A scrappy centre who could be effective at both ends of the ice, Mel Bridgman played just under 1,000 games in a solid NHL career. A model of consistency, he reached the 20-goal mark six times and was often at his best in big games or the post-season.
Bridgman averaged nearly two points a game for the Nanaimo Islanders of the BCJHL in 1972-73. This was followed by two exemplary seasons with the WCJHL's Victoria Cougars. In 1974-75, the hard-nosed pivot led the league with 157 points and represented Canada at the World Junior Championships. Shortly after the season ended the was the first player taken at the 1975 Amateur Draft when the Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers called his name.
Bridgman scored 23 goals as a rookie centring Terry Crisp and Bob "Mad Dog" Kelly. He also contributed 14 points as the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup finals where their attempt to "threepeat" fell short against the Montreal Canadiens. Bridgman spent over six years in Philly including the 1979-80 season when they reached the final and set an NHL record by going undefeated in 35 consecutive games. He also succeeded Bobby Clarke as the team's captain that same year.
In November 1981, Bridgman was traded to the Calgary Flames for defenceman Brad Marsh. He scored 75 points in 63 games for his new club but they were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Vancouver Canucks. The next year Bridgman provided gritty leadership and nine power play goals but the Flames faltered in the first round once again.
Prior to the 1983-84 season, Bridgman joined the New Jersey Devils where he registered three straight 20-goal seasons and added a winning attitude to the young club. He became the club's captain and filled that role until 1987. Late in the 1986-87, he was acquired by the Detroit Red Wings as they prepared for the playoffs. Bridgman was a good fit for Jacques Demers' hard-working club which reached the semi-finals. The next year he played on a checking line with a number of wingers as the Wings reached the last four for the second straight year. Bridgman signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks then retired after playing 15 games in 1988-89. He served as the first GM of the expansion Ottawa Senators in 1992-93.