1971 NHL Entry Draft Pick
Round Overall
1 14
Terry O'Reilly
Selected by Boston from Oshawa (OHA)
Boston Bruins Oshawa Generals
Terry O'Reilly

6-foot-1, 190 pounds

Right-hand shot

Right Wing

Pre-Draft Statistics

Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1968-69 Oshawa OHA 46 5 15 20 87
1969-70 Oshawa OHA 54 13 36 49 60
1970-71 Oshawa OHA 54 23 42 65 151

Pre-Draft Notes

Oshawa captain in 1970-71. ... Offered scholarship by St. Louis University in 1969.
Canadian • Born June 7, 1951 in Niagara Falls, Ontario • Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario

A Truly Big Bad Bruin

On the day Boston Bruins general manager Milt Schmidt signed 20-year-old Terry O'Reilly to his first pro contract, Schmidt referred to him proudly as "a typical Boston Bruins player:" It was a compliment, indeed, since the Bruins of that era were on the verge of winning their second Stanley Cup championship in a three-year span. Although O'Reilly would not win a Cup ring in Boston, he would certainly go on to embody the traits that had made the Bruins champions. He was tough and stood up for his teammates, but he could also score goals and contribute offensively. Most of all, he was a remarkably determined player who would work harder than anyone else on the ice to win. Garry Young, the Bruins' chief scout who influenced the pick, said O'Reilly "has more desire than any player in junior hockey last year." In a scouting report, Young prophetically wrote that "O'Reilly is a born winner. If he has a fault, it is that he has to learn to pace himself. He only knows one way to play -- all out."

Video from NHL.com

ABOVE: Bruins salute O'Reilly in pregame puck-drop ceremony.

Classic HighlightsTribute VideoJersey Retirement
Fighting Dave SchultzFighting Behn Wilson2012 Interview
Fight with BridgmanThe Ultimate Bruin2009 Interview

Career Vitals

First contract: August 25, 1971
Debut: April 2, 1972
(Boston vs. Toronto)
Final NHL game: April 16, 1985 (playoffs)
(Boston at Montreal)
Retired: May 20, 1985
Stanley Cup: Never won
Numbers worn: 23, 24 (number retired)

Career NHL Statistics

Team: Boston
Years: 1972-1985. Playoffs: 1973-1985

Regular Season
14 years 891 204 402 606 2,095
Stanley Cup Playoffs
12 years 108  25 42 67 335
Complete statistics available at NHL.com 

NHL Awards and Honors

1974-75:All-Star Game
1977-78:All-Star Game
1987-88: Hockey Digest Coach of Year

Team Awards and Honors

BOSTON CAPTAIN:Aug. 23, 1983, to May 20, 1985
1973-74:Eddie Shore Award (Hustle/Determination)
1974-75:Eddie Shore Award (Hustle/Determination), Seventh Player Award (Most Popular), Penalty Minutes Leader (146), Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (17)
1975-76:Penalty Minutes Leader (150), Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (25)
1977-78Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy (Home Games MVP) (co-winner), Star of Stars Trophy (Three-Stars Leader), Eddie Shore Award (Hustle/Determination) (co-winner), Points Leader (90), Assists Leader (61), Penalty Minutes Leader (211)
1978-79:Assists Leader (51), Penalty Minutes Leader (205), Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (25)
1979-80:Penalty Minutes Leader (265), Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (69)
1980-81:Penalty Minutes Leader (223)
1981-82:Penalty Minutes Leader (213), Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (56)
1983-84:Playoffs Penalty Minutes Leader (14)

League/Team Records

Boston Bruins Records
Most career penalty minutes: 2,095
Most career games
played by a right wing:
Most career playoff OT goals: 3 (shares record)
Most career playoff
penalty minutes:

The Van Hellemond Incident

O'Reilly was suspended for the first 10 games of 1982-83 season for punching referee Andy Van Hellemond in Boston's final 1982 playoff game -- Game 7 of their Adams Division Final series vs. Quebec on April 25. The contact was, in fact, accidental. O'Reilly was in the middle of a fight with Dale Hunter and connected with Van Hellemond when he intervened. Earlier in the game, however, Van Hellemond had called a controversial charging penalty against O'Reilly, who was appearing in his milestone 100th career playoff game, at 7:52 of the third period, enabling Quebec's Dave Pichette to score the winning goal with 13 seconds left on the resulting power play. With only two seconds left in the third period, O'Reilly picked the fight with Hunter to get back at Hunter for what he considered dirty play throughout the series. That set off fighting between other players, requiring Van Hellemond to assist the linsemen restoring order. While he fought Hunter, one of O'Reilly's punches caught Van Hellemond on the shoulder and glanced up into his face as the referee tried to get between the two players. O'Reilly was still wearing a glove on the right hand that hit Van Hellemond, since his scuffle with Hunter was just starting. O'Reilly was given a game misconduct, and the NHL opened an investigation into supplemenary discipline. A formal hearing was held on May 7, but O'Reilly boycotted the hearing because he was angry at the league over officiating in the Boston-Quebec series. One week later on May 14, 1982, the NHL announced that O'Reilly was suspended indefinitely for failing to attend the hearing. His suspension would last until he attended a second hearing to review the Van Hellemond incident. O'Reilly relented and finally appeared at a second hearing on June 1, thereby ending his suspension. However, as a result of the hearing, he received the longest suspension of his NHL career -- 10 games without pay to start the 1982-83 season (or more than $20,000 in salary) -- in a decision announced by the league on June 4. O'Reilly was also fined the maximum allowable $500 and told he could not play for the team until Boston's Oct. 27, 1982, game at Toronto. O'Reilly did not protest the suspension but said he would have done so had it been anything over 10 games. The NHL officials' union criticized the NHL's decision, saying the suspension should have been longer since going easy on O'Reilly threatened the safety of all on-ice officials.

Life Outside the NHL

Full Name: Terence Joseph James O'Reilly
Nickname: "Taz", "The Tasmanian Devil"

Other Post-Draft Teams: Boston (AHL)

Education: Attended University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, and Boston University.

Career Beyond Hockey: Ran a construction business in the Boston area during the 1990s after ending his coaching career. He was also extremely active in helping raise funds for the American Liver Foundation. After his second coaching stint with the Rangers, he returned to Boston and went into the real-estate business.

Family: Father of Massachusetts politician Evan O'Reilly.


100th Playoff Game: April 25, 1982
(Boston vs. Quebec)

Career Highlights

Played on 1971-72 Boston Braves team that won AHL regular-season title. ... Scored a goal in his first NHL game, which was also Boston's 1971-72 regular-season finale. His goal at 2:10 of the third period beat Hall of Fame netminder Bernie Parent to give Boston a 4-3 lead over Toronto in a game the Bruins went on to win 6-4. O'Reilly's goal put Boston ahead for good in the game. ... Appeared in one regular-season game for Boston team that went on to win Stanley Cup in 1972, but was not with team during playoffs. ... Played on Boston team that lost to Philadelphia in 1974 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Played in 1975 NHL All-Star Game at Montreal as an injury replacement for John Bucyk. He had a goal and an assist in the game, helping the Wales Conference to a 7-1 victory. ... Scored his first playoff overtime goal at 10:07 of the second OT to give Boston a 5-4 win at Philadelphia in Game 2 of Stanley Cup semifinal series on April 26, 1977. .... Played on Boston team that lost to Montreal in 1977 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Finished seventh in NHL with 90 points in 1977-78. ... Scored his first NHL hat trick for Boston on Nov. 10, 1977, vs. Los Angeles goaltender Rogie Vachon. ... Set Boston single-season penalty minutes record (since broken) with 211 in 1977-78. ... Became only third player in Boston Bruins history to lead the team in both points and penalty minutes in the same season in 1977-78, joining Jimmy Herbert (1924-25) and Bobby Orr (1969-70). ... Finished third in the voting behind Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy for right wing position on 1977-78 NHL postseason All-Star Teams. ... Scored his second playoff overtime goal at 1:50 of OT to give Boston a 4-3 win over Chicago in Game 2 of Stanley Cup quarterfinal series on April 19, 1978. ... Played on Boston team that lost to Montreal in 1978 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Had a goal and four assists in Boston's 5-3 win at Colorado on Feb. 20, 1979. ... Served as Boston captain for the 36 games of the of 1979-80 season while Wayne Cashman dealt with injury problems that began on Dec. 2, 1979. ... Set Boston single-season penalty minutes record (since broken) with a carer-high 265 in 1979-80. ... Scored his third playoff overtime goal at 17:13 of OT to give Boston a 4-3 win at N.Y. Islanders in Game 4 of Stanley Cup quarterfinal series on April 21, 1980. ... Led Boston in scoring percentage (25.0 percent) in 1983-84. ... Retired in 1985 ranked third on Boston's career games-played list (891), sixth on career assists list (402), and seventh on career points list (606). ... Was head coach of Boston team that lost to Edmonton in 1988 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Inducted into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. ... Honored by The Sports Museum in Boston with a lifetime achievement award on June 21, 2005.

Retired Sweater Number

On Oct. 24, 2002, in a special ceremony prior to their 2002-03 home-opener vs. Ottawa, the Boston Bruins retired O'Reilly's No. 24. More than 17 years had passed since O'Reilly had retired, but no other Bruins player had worn the number since O'Reilly's last game. Fans had been clamoring for an O'Reilly sweater retirement for years, and were thrilled when the date for "Terry O'Reilly Night" was finally announced in July 2002. It was a particularly emotional event when No. 24 was raised to the rafters of the FleetCenter, becoming the ninth number retired by the team. As he watched the No. 24 banner being raised, 'Reilly stood side-by-side with his two sons, Conor and Evan. They had been too young to remember their father's playing days, but  were eternally grateful to him for quitting hockey so that he could be more involved in their lives.

O'Reilly Goes Into Stands

O'Reilly was at the center of one of the most infamous moments in NHL history on Dec. 23, 1979, at New York's Madison Square Garden. On that night, as the Bruins celebrated just before heading back to their dressing room at the very end of their 4-3 win over the Rangers, Boston's Al Secord stuck out his stick just enough to trip up Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson. Rangers players, who had been upset with the officiating during the game, quickly rushed to Nilsson's defense. A number of angry Rangers, including goalie John Davidson, tried to block the Bruins players from getting off the ice as they all yelled at Secord for what he had done. There was no actual fight, and Davidson did most of the yelling, since he had seen the actual incident and was angriest at Secord. While all this was taking place, the raucous MSG crowd started chanting "Boston Sucks!" as if to encourage a fight. That seemed to encourage the Rangers' Frank Beaton to take one more shot at Secord, and officials quickly jumped in to break up the scuffle. This drew the whole group of players toward the boards in the Rangers zone, where Beaton was looking to engage Secord. One of the players caught up in the fray along the boards was Boston's Stan Jonathan, a known fighter who was standing nearby as a kind of policeman on Secord's behalf. As Jonathan stood there watching Beaton and Secord, a Rangers fan suddenly reached over the glass and punched him. It was a solid punch, and Jonathan immediately lifted his stick in an effort to ward off any more shots from the fan. As soon as Jonathan's stick came up, the fan grabbed it and pulled it up into the stands. He then turned it on Jonathan. Jonathan's Boston teammates immediatey shifted their focus from Beaton to the stands, as they instinctively moved to support him. O'Reilly, who had scored the first of three Boston third-period goals to spark the dramatic comeback from a 3-1 deficit, took it upon himself to climb up over the glass to both retrieve the stick and punish the fan who had taken it. As soon as he reached the man holding Jonathan's stick, O'Reilly, serving as Boston's team captain because Wayne Cashman was out with an injury, started punching him. The sight of O'Reilly fighting in the stands prompted several other Bruins to follow his lead and provide him some reinforcements. "We had to go up there," Bruins forward Peter McNab told reporters after the game. "It's not something to be proud of, but we couldn't leave Terry up there alone. The guy had a stick and he was swinging it." For the next 10 minutes, the Bruins fought with other Rangers fans, primarily to keep them away from attacking O'Reilly. Mike Milbury most famously grabbed the shoe off the fan that O'Reilly had fought and McNab had pushed to the ground -- and Milbury beat the fan with his own shoe before throwing the shoe out onto the ice. MSG security finally broke up the fight, which was blamed on the four fans who had instigated it -- Manny Kaptain, his sons James, 26, and John Kaptain, 30, and their friend Jack Guttenplan, 31. All four, New Jersey residents who had attended the game together, were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for their role in the ugly incident. John Kaptain, who was beaten with his shoe, later claimed that one of the Boston players (not necessarily Jonathan) started the brawl by reaching his stick over the glass to hit his brother James in the face. John said that he only punched Jonathan and grabbed his stick in reaction to that. On Jan. 23, 1980, even before they were due to appear in court, the foursome filed a $7 million lawsuit against multiple parties, including individual Bruins players, the Rangers, Madison Square Garden, Garden owner Gulf & Western, and the New York Police Department. Meanwhile, it was left up to the NHL and NHL president John Ziegler to sort out the disciplinary punishment for the Boston players. Everyone was looking for a quick resolution, but Ziegler and the league took their time to conduct what they considered a thorough investigation. On Jan. 25, 1980, nearly five weeks after the ugliness at MSG, the NHL announced the punishment: O'Reilly was suspended for eight games and fined the maximum allowable $500, and McNab and Milbury were both suspended for six games and fined $500. Craig MacTavish, John Wensink, backup goalie Gilles Gilbert, and Secord were each fined $500 for going into the stands and taking part in the violence. All other Boston players who went into the stands but did not engage in the violence were fined $200 each. The fines against the Bruins totaled $31,000. Among Boston players who had dressed for the game, only goaltender Gerry Cheevers, who had immediately left the ice at the final buzzer, was not fined. O'Reilly missed all of Boston's games between Jan. 21 and Feb. 3 -- all games leading up to the NHL All-Star break. He returned after the break on Feb. 7, 1980, to play in Boston's home game vs. Toronto. James Kaptain, who said he and the other Rangers fans were not contacted during the investigation, complained that Ziegler's punishment was not harsh enough and that only the lawsuit had prompted him to take any disciplinary action at all. The Boston organization spoke out against the suspensions and tried to appeal them on the grounds that the players had every right to stick up for a teammate in potential distress. The NHL didn't budge on the suspensions, but the Kaptains and Guttenplan did budge on their lawsuit, which was eventually dropped, as were all charges against the four men, since no serious injuries resulted from the mayhem.


Significant Injuries

Missed part of 1971-72 season with sprained ankle, suffered during Boston's Jan. 30, 1972, AHL game at Nova Scotia. He did not return until Boston's March 17, 1972, AHL game at Nova Scotia. ... Dressed for Boston's Feb. 9, 1975, game vs. N.Y. Islanders but did not play due to torn muscles around ribs and sore hand. ...  Missed part of 1974-75 season with sprained right ankle, suffered during Boston's March 7, 1975, game at Atlanta. He did not return until Boston's March 15, 1975, game at N.Y. Islanders. He re-aggravated the injury in that game and did not return again until Boston's April 6, 1975, game vs. Toronto. ... Had off-season surgery to repair torn rotator cuff in right shoulder on June 19, 1981. He had played through the pain of the injury during the 1980-81 season, missing only three games. ... Missed part of 1981-82 season with stretched nerves in left shoulder, suffered during Boston's March 6, 1982, game vs. Los Angeles. He did not return until Boston's March 27, 1982, game vs. Minnesota. ... Missed part of 1982-83 season with broken left index finger, suffered when he was slashed by Roland Melanson during Boston's Nov. 18, 1982, game vs. N.Y. Islanders. He did not return until Boston's Dec. 9, 1982, game vs. Montreal. ... Missed remainder of 1982-83 season and entire 1983 playoffs with torn ligaments and torn cartilage in left knee, suffered when his skate got caught in a rut on the ice during Boston's Dec. 31, 1982, game at Minnesota. The injury required season-ending surgery on Jan. 3, 1983. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with torn rib cartilage, suffered during Boston's Oct. 20, game at Philadelphia. He did not return until Boston's Oct. 27, 1983, game at Minnesota. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with sprained right knee, suffered during Boston's Nov. 13, 1983, game vs. Washington. He did not return until Boston's Nov. 22, 1983, game at Montreal. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with bruise on back of right knee, suffered during Boston's Nov. 24, 1983, game vs. Quebec. He did not return until Boston's Dec. 1, 1983, game vs. Vancouver. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with dislocated right shoulder, suffered during Boston's Dec. 30, 1983, game at Edmonton. He did not return until  Missed part of 1983-84 season with dislocated right shoulder, suffered during Boston's Jan. 21, 1984, game at Hartford. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with re-aggravation of dislocated right shoulder, suffered during Boston's Feb. 2, 1984, game vs. Buffalo. He did not return until Boston's Feb. 15, 1984, game at Buffalo. ... Missed part of 1983-84 season with re-aggravation of dislocated right shoulder, suffered during Boston's Feb. 22, 1984, game at Los Angeles. He did not return until Boston's Feb. 27, 1984, game at Buffalo, and wore a special harness to keep the shoulder in place for the rest of the season.  ... Had off-season surgery on right shoulder in summer of 1984. ... Missed part of 1984-85 season with sprained left ankle, suffered during Boston's Oct. 21, 1984, game at Winnipeg. He did not return until Boston's Nov. 4, 1984, game at N.Y. Islanders. ... Missed part of 1984-85 season with broken right ring finger, suffered during Boston's Jan. 5, 1985, game vs. N.Y. Rangers. He did not return until Boston's Jan. 21, 1985, game vs. Montreal. ... Missed part of 1984-85 season with concussion, suffered when he was checked into the glass by Normand Rochefort during Boston's March 5, 1985, game at Quebec. He did not return until Boston's March 16, 1985, game vs. Calgary.

Non-Playing Career

Named Boston interim co-coach (with Mike Milbury) on Nov. 2, 1986, worked behind the bench for the first time on Nov. 8, 1986, and remained in interim co-coach position until Nov. 14, 1986. ... Named Boston head coach on Nov. 14, 1986 and remained in position until he resigned on May 1, 1989, with one year left on his contract to spend more time with family, including his younger son, Evan, who was suffering from a liver ailment. He also said that he was
uncomfortable with the role of having to make personnel decisions that affected the players and their families. ... Named N.Y. Rangers assistant coach on June 12, 2002, and remained in that position until July 6, 2004.
Named Boston TV color commentator in April 1986 season and remained in that position until he was hired as interim co-coach on Nov. 2, 1986.


Selected by Ottawa Nationals in 1972 WHA Draft -- the first-ever WHA Draft -- in February 1972. Selected by Cleveland Crusaders in 1973 WHA draft of established professional players. Son of a milkman who moved family from Niagara Falls to Oshawa when Terry was 7. Known throughout his career for an erratic skating style and buzzing all over the ice.
Nicknamed "The Tasmanian Devil", in reference to cartoon character, by Phil Esposito. Played on line with Gregg Sheppard and Don Marcotte as rookie with Boston in 1972-73. Played on line with Don Marcotte and Andre Savard for Boston in 1973-74. Played on line with Jean Ratelle and Rick Middleton for Boston in 1977-78.
Never played on a team that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Worked at hockey school in Oshawa, Ontario, during off-seasons of his playing days. Was an avid chess player and brought portable chess set on road trips early in NHL career. Helped organize American Liver Foundation's charity program in annual Boston Marathon.
Mentioned in the opening of movie "Happy Gilmore" as the title character's favorite player. Was a finalist for Buffalo Sabres head coach position that went to Lindy Ruff in July 1997. Became active member of Bruins Alumni Association team, playing in charity games. Played in 2010 Boston Bruins Legends Classic outdoor game at Fenway Park on Jan. 2, 2010.
Total Selected: 117
Forwards: 63
Defense: 45
Goaltenders: 9
Major Junior: 84
College Players: 19
Canadian: 107
Euro-Canadian: 2
American: 8
European: 0
Reached NHL: 50
Won Stanley Cup: 5
Hall of Fame: 3
All-Star Game: 10
Year-end All-Star: 5
Olympians: 4
Picks Traded: 18


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