John Paul Bucyk had a marathon career of 23 years, almost all of which was spent with the Boston Bruins. He was nicknamed "the Chief" after a Boston sports cartoonist mistook him for a native Canadian because of his dark features. Bucyk loved the nickname and it stuck.
He grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and played Junior A hockey on the Edmonton Oil Kings with his older brother Bill, who later played in the Western Hockey League but never made it to the NHL. For the next three seasons, Bucyk shifted back and forth between the Detroit Red Wings and the Oil Kings. Finally, in 1954, he was "discovered" in an Oil Kings game by Boston general manager Lynn Patrick, but it would still be three more years before he actually put on a Bruins jersey. In 1957 Boston obtained Bucyk from Detroit in a trade for Terry Sawchuk.
A member of the so-called Uke Line in Boston with fellow Ukrainian-Canadians Bronco Horvath and Vic Stasiuk, Bucyk set an astounding number of Bruins records (some of which have now been surpassed by Ray Bourque) - for the most seasons (21), the most games (1,436), the most goals (545), the most assists (794) and the most points (1,339).
Bucyk's seasonal scoring totals got better as he got older. Unfortunately, his career almost ended when he was in his mid-30s because of a back injury. From then on he had to wear a harness, but he continued to play left wing well into his forties. It wasn't the only extra bit of equipment he wore, either. Bucyk also sported a special medallion for good luck that four of his teammates gave him after his 500th goal.
In 1976, as he neared the end of his playing career, Bucyk was aware that his age was showing. But it didn't seem to be affecting his game as he continued his streak of 10 straight seasons of more than 20 goals. Bucyk ended his career with the Bruins as the fourth-leading scorer in NHL history at the time.
Bucyk did some assistant coaching in his last years under Bruins coach Don Cherry and after that continued to work with the team in its public relations department in addition to doing colour commentary on games on the radio and later ran the team's Alumni.
In 1978, during a game against Detroit, the Bruins retired the number 9 sweater that Bucyk wore throughout his career with the team.
In 1981, Bucyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.