Right-winger Terry O’Reilly epitomized the “lunch bucket” crew of the Boston Bruins in the 1970s and ’80s. A hard-nosed grinder who fought for every square inch of ice, he scored 204 career goals and was an emotional leader of his team.
The native of Niagara Falls, Ontario played junior with the Oshawa Generals of the OHA. The Boston Bruins took him 14th overall in the 1971 Amateur Draft. After a solid rookie pro season with the AHL’s Boston Braves in 1971-72, O’Reilly was elevated to Boston the next year and remained a fan favourite for the next 13 years.
The tenacious winger hit the 20-goal mark four times and helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup final and semi-finals three times each. He often formed an effective team with centre Peter McNab and various left-wingers such as John Wensink and Al Secord.
Although he was regularly among the league leaders in penalty minutes, O’Reilly’s success in other areas of the game was acknowledged when he was chosen to play in the 1975 and 1978 All-Star games and selected at the Boston captain for two years. The old warrior retired in 1985 after going full in nearly 900 regular season games.
O’Reilly was soon hired as Boston’s assistant coach and replaced the fired Butch Goring as the team’s bench boss in 1986-87. In 1987-88, he led the Bruins to only their third playoff win against the Montreal Canadiens in 22 series confrontations on the way to reaching the Stanley Cup finals. O’Reilly was let go after he was unable to duplicate the success of the previous year in 1988-89.