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Thinking About: John Peirson

Wednesday, 06.06.2007 / 8:16 AM / Features
By Joe Beare  - Student Correspondent | BostonBruins.com
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Thinking About: John Peirson
John Peirson, Bruins Player
John Peirson (left) is best known to current Bruins fans for his 20 years of color commentary alongside legendary television play-by-play announcer Fred Cusick. However, Peirson also spent his fair share of time on the Garden ice before he provided analysis off of it.

Peirson, a World War II veteran, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1925. Upon his return from the war, Johnny skated at McGill University during the 1945-46 season, where he was spotted by Boston scouts and offered a spot with their top affiliate team.

Eager to earn some extra money for schooling, Peirson began his professional career in the Bruins system as a member of the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League in 1946. Though his original intent was to skate towards the opportunity for higher education, a series of fortunate events led to what would become a fruitful lifetime career in the sport.

While Peirson was busy putting up impressive numbers on the farm, splitting the first half of the 1946-47 season between the Boston Olympics and Hershey Bears, the NHL found itself in the middle of an embarrassing gambling scandal. The resolution of the problem led to the eventual dismissal of several players from the league, opening the door to the NHL for top young prospects such as Johnny Peirson.

Though Peirson would only skate in five games through his rookie season, in which he was held pointless, he was officially in the NHL to stay. Over the course of the next ten seasons, Peirson was the picture of consistency, playing a solid two-way game and epitomizing the team-first mentality that he brought to the rink each day.

Peirson hit the 20-goal plateau on four separate occasions; including a personal best 27 goals and 52 points in the 1949-50 season. After the 1953-54 season, Peirson retired from the game, but his absence was brief. He returned to the Boston Bruins midway through the 1955-56 campaign for another three year stint in the Black & Gold before finally calling it quits in 1958.

Peirson, who played in two NHL All-Star Games, left the game having racked up 153 goals and 173 assists for 326 points in 545 games. His playoff production was just as consistent, totaling 26 points through 49 post-season games. And as his 315 penalty minutes indicate, he was not one to shy away from the rough stuff.

A cerebral player in the Selke mold, Peirson brought his broad understanding of the game to the broadcast booth in 1969, serving as Bruins color commentator on WBZ radio alongside Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Fred Cusick.

The pair worked the radio airwaves together for two seasons -- described by Cusick in his autobiography as the best two years he spent in broadcasting.

The Bruins would win a Stanley Cup in 1970 with Peirson and Cusick behind the microphone, followed by a year of unparalleled regular season success.

Following a first round upset in 1971, Peirson and Cusick were asked to bring their
Bruins Broadcaster, John Peirson
broadcasting talents to the small screen, where they would serve together as the voices of Bruins television for 18 years.

Less than a year after their hiring, Peirson and Cusick were asked to cover the now legendary 1972 Summit series between the Canadian professional all-stars and the Russian National Team. The pair covered the first four games for viewers south of the Canadian border in what was North America’s first real taste of a Russian squad that would be dominant on the world stage for the next decade.

After more than twenty years of broadcasting, Peirson decided to call it a day, retiring over four decades after his career began on the ice in a Bruins sweater.

Today, he lives in Wayland and, like many former Bruins, checks in several times a year.

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