November 15, 2008

Brad Park Hated The Bruins, Then He Became One

The New York Rangers play host to the Boston Bruins tonight at Madison Square Gardens.

The Bruins have had a definite advantage over the Rangers over the many years. The Bruins post a winning record of 277-235-97-3. The Rangers are stronger at MSG though, posting a 136-117-55 record at home.

The Bruins and Rangers have had a lot of interesting clashes over the years, as you might expect in any rivalry involving Boston and New York City.

One of the most interesting had to have been the big Phil Esposito trade for Jean Ratelle and Brad Park in 1975.

Espo was getting on in age but he still believed he was the scoring superstar of the early 1970s. He would not relinquish his playing minutes, so the Bruins traded him while his value was high.

High indeed. Not only did they get the smooth Ratelle in return, but the also landed Park. (Joe Zanussi also went to Boston, and Carol Vadnais to the Rangers). Back in these days of the Bobby Orr's Boston Bruins, Brad Park was arguably the second best defenseman in the league.

Like Park to Orr, his New York Rangers were always second fiddle to the Bruins. There was certainly a bitter rivalry, and no shortage of animosity.

Park in particular was quick to speak out in the media. He called the Bruins, "blood thirsty animals" who "have turned present-day hockey into a brutal sport."

He was quick to single out certain Bruins' players, too.

Players like Derek Sanderson.

"I got to my hotel room and turned on the television and there was Derek Sanderson, Mr. Wise Guy of the Bruins. As usual his comments made me sick. He opens his mouth when he shouldn't. Like a small boat in distress he ought to shape up.

He was not complimentary of Sanderson's play on the ice either.

"What bothers me most about Sanderson is his flakiness. At any given time he doesn't know what he's going to do and he has no concept of hockey ethics."

He had no respect for Ted Green, even though Green had suffered a serious skull fracture in the infamous 1969 stick fight with Wayne Maki. When Green returned to the ice. Park didn't care, saying "Many people believe Green got exactly what he deserved, because he was nothing more than a hatchet man. After he recovered and returned to the NHL, I thought he might have learned something from the experience. But he hasn't. He's still carrying his stick high and doing the same dumb things he did before he got hurt.

Later he added "It's people like Green who give hockey a bad name. He can't be trusted. He swings at players with his stick, and his stick is always up."

Even Bobby Orr was targeted by Park, although that made him look like a jealous poor sport.

"One of the myths about hockey is that Bobby Orr is unstoppable. Another myth about Orr is that he's a gentlemanly and clean player. Actually, Orr can be a hatchet man just like some of his Boston teammates.

Park also sniped at Phil Esposito, the Bruins' fan favorite. "He's an extraordinary stickhandler and a superb shooter, but he doesn't have any guts. He's carried by the animals on the Boston team.

As you can see, the Boston-New York hockey rivalry was especially heated in the 1970s, with Brad Park eager to unleash a verbal salvo. The Bruins fans were ready to fight back, armed with boos and colorful language every time he came to town.

You can also imagine how interesting things got after November 7th, 1975 when Park was traded to the Boston Bruins with Jean Ratelle and Joe Zanussi for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.

The trade was uncomfortable for Park, who openly cried and considered not reporting. The only thing that could have been worse is if the Red Sox traded for a Yankee's starting pitcher.

But Park's cerebral play would quickly win over the fans. His new teammates surprisingly welcomed him with open arms. Park told the Hockey Hall of Fame website "Johnny Bucyk, in particular, was very helpful. Bobby Orr was just super, as a person as well as a player. "

Also See:
Espo Learned To Love Big Apple . . . Eventually - NHL.com
Park, Espo Still Feel Impact Of Blockbuster Trade - NHL.com

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