Bruins’ Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade

Bruins' Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade The Aughts marked the third straight decade without a Stanley Cup championship for the Bruins. But despite the lack of a title for the Hub's hockey team, there were plenty of other events that defined the decade for the Bruins.

Significant trades, front office changes and heartbreaking postseason defeats are what the Bruins from 2000-2009 will be remembered for. So let's take a look back at the defining moments of the last 10 years of Bruins hockey. Plus, be sure to check out NESN.com's Bruins team of the decade.

10. Bruins hire Peter Chiarelli
The last front office regime of the Bruins traded away the team's franchise player and watched the club fall to the basement of the Eastern Conference before change was finally made.

Making the playoffs had become routine in Boston over the last few decades, but that all changed when the team fell into obscurity in the middle of this decade. After trading Joe Thornton, the Bruins failed to make the playoffs the two years following the lockout.

The Bruins hired Peter Chiarelli as general manager on May 26, 2006, looking to dramatically change the direction of the franchise.

In Chiarelli's first three seasons with the Bruins, the team has improved every season in search of the franchise's first Stanley Cup since 1972.

9. Bruins hire Claude Julien
On June 19, 2007 the Bruins hired Claude Julien, the former head coach of the Canadiens and Devils.

Julien led the Bruins back to the postseason in his first year at the helm in 2007-08, despite a team many projected to finish last. The next season, the Bruins finished atop the Eastern Conference in the regular season before losing in the conference semis to the Hurricanes.

Julien was awarded for his efforts by signing a multiyear extension prior to the start of the 2009-10 season with the goal of returning the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals.

8. Bruins trade for Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander
Playing for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins got a
boost on March 3, 2004 when they traded for the Capitals defenseman Sergei
Gonchar
in exchange for Shaone Morrisonn and two picks in the 2004
draft.

A day later, the Bruins got even more help when they acquired
Michael Nylander from the Capitals in exchange for two picks in the
2005 draft.

Gonchar and Nylander helped the Bruins earn the top seed in the
East, and both were productive in their short time in Boston.

Gonchar had nine points in 15 regular season games with the Bruins
and five points in the seven-game series against the Canadiens.

Nylander had 12 points in 15 games regular season games with the Bruins and six points in six games against the Canadiens in the playoffs.

7. Bruins bring Canadiens to the brink
Just about every hockey media outlet with a voice picked the Bruins to finish last in the Eastern Conference in the 2007-08 season. But the young and inexperienced B's found a way to slip into the postseason in the final week of the season, grabbing the No. 8 seed in the East. The only problem was they would face the Canadiens — who were 8-0 against he Bruins in the regular season — in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bruins trailed 3-1 in the series but pulled out a huge win in Montreal in Game 5 to send the series back to Boston for a Game 6.

The Bruins overcame three deficits in Game 6 to tie the game and took the lead with 4:15 left to play. But the Canadiens quickly tied the game 11 seconds later to quiet the Boston crowd.

With 2:37 remaining, the Bruins scored the go-ahead goal and the eventual game-winner, holding on to force a Game 7 two nights later in Montreal.

The Bruins fell 5-0 in Game 7, but for a team that wasn't supposed to make the playoffs and wasn't supposed to compete with the Canadiens, it was quite a ride all the way.

6. Scott Walker ends Bruins' season
In 2009, the Bruins reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since '98-99 to face the Hurricanes. After falling behind in the series 3-1, the Bruins led Game 5 in Boston with 2:47 left when Hurricanes forward Scott Walker threw a haymaker to the face of Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward. Walker was given a fighting major, a minor for instigating and a game misconduct for the incident, and later was fined $2,500.

Controversy surrounded the play because Walker did not receive a suspension, despite the fact that NHL Rule 47.22 states that "A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime, shall automatically be suspended for one game."

The Bruins pushed the series to Game 7 in Boston, and with 1:14 left in the first overtime, old friend Scott Walker got behind the defense to knock in a rebound to end the game, the series and the Bruins' season.

5. Bruins sign Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas joined the Bruins organization in 2001, making his NHL debut during the 2002-03 season. But it wasn't until three years later that Thomas would become Boston's starting goalie.

After returning from Europe to play in North America in 2005, Thomas was assigned to Providence to begin the 2005-06 season. But injuries to Andrew Raycroft and Hannu Toivonen forced Thomas into a full-time starting role for the first time in his career at the age of 31.

Thomas began the next season as the backup to Toivonen once again but became the starter again as Toivonen struggled. And once the Bruins signed Manny Fernandez for the 2007-08 season, it was expected that Thomas would resume his backup duties once again, but he regained his starting job for the third straight year. The Bruins had a permanent starting goalie for the first time in a long time.

Thomas' career of hard work and determination paid off during the 2008-09 season, when he won the Vezina Trophy and was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. He led the NHL with a 2.10 goals-against average and .933 save percentage during the season.

4. Joe Thornton injured prior to 2003-04 playoffs
When the Capitals' Todd Rohloff slashed Joe Thornton's right wrist in the third-to-last regular season game of the 2003-04 season, he virtually ended the Bruins' chances at reaching the Stanley Cup finals.

The injury turned out to be more serious than expected as Thornton missed the last two games of the regular season and was not a factor against the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.

Thornton finished the seven-game series loss to the Canadiens with no points and a minus-6 rating, leading to No. 3 …

3. Bruins blow 3-1 series lead to Canadiens
The Bruins held the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs in the
2003-04 season and earned a first round matchup against the rival Canadiens.

The B's jumped out to a 3-1 series lead thanks to a pair of
overtime victories and were headed back to Boston with chance to
clinch the series at home to advance to the conference
semifinals for the first time since the 1998-99 season.

In Game 5, the Bruins outshot the Canadiens 44-30, but Canadiens goalie
Jose Theodore stood on his head, while Bruins rookie goalie Andrew
Raycroft
struggled mightily at the end of the series. The Canadiens won Game 5 by a 5-1 score and went on to win three straight
games, stunning the Bruins in Game 7 in Boston 2-0. Over the final
three games of the series, the Canadiens outscored the Bruins 12-3.

2. Ray Bourque traded to Colorado
The Bruins started off the decade with a bang, trading the staple of
their franchise to the Avalanche. Ray Bourque was traded to Colorado
with Dave Andreychuk in exchange for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier,
Samuel Pahlsson and a first-round draft pick.

In the middle of his 21st season with the Bruins, Bourque was given
a final chance to win a Stanley Cup at the age of 39. In his first season in Colorado, the Avalanche lost in seven games in the Western Conference finals to the Stars. But a year later, in his first full
season in Colorado, it all came together.

The Avalanche beat the Devils in seven games, as Bourque was
finally able to hold Lord Stanley's Cup. On top of the hockey world
for the first time in his career, the Bruins' all-time leading scorer
finally got his chance to win. It just happened to be away from Boston.

1. Joe Thornton traded to San Jose
Not many teams trade away their franchise player during an MVP season. Actually, no team in the history of professional sports has traded away a player during an MVP season, except for the Bruins.

On Nov. 30, 2005, the Bruins sent Joe Thornton to the Sharks in exchange for Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and Brad Stuart. At the time, the former No. 1 overall pick had nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 23 games.

Since leaving Boston, Thornton has not missed a single game with the Sharks, scoring 442 points in 342 games. And since the trade, Sturm, Primeau and Stuart have totaled 328 points in the NHL, while Sturm remains the only player involved in the deal still with the Bruins.

Thornton leads the NHL in points this season with 54 (10-44) in 38 games played.

***
Dec. 28: Bruins' Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade

Dec. 29: Celtics' Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade

Dec. 30: Patriots' Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade

Dec. 31: Red Sox ' Top 10 Defining Moments of the Decade

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