Is Ray Bourque the Greatest D of All Time?

Ray bourque is the career leader in goals, assists and points for a D, he has 5 Norris Trophies and he has more end-of-season All Star team appearances than anyone other than Gordie Howe.

So where does he rank all time among the greatest defencemen ever? Is he #2? Is he not even in the Top 5 as one of us used to believe?

Listen to us talk about Bourque here:

Class of 2004: Larry Murphy, Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque

Ray Bourque’s Career:

  • NHL: 1979-2001; 22 seasons, all quality
  • Totals:
    • 410G (1st D All Time)
    • 1169A (4th All Time, 1st D) for
    • 1579P (11th All Time, 1st D),
    • +527 (3rd All Time) in
    • 1612 Games (12th All Time, 4th D);
    • 242.7 PS (2nd All Time – behind only Gretzky)
    • 27:37 ATOI (last 3 seasons only);
    • Bourque is 1st All Time in Defensive Point Shares
    • Bourque is 1st All Time among D in Offensive Point Shares
  • Per Game: Among D, Bourque is
    • 5th All Time in GPG
    • 3rd All Time in APG
    • 4th All Time in PPG
  • Draft: Drafted 8th overall in 1979, Bourque is
    • 7th in Goals (1st D)
    • 2nd in Assists
    • 2nd in Points
    • 1st in Plus/Minus (by +79)
    • 1st in Point Shares (by 82.3 – there are players in the Hall of Fame with fewer point shares)
  • Era: [Because Bourque is the career leader in so many categories for D, we decided to open this up to all skaters] Of the 9 players to play in at least 1,394 games (17 seasons) between 1979 and 2001, Bourque is
    • 5th in Goals (1st D)
    • 6th in GPG (2nd D)
    • 2nd in Assists (1st D)
    • 4th in APG (2nd D)
    • 4th in Points (1st D)
    • 5th in PPG (2nd D)
    • 1st in Plus/Minus
    • 3rd in OPS (1st D)
    • 1st in DPS (by 17.7, an elite season by a skater)
    • 2nd in PS (1st D)
  • 82-game average: 21G, 60A for 80P, +27
    • 3-year peak (1982-85): 80-game average of 27G, 67A for 94P, +48 [Bourque’s 7 best seasons are spread out over 13 years – basically he had 3 separate 3-year peaks, all of which are extremely close in terms of PS per season: the aforementioned one plus 1989 through 1994]
  • No possession stats
  • Playoffs:
    • 41G (4th D All Time),
    • 139A (3rd All Time, 1st D) for
    • 180P (14th All Time, 3rd D),
    • +27 in
    • 214 Games (13th All Time, 6th D)
    • Per Game: Among D, Bourque is
      • 11th All Time in Playoff GPG
      • 6th All Time in Playoff APG
      • 7th All Time in Playoff PPG
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey Reference:
      • Totals:
        • 368G (1st D All Time)
        • 1058A (8th All Time, 1st D) for
        • 1426P (17th All Time, 1st D)
      • 82-game Average: 19G, 54A for 73P (-7P per 82 GP)
      • Per Game: Among D, Bourque is
        • 7th All Time in Adjusted GPG
        • 4th All Time in Adjusted APG
        • 4th All Time in Adjusted PPG
    • VsX: 
      • Totals:
        • 377G1,
        • 147A (9th All Time)
        • 1,338P (22nd All Time)
      • Per Game: Bourque is not on any leader-boards but if the qualifier is set to 1,230 games (15 seasons), Bourque is
        • 18th All Time in APG
  • Trades:
    • Traded at 39 with Dave Andreychuk (36) for Brian Rolston (27), Martin Grenier (19), Sami Palhsson (22) and a 2000 First Round Pick (Martin Samuelsson)

Ray Bourque’s Accomplishments:

  • Top 5 in Hart voting four times
  • Norris (‘87, ‘88, ‘90, ‘91, ‘94) – 4th most ever
  • Top 5 in Norris voting a further 14 times (the most ever, and he was Top 3 further 10 times, also the most ever)
  • Calder (‘80)
  • Clancy (‘92)
  • Back Check MVP (‘90)
  • Top Player:
    • Best Player (by PS) once (‘90)
    • Top 5 Player ten times (‘80, ‘83, ‘85, ‘87, ‘88, ‘91, ‘94, ‘96) – 1 of only 4 players (Gretzky, Broda, Glen Hall)
    • Top 10 Player twelve times (‘92, ‘95) – 1 of only 4 players (Howe, Gretzky, Hall)
    • Best Defensive Player (by DPS) twice (‘84, ‘90)
    • Top 5 ten times (‘80, ‘83, ‘87, ‘88, ‘91, ‘93, ‘99, ‘01) – most ever
    • Top 10 thirteen times (‘85, ‘86, ‘94) – 1 of only 4 D (Lidstrom, Harvey, Horton)
    • Top 10 Offensive Player (by OPS) once (‘87)
  • Goals:
    • 30 goals once (1 of only 8 D ever)
    • 25 goals twice (1 of only 8 D ever)
    • 20 goals nine times (1 of only 2 D ever – Potvin)
    • 15 goals eighteen times (only D ever by 5 more seasons than 2nd place)
  • Assists: 
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in Assists three times
      • Top 10 seven times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in APG twice
      • Top 10 five times
    • Single-season totals:
      • 70 assists three times (1 of only 4 D ever – Coffey, Orr, Leetch))
      • 60 assists ten times (1 of only 4 players ever – Gretzky, Coffey, Oates)
      • 50 assists thirteen times (1 of only 7 players ever, 2 D – Coffey)
      • 40 assists seventeen times (1 of only 4 players ever – Francis, Gretzky, Howe)
  • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 10 in Points once
    • Single-season totals:
      • 90 points four times (1 of only 3 D ever – Coffey, Orr)
      • 80 points ten times (only D ever)
      • 70 points twelve times (1 of only 21 players ever, only D ever)
      • 60 points fifteen times (1 of only 13 players ever, only D ever)
      • 50 points twenty times (1 of only 5 players ever – Francis, Howe, Jagr, Messier)
  • Plus/Minus:
    • Top 5 three times
    • Top 10 nine times (tied most ever with Gretzky)
  • All Star:
    • 1st Team All Star thirteen times (most for a D)
    • 2nd Team All Star six times (most total end of season selections for a D)
    • 19 All Star Game appearances
  • VsX Peak:
    • Best 7 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 44th All Time
      • Points: 131st All Time
    • Best 10 Seasons:
      • Goals: doesn’t qualify
      • Assists: 32nd All Time
      • Points: 112th All time

Ray Bourque’s Great Teams:

  • NHL:
    • Best D on one Final Four (‘00 Avalanche)
    • Best Player (by points) on one Final Four (‘91 Bruins)
    • Best D (by points) on one Runner Up (‘88 Bruins) and two Final Fours (‘83, ‘92 Bruins)
    • Best D (by points but missed 4 games) on one Runner Up (‘90 Bruins)
    • Top 2 D on one Champion (‘01 Avalanche)
  • Canada/World Cup:
    • Best D (by points) on one Champion (‘87 Canada)
    • Best D? (by points) on one Runner Up (‘81 Canada
    • Top 4? D (by points) on one Champion (‘84 Canada)
    • [Invited to 1991 tournament which Canada won, but declined to play]

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