdeno Chara, one of the most coveted defensemen in the NHL and a former NHL All-Star, from the Senators, and Marc Savard, who finished just three points short of a 100 point season in 2005/06 with the Atlanta Thrashers, to long-term deals.
The 2006/07 season ended in the team finishing in last place in the division. The Bruins traded Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to the Calgary Flames for Andrew Ference and forward Chuck Kobasew.
The 2007/08 season ended on a bright note for the Bruins when they forced the Canadiens to play a seven-game playoff series, including a memorable Game 6 in which Boston came back to win 5/4.
Although Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was injured with a concussion most of the season, youngsters Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Vladimir Sobotka and Petteri Nokelainen showed promise in the playoffs.
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