Terry O'Reilly

Terence Joseph James O'Reilly (born June 7, 1951) is a retired ice hockey right winger, who played for the NHL's Boston Bruins, and one of the most effective enforcers in NHL history. O'Reilly was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Terry O'Reilly
O'Reilly in 1978
Born (1951-06-07) June 7, 1951
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Right wing
Shot Right
Played for NHL
Boston Bruins
Boston Braves
NHL Draft 14th overall, 1971
Boston Bruins
Playing career 19711985

Playing career

O'Reilly was picked by the Boston Bruins in the first round as the 14th pick overall in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. O'Reilly spent his entire career in Boston, serving as the captain of the Bruins during the 1983–84 and 1984–85 seasons before his retirement. The Bruins retired his No. 24 on October 24, 2002.[1]

O'Reilly was known for being a tough player, racking up over 200 penalty minutes in five consecutive seasons, and earning for himself the nickname "Bloody O'Reilly" in the press. His teammate, Phil Esposito, dubbed O'Reilly "Taz" in reference to the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character for O'Reilly's reckless, hard driving style of play. He was very protective of his teammates. When the Bruins retired O'Reilly's No. 24, Ray Bourque noted that O'Reilly's banner "hangs next to mine, protecting me again."[2]

On top of his physical presence, he also had a decent scoring touch, highlighted by his 29-goal, 90-point season in 1977–78. He added to that with a 77-point effort the following campaign. He had 211 and 205 minutes in penalties in those seasons respectively, displaying an excellent balance of grit and scoring. He finished his 13-year career with 204 goals, 402 assists for 606 points, a +212 plus/minus and 2,095 minutes in penalties.

In the infamous December 23, 1979, incident at Madison Square Garden, during a post-game scrum, a New York Rangers fan rolled up a program tightly and smacked Stan Jonathan in the face drawing blood, then stole his stick and wielded it like a weapon. O'Reilly scaled the glass and charged into the stands. His teammates followed when other fans tried to intervene. O'Reilly was suspended eight games for his part in the brawl.[3]

He became the replacement head coach of the Bruins during the 1986–87 NHL season and kept his job until 1989, when he left to care for, and spend more time with, his son who was seriously ill with liver disease. In that time, he took the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals in 1988, where they were defeated by the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers. O'Reilly also was an assistant coach for the Rangers for the two seasons prior to the lockout.


In the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore, O'Reilly is mentioned as Happy Gilmore's favorite hockey player when growing up due to his tough style of play.

O'Reilly has stated his favorite player who played for the Bruins is Milan Lucic, also born on June 7.

He was inducted into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1968–69Oshawa GeneralsOHA-Jr.465152087
1969–70Oshawa GeneralsOHA-Jr.5413364960615622
1970–71Oshawa GeneralsOHA-Jr.54234265151
1971–72Boston BravesAHL609817134922431
1971–72Boston BruinsNHL11010
1972–73Boston BruinsNHL725222710950002
1973–74Boston BruinsNHL76112435941625738
1974–75Boston BruinsNHL68152035146300017
1975–76Boston BruinsNHL802327501501231425
1976–77Boston BruinsNHL7914415514714561128
1977–78Boston BruinsNHL77296190211155101540
1978–79Boston BruinsNHL802651772051106625
1979–80Boston BruinsNHL711942612651036969
1980–81Boston BruinsNHL7783543233312312
1981–82Boston BruinsNHL702230522131154956
1982–83Boston BruinsNHL196142040
1983–84Boston BruinsNHL58121830124300014
1984–85Boston BruinsNHL6313173016851239
NHL totals 891 204 402 606 2095 108 25 42 67 335

Coaching statistics

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsDivision RankResult
Boston Bruins1986–87 6734276(74)3rd in AdamsLost in first round
1987–88 8044306942nd in AdamsLost in finals
1988–89 80372914882nd in AdamsLost in second round
Preceded by
Butch Goring
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
Succeeded by
Mike Milbury

See also

  • List of NHL players with 2000 career penalty minutes


  1. Bruce Allen (October 24, 2002). "Terry O'Reilly gets his number". Boston Sports Media Watch. Archived from the original on December 14, 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-18.
  2. http://static.espn.go.com/nhl/news/2002/1024/1450686.html
  3. "1971 NHL Amateur Draft Terry O'Reilly". Retrieved 2006-07-18.
Preceded by
Ron Jones
Boston Bruins first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Mike Bloom
Preceded by
Wayne Cashman
Boston Bruins captain
Succeeded by
Ray Bourque
Rick Middleton
Preceded by
Butch Goring
Head coach of the Boston Bruins
Succeeded by
Mike Milbury
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