The team is honoring the NHL Hall of Famer tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden for five decades of dedication and service to the Bruins' family.
Among his many services to the organization, taking a teenager named Bobby Orr under his gentle wing when No. 4 arrived from Parry Sound, Ontario, ranks among his best.
"Chief did that for all the young guys who came along, including myself," said Derek Sanderson, the famed "Turk" of the Big, Bad Bruins era, now a 60-year-old investment broker.
"I sat next to him in the dressing room for seven years," Sanderson reflected. "There's no finer person out there. Imagine 50 years with one organization? He deserves all the accolades. I don't think Detroit realized his greatness when they traded him (for Terry Sawchuk). They probably thought it was a flash in the pan deal.
"He was one tough player," said Turk. "He won the Lady Byng Trophy (for sportsmanship); he became a great goal scorer and playmaker; he played the game every night, never taking a night off; he played hurt; and, then, appropriately had his jersey retired."
Johnny McKenzie, "Pie" to friends, said he originally wasn't too thrilled to be traded to the Bruins by the New York Rangers in 1966.
"Chief was the one who made me happy that I did go to the Bruins," McKenzie said.
Bucyk on the left, Fred Stanfield in the middle and McKenzie on the right. That constituted one of the lines that left an indelible mark on the old Garden.
"That was pretty unreal, the way we clicked," McKenzie said. "It was uncanny how we all knew where each other would be. We'd pass to a spot and there was always one of us there to collect it. Of course, it helped to have a Hall of Famer on the line. Give him the puck in a scoring situation and it always ended up in the net."
Sanderson was one of Chief's biggest admirers, and it had more to do with Bucyk's help off the ice.
"He always looked after the younger guys ... Gregg Shepard, Donnie Marcotte. The list could go on and on. He'd even help them get settled, usually around Danvers on the North Shore. I was a little bit wild. I wasn't Route 1 material. Chief sort of gave up on me," Sanderson laughed. "I was a downtown Boston guy."
For 45 of his 50 years with the club, Bucyk has been a "Boxford guy," one of the town's treasures. He's now 71, retired as an active player after the 1977-78 season.
His free time these days is spent fly fishing, golfing and, of course, fund raising for several charities, including the Boston Bruins Alumni.
His Bruins' legacy may cover 50 years, but Chief's NHL history extends another two years 52. People are inclined to forget his two years with the Detroit Red Wings. Bucyk actually got called up for a winning Cup year with the Wings, but did not get one of those big, fat diamond rings.
But he did receive a championship ring.
"I never asked to be traded. I sat on the bench, picking up splinters, observed, and practiced hard in Detroit. I had 11 goals in two years, and my ice time was limited You had to be patient," recalled the respectful Bucyk. "You were in the big league, and don't forget there were only six teams, just 20 players on each time, 120 in all."
Were it not for the celebrated trade that then Bruins' GM Lynn Patrick pulled off, swapping goalie Terry Sawchuk for Bucyk, Chief will be the first to tell you that his epic journey to Boxford never have materialized.
It led to the formation of the "Uke Line" in Boston in partnership with Vic Stasiuk (who introduced Chief to Boxford) and Bronco Horvath. The "Uke Line" was an appropriate monicker. All three were of Ukrainian descent.
Many must have thought Bucyk was called Chief because of an Indian ancestry. Not true.
"They called me Chief because I took care of the younger players and their adjustments when they got to camp," he said.
"The three of us played on the same line with the Edmonton Flyers in the Western League (in Bucyk's hometown). It was only a half season. Vic was up with Detroit and got traded to Boston. Bronco had gone to the Rangers. Lynn Patrick remembered how well we played together in Edmonton. He got me for Sawchuk, Bronco came on and we had six great years. I was traded in July. The first year I drove from Edmonton to Boston with Stasiuk. I rented Pat Egan's home in Arlington. I was a 22-year-old kid.
Those early years with the B's were hard to, sorry about the pun, "bear."
"The first three years weren't too bad, but from 1960 to 1967 we never got to the playoffs," he said. "We were always battling the Rangers for last place, to stay out of the cellar. We both had bad teams, I guess, not enough firepower. But we started to rebuild when Harry (Sinden) came and we ended up winning championships. We had some powerhouses."
Bucyk's teams struggled to fifth or sixth in a six-team league for eight straight years.
Orr's arrival from Bethlehem ... oops ... Parry Sound, was the catalyst, but even the incomparable No. 4, who would become the greatest player in NHL annals, couldn't lift the B's out of last place in '67.
Soon enough Sanderson was in town, The mega trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that brought Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Stanfield (for Gilles Marotte, Pit Martin and Jack Norris) was a bonanza and pretty soon the Garden was an automatic sellout (13, 909, remember?). The Bruins would drink from Lord Stanley's Holy Grail in 1970 and 1972. The Bruins owned the town in the late 60s and early 70s.
At the height of the World Hockey Association hysteria Bucyk got a big money offer from Minneapolis, but was too devoted to the Bruins to even consider it. Staying was the best move he ever made, Bucyk said.
"Who knows how long I would have lasted in Detroit?" said Bucyk, a one-time first baseman at the intermediate baseball level in Edmonton. "Compared to what I've done here? I did some scouting for Harry after age caught up with me. Bob Wilson got me on radio as his sidekick. I can't say enough about him. I was really treated royally by management over the years."
He's literally done everything for the Bruins organization except drive the Zamboni.
The ex-captain has also worked in public relations, been an assistant coach, headed alumni services, and presently has the title of Road Service Coordinator. It means being the traveling secretary, involving him with travel, buses, players' tickets, team meals, hotel accommodations, flights and all the necessities.
The joke in Bruins' Country is the B's haven't replaced him at left wing since he hung up his skates at 42. It's no joke. It's the stark truth.
Bill Kipouras is a staff writer at the Salem News. He can be reached at 978-338-2615, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.