Ray Bourque

Costacos Brothers

NHL Power Rankings: Our favorite classic Costacos Brothers hockey posters

If you’re of a certain age, you probably remember Costacos Brothers posters. Heck, you may have had some up on the walls of your childhood bedroom. The images married sports and pop culture, often dressing up athletes in various costumes to go along with the theme.

Do you remember Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, also known as the Oakland A’s “Bash Brothers,” dressed as the “Blues Brothers,” giant bats and all? Or Lawrence Taylor, with bodies piled around him, dubbed “The Terminator” with lasers shooting out of his fingers? Perhaps you had the one with Karl Malone dressed appropriately to deliver mail?

The posters took off in the mid-1980s and were a big deal for any athlete who was fortunate enough to be a part of one. As Charles Barkley told Amy K. Nelson of SB Nation in 2013, “The poster made you cool. You didn’t make the poster cool.”

We took a dip into the hockey side of the Costacos Brothers poster world and picked out our favorites for this week’s Power Rankings.

1. Ray Bourque

A five-time Norris Trophy winner and stalwart on the Bruins blue line for 20 years, Bourque was clearly suited for the government role of Secretary of Defense. Though, we’re confident that the hockey stick would be a poor weapon in defense compared to that machine gun on the jeep.

2. Luc Robitaille

A play off the Paul Newman movie, here’s Robitaille cozying up next to a Kings-themed motorcycle standing in front of what appears to be an apocalyptic sky behind him. 

3. Jaromir Jagr

“OK, Jaromir, here’s our idea: You’re going to awkwardly stand, full uniform, and look at the camera, letting those bangs out, and you’ll act as a pawn. Czechmate. Get it?”

4. Brett Hull

Hull would definitely fill the “Ice Man” role in a “Top Gun” movie. And you just know he told Adam Oates, “you can be my wingman anytime.”

5. Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky

This “LA Story” didn’t end up being as successful as hoped. In the time that “The Great One” and Magic were in Los Angeles together, only the Lakers made the finals, losing both of them. Johnson returned after a four-year retirement in 1995-96, which would turn out to be the final seasons for both in LA.

6. Wayne Gretzky

Wouldn’t you have preferred Gretzky dressed as Wayne Campbell standing in front of a Marcel Dionne’s Donuts instead?

7. Chris Chelios and Jeremy Roenick

The two Blackhawks stars are hanging out in the middle of a lightning storm without a care in the world. They’re basically just here solely to show off their jeans and turtlenecks.

8. Ed Belfour

“The Eagle” put up his best seasons in Dallas, capping it off with the 1999 Stanley Cup. Surely this movie would be more watchable than “The Love Guru,” no?

MORE POWER RANKINGS:
Teams with the best long-term outlook
Looking at the top 2020 free agents
Best 2019-20 free agent signings
The most underrated players
Top MVP candidates

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

With Brady leaving Patriots, remember these hockey legends in places you forgot

Hockey legends like Brady leaving Patriots Orr Howe Hull Brodeur
Getty Images
2 Comments

As mind-blowing as it is to type this, it’s true: Tom Brady said goodbye to the Patriots on Tuesday. It’s something that’s difficult to process, even if you’re not a Patriots or even a football fan. Yet, as Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra chronicles for baseball, legends donning strange uniforms late in their careers is no new phenomenon, and certainly not limited to the land of pigskins. So what about hockey and the NHL, then?

Hockey fans have been treated to quite a few one-team legends, including Mario Lemieux saving the Penguins more than once.

Even so, there are plenty of legends who ended spent time in jerseys that just felt wrong. Let’s ponder the hockey answers to Brady leaving the Patriots, Johnny Unitas on the Chargers, Michael Jordan with the Wizards, and Babe Ruth on the Boston Braves.

Orr down hockey Brady comparison
(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque leave Boston with very different results

At least with Brady, Boston-area fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more. Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s career concluded with questions of “What could have been?”

Knee injuries ravaged his later career, and after 10 seasons, Orr left the Bruins for the Blackhawks. Between two seasons, Orr could only appear in 26 games for Chicago.

In something of a sequel, the Bruins traded Ray Bourque during his 21st season with the team, setting the stage for Bourque to eventually win a Stanley cup inspiring enough to essentially demand a parade in Boston.

Brodeur Blues Brady leaving Patriots hockey comparison
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Brodeur finishes with the Blues

If Orr on the Blackhawks isn’t the Brady comparison you think of for hockey, then it’s probably Brodeur appearing in seven games for the Blues after winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas, and setting the all-time wins record over 1,259 games with the Devils.

(That contrast still makes me chuckle, to be honest.)

As awkward as Brodeur’s brief Blues stint was, it lacked the angst of how Orr’s career ended. That might make it closer to a 1:1 hockey comparison for Brady, although the QB could easily prove that his tank isn’t empty.

Much of this list shows examples of players trying to prove that they could still play, with most sputtering out after running on fumes.

(Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Hull of a change, and Howe

Bobby Hull already experienced quite a journey going from the Blackhawks to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets (scoring 303 goals in the WHA alone). Hull’s final hockey and NHL season was especially odd, though, starting with 18 NHL games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for The Whale. Gordie Howe ended up being a Whalers teammate of Hull, which is … yeah, pretty mind-blowing. Bobby Hull also attempted a comeback with the Rangers.

(Howe’s legendary career featured quite the second [and maybe third?] acts after his Red Wings days, including playing with his sons, and somehow managing 15 goals and 41 points with the Hartford Whalers at age 51.)

Bobby’s son Brett Hull experienced a journeyman career of his own. Brett convinced the Coyotes to unretire Bobby’s number 9, but that story ended with a whimper (five games) as Brett realized he couldn’t adjust to the post-lockout style of play in 2005-06.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Random Red Wings

If you’re playing trivia and “This player finished his career/briefly played for this team …” comes up, blurting out Detroit Red Wings isn’t the worst bet.

Lightning round, sometimes involving Lightning

  • Mats Sundin stunned Maple Leafs fans by joining the Canucks. There was some Alfredsson-like logic of linking Sundin with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin, yet the experiment lasted just 41 games.
  • Brian Leetch playing for the Maple Leafs was a little strange, but Leetch in a Bruins sweater will never look right.
  • Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens legend, as a Quebec Nordique? Yes, that happened. Jacques Plante bounced around quite about post-Habs, too, including eight games with the (gasp) Bruins.
  • Like Plante, Grant Fuhr pinballed around the NHL quite a bit after parting ways with the Oilers, but joining the Flames? Wow. Fuhr didn’t just play for the Calgary Flames, either, as he suited up twice for the Saint John Flames.
  • File Ed Belfour and Igor Larionov under “people you might not have known played for the Panthers.”
  • Olaf Kolzig was persistent in Washington as Godzilla could be in Tokyo, playing 711 of his 719 games for the Capitals. The eight other games came with the Lightning. (Vincent Lecavalier playing for the Kings was strange, but softened by his years with the Flyers.)

Feel free to mention other fish-out-of-water memories in the comments. Also, if you had to guess, which hockey legend will Brady mirror the most?

(Hopefully we won’t ever get that “Halloween Olajuwon as a Raptor vs. Patrick Ewing with the Magic” feeling from Brady’s final act.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins’ Chara cements towering legacy with Stanley Cup Final run

3 Comments

Leading up to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final (Monday, 8 p.m. ET, NBC), Pro Hockey Talk will be looking at every aspect of the matchup between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.

While Boston sports fans have been spoiled by a wave of championships across several leagues, you could make a similar argument for Boston Bruins fans when it comes to watching great defensemen.

Most obviously, they had Bobby Orr in all of his statue-worthy glory. People who were lucky enough to be alive to see his too-brief prime still often rank him as the greatest player – not just defenseman – to ever lace up the skates, and it’s not outrageous to have that debate.

Plenty of other names come to mind, with Ray Bourque enjoying a transcendent, high-scoring career in his own right.

It’s time to place Zdeno Chara‘s name in that select group.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

For such a tall player, it makes sense to consider the highest heights of his career, of which there have been many:

  • Chara has served as captain of the Bruins since 2006-07, becoming one of just three European-born captains to win a Stanley Cup when Boston won it all in 2010-11.
  • This marks the Bruins’ third trip to a Stanley Cup Final during Chara’s time, as they also came within two wins (and suffered through 17 wild seconds) of another championship when they fell to Chicago in 2012-13.
  • Chara won the 2008-09 Norris Trophy, and was a finalist on five other occasions. Personally, I believe that Chara should have won at least one other Norris during his splendid career.
  • Overall, Chara’s played in 1,485 regular season games, and an impressive 175 playoff contests.
  • While Chara probably would’ve won another Norris or two if he was a more prolific scorer, he’s a guy who’s been able to contribute offensively, too, collecting 10 seasons of 10+ goals, including 19 in 2008-09.

The numbers can get pretty mind-boggling with Chara, yet the story becomes even bigger (almost larger than life?) when you zoom out.

Sustained greatness

As tough as it’s always been to miss a 6-foot-9 fitness freak, there have been moments in his career where his brilliance was overlooked, or at least misjudged. Infamously, the New York Islanders traded away Chara before they really knew what they had, but the Ottawa Senators also let him walk in free agency, possibly choosing Wade Redden over Chara.

Betting against Chara was clearly a bad idea, but then again, it’s easy to forget just how much of an anomaly he truly is.

Alongside Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton, Chara’s managed astounding longevity, as he remains a key part of the Bruins even at age 42.

Sure, Chara isn’t playing almost half of every Bruins playoff game like he did during his gaudy peak, but he’s still important. It’s almost unthinkable that Chara is basically breaking even at five-on-five (via Natural Stat Trick), especially since he’s still called upon in tough situations, as he saw plenty of John Tavares and Mitch Marner during the Maple Leafs series, for example.

Tall tales

Chara isn’t just an impossibly huge defenseman who can still, somehow, keep up enough with young skaters that he remains a useful player for Boston to this day. He’s also someone who probably set expectations too high for plenty of players who’d come after him.

Would players like Tyler Myers, Rasmus Ristolainen, or even Colton Parayko have gotten the same looks in today’s NHL if Chara didn’t show teams that a huge defensemen could find ways to keep up, whether that meant leveraging an outrageous reach or the natural intimidation factor that comes with such size? In breaking the mold, Chara also set a high bar: just about any skyscraper-type prospect could be compared to Chara, especially since “The Big Z” is considered a late bloomer.

While others show that bigger guys can still play (Parayko, Dustin Byfuglien, and so on), there’s really only one Zdeno Chara.

When you think about it, in a less media-saturated age, Chara would probably inspire Paul Bunyan-like stories.

After all, this isn’t just a large dude, it’s also the player whose 108.8 mph slapshot may not be matched for years. He’s scaled mountains. Chara seems to project the typical “Aw, shucks” hockey attitude, yet it’s clear that his ambition separates himself from the rest, and elevates him to a special place among Bruins legends.

View this post on Instagram

1.Chvíľe bez slov…..sedim a užívam si krásne výhľady na prekrásne lesy, údolia a rieky.Nechávam sa stratiť v počúvaní rozmanitej prírody a jej života. 2.Som vďačný že som mohol stráviť vzácne chvíle v prírode a naučiť sa od Ekológa,Ochranára a Dokumentaristu Erika Baláža viac ako chrániť a predchádzať ničeniu a ťažbe v našich krásnych lesoch ,znečistovaní riek a potokov ,nelegálnemu odstrelu divej zveri a hubeniu hmyzu. #priroda #lesy #udolia #rieky #zver #zivot #voda #chranit#mysmeles #strazcadivociny #krasnakrajinka #erikbalaz #bezzasahovost—————————————————————- 1.Moments of silence ……just sitting and enjoying amazing views on beautiful mountains,valleys and rivers.Letting myself to get lost and listening the sounds of life in surrounding nature. 2.I am thankful to be able to spend some time with Ecologist,Conservationists and Documentarist Erik Baláž and learn more how to protect the devastation and unnecessary logging, pollution of rivers and streams,pouching Wild animals and insects extermination. #nature #wildlife #animals #forest #riverside #valley #water #protectthenature #erikbalaz

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

While Chara can be a punishing presence, and maybe blurs the line from time to time, he doesn’t have the mean streak of another elite, gigantic defenseman like Chris Pronger. “Gentle giant” might be too much, but Chara rarely resembles the bully he easily could be. To an extent, his towering presence does the bullying for him.

***

The Bruins have enjoyed a strong run of goalies as Tim Thomas passed the torch to Tuukka Rask, but who knows how successful those goalies would have been without the combination of Chara and Patrice Bergeron?

Adding young players like Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak breathed new life into this Bruins’ core, but remarkably enough, Chara remains a huge part of that foundation, and not just literally.

This run cements a thought that probably already should have been present: Chara belongs on the short list of Bruins legends. Winning another Stanley Cup would only make it tougher to deny — and it would also tie Chara with a certain No. 4.

STANLEY CUP FINAL PREVIEW
Who has the better special teams?
Who has the better forwards?
Who has the better defensemen?
X-factors
PHT Power Rankings: Conn Smythe favorites
Stanley Cup Final 2019 schedule, TV info

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bourque brothers looking to reunite with Rangers

7 Comments

Chris and Ryan Bourque may be minor league mainstays to this point in their respective careers, but both are hoping they can make a case for NHL roster spots and reunite with the New York Rangers this season.

If you’re wondering about the last name, yes they’re both sons of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque.

Ryan, originally a third-round selection of the Rangers in 2009, signed a new contract with the Rangers last week. The 23-year-old is coming off a season where he scored a career-best 21 goals and 37 points in 74 games for the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.

Chris, the elder of the two, signed a one-year deal with the Rangers on July 2, which will pay him $600,000 at the NHL level should he make the team. At 28, Chris is the more experienced of the two having appeared in 51 NHL games with Washington, Pittsburgh and Boston. Originally a second round selection of the Capitals in 2004, Chris split last season between the KHL and Switzerland. He did however have 10 goals and 38 points with the Providence Bruins during the 2012-13 season, his last in North America. Chris added a goal and three helpers in 18 games with Boston that season.

“It’s going to be an awesome experience,” Ryan Bourque told Blueshirts United Tuesday. “There’s not many fields out there, or even in sports, where someone can experience something like this. We always said growing up that we would want to do this if we could. The fact that it all fit in and worked out this year is incredible. It’s definitely going to be an unbelievable experience and we are definitely excited about it.”

With the loss of key players up front such as Benoit Pouliot, Brian Boyle and Brad Richards, Ryan, who is a center, is hoping there’ll be opportunities come training camp.

“Every camp provides an opportunity, but this is really a big year for me,” he said. “This is an opportunity for me to get serious looks to see if I can make a difference. I am going to try and make the most of the opportunity because there are spots to be won.”

Though it’d be a nice story, it’s doubtful both Chris and Ryan make the defending Eastern Conference champions roster out of training camp. The blue shirts added NHL veterans Matthew Lombardi and Tanner Glass, among others, in free agency.

But if it’s any consolation, they could be reunited with the Rangers’ top farm club, the Wolf Pack for 2014-15.

Related: Boyle: ‘There’s going to be some pressure’ joining Rangers

Chris Bourque on Bruins: “They could have had me for free”

1 Comment

Growing up as Ray Bourque’s son probably created quite a burden for Chris Bourque. Still, he also had the chance to watch the likes of Cam Neely and his father up close and personal growing up near Boston, so it’s not shocking that he told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty that he’s thrilled to play for the Bruins.

“They could have had me for free. I was going to be unrestricted and if they put up any kind of offer they were going to have the big edge with me being able to play in front of all my friends and family. It would have been intriguing to me no matter what,” Bourque said. “There’s a lot of history here between my family and the Bruins, obviously. I grew up idolizing Cam Neely, Adam Oates and my dad…to get to see them up close at the rink every day as a kid [was special]. Now with what the Bruins have meant to the city over the last few years; it seems like it would be so much fun to be a part of.”

Of course, as a player who bounces between the NHL and minors, there’s no guarantee that B’s fans will see much of the next generation Bourque. The 26-year-old forward said that he’s been told that he’ll have a shot to make the pro-level team and Bourque will do whatever he can to stick with the Bruins.

“That’s all I’ve ever asked for. It’s up to me to do the rest and bring some energy to the team. I’m known as more of a playmaker, but I’ll play any kind of role that they need me to,” Bourque said. “Whether it’s on the power play or the penalty kill I’m just hoping they give me the chance to show I can do … I’d play defense or goalie if it gets me into the NHL with a full-time job.”

GM Peter Chiarelli certainly didn’t provide guarantees, but he backed up Bourque’s claims that he’ll have a chance.

“I think he’s got a good chance of making our team,” Chiarelli said. “He does have the ability to shoot to find seams, but he also has a great element to his game where that if he has to play lower down the line he can do that. I told him, among other things, that he’ll need like another quarter step to maintain it at this level. If he gets that – and I think he will — he’s another guy who’s relatively young, and that he’ll be able to play at this level on a regular basis.”

If so, it’ll probably be a treat for the Bourques and Bruins fans – even if Chris isn’t the kind of player you’d throw a parade for.