Terry O’Reilly

They called him “Taz”.

You can guess why.

He was born in Niagra Falls, Ontario but when he brought his Irish Heritage to the City of Boston in 1971 it was as if he had belonged there his entire life.

Former Bruins coach and GM Harry Sinden once said of him, “He was the model of a Bruins player to his teammates and fans alike.” What that meant was he brought an unparalelled work ethic and sense of toughness to his play that was an essential part of the Bruins teams of that era and the working class fan base who adored them and demanded that sort of dedication from their hockey team. Terry O’Reilly embodied that spirit, playing every shift with intensity and heart.

He was a ferocious fighter who would take on all comers with quarter neither asked nor given. He was one of the reason’s other teams feared coming into the old Boston Garden because they knew, win or lose, they would leave bruised and battered. If you wore another team’s uniform, you were his enemy.

He was also a fairly talented right wing in terms of scoring. In 1977-78 he had 29 goals and 90 points, the following season totals of 26 and 77. He finished his career with a respectable 204 goals, 606 points and a monster 2095 PIM’s. He was a team captain and, eventually, a coach, leading the team to the 1987-88 Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers.

His number 24 was raised to the rafters in October of 2002. Not that the Bruins staff had ever let anyone else wear it in the 17 years since he had retired. A little something called Respect.

He has remained here in the town that adopted him and, by all accounts, is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Which is a good thing because there’s not a red-blooded hockey fan in Boston who wouldn’t want to sit down and buy the guy a beer.

Go figure.

I still get chills every time I watch that video.


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