Ivan Boldirev

Ivan Boldirev

Boldirev in 1974
Born (1949-08-15) August 15, 1949
Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Boston Bruins
California Golden Seals
Chicago Black Hawks
Atlanta Flames
Vancouver Canucks
Detroit Red Wings
NHL Draft 11th overall, 1969
Boston Bruins
Playing career 19691985

Ivan Boldirev (Serbian Cyrillic: Иван Болдирев; born August 15, 1949) is a Serbian Canadian former professional ice hockey player. Boldirev played fifteen seasons and over 1000 games in the NHL from 1970 through 1985. Boldirev was noted during his career as one of the sport's best stickhandlers.

Amateur career

Born in Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Boldirev's family emigrated to Canada when he was two. Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, he was known as a shy child. Boldirev felt that his shyness "probably goes back to when I first came over to Canada and didn't speak any English. My-first grade teacher sent a note home telling my parents that we should speak English at home, but they didn't speak it so they couldn't even read the note!".[1]

Boldirev started playing junior hockey as kid, initially joining his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League before moving to the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey Association in 1967-68.

He was the first choice (11th overall) of the Boston Bruins in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft after two stellar seasons with the Generals.

Professional career

Boldirev turned pro in 1969 and spent his entire first season with Boston's CHL affiliate in Oklahoma City. Boldirev was called up to Boston as a spare body for the 1970 NHL playoffs, but didn't play a game as Boston romped to their first championship since 1941. However, in a quirk of history he managed to get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup before he dressed for first his NHL game, the only forward or defencemen ever to do so.

Boldirev was back in Oklahoma City for the 1970–71, although he received his first NHL action with a two-game callup to the Bruins. During this period, Boston was one of the best, deepest squad in the NHL, and for a young player to crack their roster was a formidable task. Boldirev was in a group of players (Reggie Leach and Rick MacLeish, each of whom would star for Flyers later in the decade, were others) who were good enough to play for many NHL squads but were instead stuck in Boston's system, and would need a trade to get the opportunity they needed.

Boldirev started the 1971–72 as a depth player in Boston, but received his big break partway into the season when he was dealt to the hapless California Golden Seals. On the talent-starved Seals, Boldirev received the chance he needed and blossomed into a solid NHL player, finishing fourth on the team with 16 goals and 41 points. By 1973–74, he finished second on the Seals with 25 goals and 56 points.

In 1974, Boldirev was dealt to the Chicago Black Hawks, where he would go on to the most productive phase of his career. He immediately established himself as one of the team's top players, posting 24 goals and 67 points in 1974–75. He posted 60+ points in each of his five seasons in Chicago, and by the late 1970s had replaced Stan Mikita as the team's top offensive player. He led the Black Hawks in goals, assists, and points in 1976–77 and 1977–78, and was selected to play in the 1978 NHL All-Star Game.

Boldirev was leading the Black Hawks in scoring again in 1978–79 when he was dealt to the Atlanta Flames late in the season in a huge nine–player trade. He contributed 14 points in 13 games after joining the Flames, but his stay in Atlanta would last less than a year before he was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks. Darcy Rota was moved along with Boldirev in both trades, and the two would be teammates (and frequently linemates) for nearly a decade with three different organizations.

After joining the Canucks, Boldirev went on a goal scoring binge to close out the 1979–80 season with 16 goals in 27 games. In Vancouver, he continued to be a consistent productive performer, and continued to dazzle fans with his elegant, effort displays of stickhandling. He was a standout performer in Vancouver's run to the 1982 Stanley Cup Finals, scoring eight goals in 17 games after a 73-point regular season.

Boldirev's production dropped off in the 1982–83 season, as he registered just five goals and 25 points in his first 39 games. Thinking Boldirev (now in his mid-thirties) was in decline, the Canucks sent him to the Detroit Red Wings for journeyman forward Mark Kirton. Boldirev proceeded to undergo a resurgence in Detroit, scoring 13 goals and 30 points in just 33 games with the Wings. In 1983–84, he had the most productive season of his career, matching his career high of 35 goals and setting a career high of 83 points. Boldirev combined with rookie Steve Yzerman to form an excellent one-two punch down the middle, and helped Detroit back to the playoffs for the first time since 1978.

In 1984–85, Boldirev played in his 1000th NHL game and notched his 500th assist, but his production waned as he failed to notch 50 points for the first time since 1973. He retired at the end of the season with career totals of 361 goals and 505 assists for 866 points in 1052 NHL games. He currently does periodic work on behalf of the Blackhawk Alumni Association.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1967–68Oshawa GeneralsOHA-Jr.5018264476
1968–69Oshawa GeneralsOHA-Jr.54253459101
1969–70Oklahoma City BlazersCHL65184967114
1970–71Boston BruinsNHL20000
1970–71Oklahoma City BlazersCHL681952719851459
1971–72Boston BruinsNHL110226
1971–72California Golden SealsNHL5716233954
1972–73California Golden SealsNHL5611233458
1973–74California Golden SealsNHL7725315622
1974–75Chicago Black HawksNHL802443675484262
1975–76Chicago Black HawksNHL782834623340110
1976–77Chicago Black HawksNHL802438624020110
1977–78Chicago Black HawksNHL803545803440222
1978–79Chicago Black HawksNHL6629356425
1978–79Atlanta FlamesNHL136814620222
1979–80Atlanta FlamesNHL5216244020
1979–80Vancouver CanucksNHL271611271440220
1980–81Vancouver CanucksNHL722633593411120
1981–82Vancouver CanucksNHL78334073451783114
1982–83Vancouver CanucksNHL395202512
1982–83Detroit Red WingsNHL3313173014
1983–84Detroit Red WingsNHL753548832040554
1984–85Detroit Red WingsNHL751930491620110
NHL totals 1052 361 505 866 507 48 13 20 33 14

Awards and accomplishments

  • Played in NHL-All Star game 1978
  • OHL Second All-Star Team, 1969

See also


  1. Kurzberg, Brad (2006). Shorthanded: The Untold Story of the Seals: Hockey's Most Colorful Team. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. p. 175. ISBN 1-42591-028-9.
Preceded by
Frank Spring
Boston Bruins first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Reggie Leach
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