Terry O'Reilly

Boston sports fans love their sports heroes unlike any other city. Larry Bird. Bobby Orr. Ted Williams. Carl Yastremski. Bob Cousy. Terry O'Reilly.

Terry O'Reilly?

Terry O'Reilly wasn't the best skater, or the best scorer, or the best playmaker. In the storied history of the Boston Bruins he is far from the best player to ever wear the black and gold, but no one played harder or endeared himself more to the Boston faithful.

His Irish heritage certainly didn't hurt either.

A less-talented version of Cam Neely, O'Reilly was the heart and soul of the Bruins. He out-hustled every opponent, crashed and banged with reckless abandon, and played every shift as if it was game seven of the Stanley Cup finals.

Don Cherry said "Terry typifies our team. He's tough, really tough, and that's the way I like em'. I know a coach isn't supposed to like one player more than another, but I can't help it in regard to Terry O'Reilly."

He is the first person who comes to mind when someone uses the phrase 'a true Bruin'," says Harry Sinden. "He was the model of a Bruins player to his teammates and fans alike and that phrase is a high compliment because of Terry."

Terry started out as a goalkeeper until he was 13. Perhaps that explains his plodding skating style that everyone said would prevent him from ever turning pro. As a junior Terry had problems initially sticking with the Oshawa Generals. He turned down a scholarship offer with St. Louis University in order to prove the Generals wrong. Soon enough his desire and leadership qualities were so strong that he not only became a regular, but also the team captain and best player.

The Bruins selected him with their 2nd choice and 14th overall in the 1971 draft. Throughout his career it was always Terry that was the first player on the ice when his team practiced and the last off. This devotion and dedication paid off later on in his career when he became the captain for the Bruins.

Terry played mostly on checking lines the first couple of seasons and scored 27, 35 and 35 points before getting 23 goals and 50 points in 1975-76.

In 1976-77 O'Reilly discovered a solid chemistry with center Peter McNab. The line, often featuring Al Secord on left wing, became a serious offensive threat. O'Reilly would crash and bang in the corners and more often than not would come out with the puck. He showed nice hands and hockey sense, setting up 41 goals, often by McNab, and collecting 55 points. The following season saw O'Reilly set career highs as he led the Bruins with 61 assists and 90 points. His hard work earned him two trips to the All-Star games in 1975 and 1978.

His strong offensive play continued through the end of the decade, but it is his abrasive physical game that was always his meal ticket. To his credit, Terry never forgot that, although injuries finally caught up with him in the early 1980s.

"Taz" had a great sense of humour and was always quick to offer a joke on himself, downplaying his talents and often pointing attention to his skating ability or lack thereof. When traveling between the games you seldom found Terry without a book in his hand. He was always reading something, best sellers, fiction or non-fiction. He was also a serious chess player and an avid antique collector who liked to scour through many of the antique shops around New England. While playing he continued his education part time at Boston University and the University of Toronto.

Terry quit after the 1984-85 season to the dismay of the Boston fans who had taken the "Irishman" to their hearts during his career in Beantown. Injuries, most notably a knee injury that cost him much of the the 1982-83 season. He later coached the Bruins but quit to spend time with his children.

O'Reilly had a total of 606 points (204 goals and 402 assists) in 891 games and an excellent career +/- rating of +212. He not surprisingly remains the Bruins all time leader in penalties with 2095 minutes served. Terry is the prototypical NHL player who was successful because of passion, grit and a lot of hard work more so than talent.

How important was he to the Bruins? Take a look up in the rafters. Hanging by the retired jerseys of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Eddie Shore is O'Reilly's number 24. There is no greater honor in the city of Boston.


Anonymous,  1:26 PM  

Hi Terry
My name is Cindy Burke and I understand that you have a son that has the same disease that my
daughter has Biliary Atresia and
I would love to meet with you both.
We have been thru alot since Kyleigh was born and she is doing well right now but as you know this disease has no age preference and hopefully she can go on like your son. If you could email me
my email address is
Hope to hear from you

Cindy and Kyleigh Burke

Anonymous,  8:31 PM  

Terry O'Rielly, what can one say that hasn't already been said? As a Bruins fan growing up in the 70's and 80's he was a hero. No other player gave more to any team and it's fans than O'Rielly did for the Boston Bruins. Terry did it all and could change the whole tempo and mood of a game with a single goal, hit, or fight. You could tell his teammates loved him as they seemed to follow his lead at every turn. I know it's almost become cliche in Bruins legend but it's true, he was the heart and soul of the Bruins.

When he left the game we lost something. Not that there weren't some great players or teams to follow but I don't think the Bruins ever played again with that level of passion as they did when Terry led them. He was a great player, leader, and later a damn good coach. I wish he would have given a few more years in that regards as a lot of young players coming into the NHL could learn a great deal about what team work, commitment and hard work mean both on and off the ice. For all his on ice tough guy demeanor he was a true gentleman and humanitarian off it. Players, more so men, like Terry, well, they just don't make them anymore.

Here's to you Terry. We love you, Go bless you and yours. And thanks for the memories.

Unknown 12:28 PM  

terry im 9 but i think you are one of the best fighters ever in the nhl i loved the time when you climed over the glass and beat up that guy i saw it on youtube then all the big bad bruins came right behind you. i play hockey too for the medford mustangs. can u come to see me some time? sinserely, gio

Anonymous,  9:10 PM  

hi Terry - I just watched an interview with Peter McNab and he spoke so highly of you on a personal a kid, everyone alaways pretended they were an NHL-er....and everyone I played with said I was "Terry O'RiellY"...I am 40yrs old so I remember you in the 70s..I remember the Bruins team that had something silly like 8 20-goal point of writing is to tell you that you were / are an inspiration to working class hockey playes who are team guys and scratch and claw for everything they son has just started playing hockey and he is a scrapper, a scorer and a team guy...aka the Terry O'Rielly protype.

Hope life has treated you well since your days with the Big Bad Bruins

Best Regards,


dwayne 4:45 PM  

my names is dwayne and a long time bruins fan since i was a child.Iam the one who shook your hand at walgreens.Iam the the little guy who shook your hand and i asked how you was doing.back in the 70s and the parents won a goal stick with lots of names of the boston bruins your name is on it ans sois waye cash and ray bourque there is more names from the players in the 70s and in the 80s the goaly stick well the goaly stick has to be atleast 25 years old I am not making this up my parents got it at a raffle i think they paid 300 or 600 hundred dollars and that is the truth as god is my i will end this.yours truly.a big hockey fan dwayne.this hi my email address you have any question about the goaly stick you can email me or call my house phone number.its 978 957 5874 or you can call my cell phone.and if you read i thank you.and god bless you truly yours 1 bruins fan.i hope too here fron you so thank you very much.sinserley yours

scott 8:03 AM  

Hey Mr.O'REILLY I am 42 and grew up watching bruins hockey and have to say you were my first hero!!! I wish you could of kept coaching and teaching these young players today what heart is and how the game should be played!!! I met you a couple times at charity events in my town and you were a great man always willing an autograph or talk.Just wanted u too know I apreciated how u played the greatest game there is!!!!Scott lavertu BERLIN NH.

Anonymous,  9:40 AM  

I'm only 14, so I don't remember you playing, or coaching rather. My parents are huge Bruins fans, so they talk about you and when you did play. I got the chance to meet you last night at the Bruins Alumni game in Plymouth, New Hampshire last night. What an AMAZING game! The picture I got with you is my profile picture on Facebook actually. Haha. I've seen videos of you on the Internet and so forth, but I guess the point of this message is to say that you are my hero. Sure they talk about Bobby Orr and how great he was/is.. but I find you the absolute best. You remind me of how I play sports. I'm not the best at the simple basics, but I'm the most aggressive, the team leader, and I always turn the game around. I play for you Terry O'Reilly. You are such an inspiration. God bless.

Michael,  11:57 AM  

It was 1979 I was a kid sick in the hospital, Mass Eye & Ear. I got a visit from Terry O'Reilly he lived down the street from me whan I was growing up. When I got out of the Hospital he took me and my dad to game (he drove us to the game). After the game he invited us into the locker room. We met the team and he showed... us around, he aksed if i wanted a stick to take home, said i could take anyone i wanted, So i took one. That stick with the number 24 sits next to my front door to this day. I look at it every day and remember what a nice nice guy "Taz really is. I was hoping that some how i might be able to be able to say thanks to him once again and tell him i never forgot his kindness.
See MoreI was a little disapointed at the end of the night he said he couldnt give us a ride home (his wife had decided to come to the game). He asked if it would be alright if someone else gave us a ride. we said sure, that ride was by a man with the last name of Bucyk, what a way to end the night. Well anyway the reason for this post is to try to find a way to get intouch with Terry maybe forward an email I just want to say thanks in person again ( I was so excited at the time that i forgot to have hime sign the stick was hoping he wouldnt mind doing that for me too.) Thanks

Anonymous,  10:28 AM  

Terry you where the best!

Anonymous,  2:13 PM  

id say Terry O'Reilly was one of the toughest players in nhl history.

biff mcguzzle,  11:47 PM  

I grew up around the Boston area and was around 13 years old when the Bruins drafted O'Reilly.My family had season tickets for the Bruins so I got to see a lot of the games back then. But, I was such a hockey freak that I would go to the AHL Braves games, too and I saw Terry play . To be honest, he sucked.It was almost painful to watch but, you better keep your head up around him! So, the Braves lost in the playoffs ( I think to the Voyageurs, Montreal's minor league team..AAAARRGGGHHH !!! ) and the next morning I was skating alone at the old Melrose Hockeytown .It was maybe 6 AM . Back then they didn't bother to lock the place. It was such a dump that if you vandalized the place it would be an improvement . There were no lights on, just the filtered dawn sunlight coming through dirty windows .I was the only person out there ,but who comes onto the ice but O'Reilly.We skated together for an hour, doing one on ones and passing to each other. I wonder how many other players were skating that day .This is why Terry was able to go from a very untalented player in the AHL to an NHL All Star, original six team captain, and have his number retired. One year the Bruins lost to the Islanders in the playoffs and O'Reilly showed the single greatest series long display of grit I have ever seen. The Bruins were outclassed, but O'Reilly fought like a lion. What a guy! I have been watching the NHL since around 1967 and O'Reilly, to us old-time hockey guys is in very rare company....One last thing. My Dad was an All-American and he watched the NHL since the 1920's. So, he knew hockey and he saw all of the old greats. He LOVED O'Reilly ( and Orr was the best he had ever seen.Move over Maurice, almost doesn't count Gordie, Wayne who? )

Anonymous,  9:28 PM  

No player ever got more out of his ability than O'Reilly. He was the hardest working player I've ever seen on the ice. He was insatiable. I don't even like the Bruins, but I sure like Terry O'Reilly.

- A fellow Irishman

Flynnsy 1:19 PM  

Terry O'Riley and Bobby Orr-great hockey players and great human beings. Tough to accomplish both, but you did.
I'm a 71 YO grandmother who got my sons and now my grandchildren passionate about the game. 3 yo grandaughter is now playing hockey in Laconia NH.
One of my sons won a chance from Star Market to play hockey with you and Orr in Natick, MA. He will never forget that day. (After the olympic win).

Anonymous,  1:51 AM  

Hello Terry, my name is also Terry O'Reilly and I am from ROCHESTER,NY, a great hockey city. I am 56 years old, and saw you play many times during your great career. I also wore #24 playing baseball and basketball, but never learned to skate. Just wanted to tell you that you were my favorite player. It was the best of times back in the '70s.

Unknown 8:06 PM  

I remember the 1980 playoffs. In the Bruins VS Islanders series, game 2, Islanders Bob Bourne scored the game winning goal in overtime. Terry O'Reilly assisted on that goal. The Islanders won the first two games in Boston Garden, going to their home ice up 2-0.

Unknown 4:32 PM  

Terry as a young kid growing up in pittsburgh, pennsylvania in the 70s,i would watch the bruins every chance i got,i loved watching you fight and play as hard and tough as you could till the wistle were an inspiration to me growing up and i wanna thank you very much!!!! Greg

Anonymous,  12:55 PM  

I remember April 24 1980. Game 2 New York Islanders VS Boston Bruins overtime with th he score tied 4-4. New York led the series 1-0 after a 2-1 overtime victory. Terry O'Reilly had the puck in his own zone passed it right to NY Islamder Bob Bourne who blasted a shot right by Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers. The Islanders won the game 5-4 taking a 2-0 lead in the series. The Bruins now had to go to the Nassau Coliseum down 2-0, mainly because.of Terry O'Reilly's bad pass

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