BOSTON: Dennis Bonvie, one of the most intimidating men to ever lace a pair of skates, had a chance to look back on his hockey career when attending the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame induction night as one of the guests of honour. The experience left the Antigonish County native feeling extremely thankful, he said.
“I was asked if I’d be interested in being inducted, and for me it was a no-brainer,” said Bonvie, speaking to The Reporter early last week.
“There were 12 people inducted, and it was quite an honour. My family was there, friends too. It was a very nice ceremony.”
Now a professional scout with the Boston Bruins, the Frankville native was inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame on August 13. The ceremony took place in Luzerne, Pennsylvania.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of hockey knows Bonvie, who retired from the game in 2008, earned a reputation for being the toughest guy on the ice in whatever rink he played – be it in the American Hockey League rink or the National Hockey League.
His final season was with into the Wilkes-Barr/Scranton Penguins, where he spent three consecutive seasons before retiring. He was also with the team in 1999-00 and 2000-01, when he divided his time between the AHL squad and the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I was with Wilkes-Barr/Scranton when the team first started in ’99, and that was really exciting,” he said. “And I eventually came back. My wife and I, along with our kids, love it there. It’s our home now, but Nova Scotia is always going to be our home too.
“It was a real nice honour to be induced [into the team’s hall of fame] too.”
As he indicated, he was also also named to the Wilkes-Barr/Scranton hall of fame. He received that honour during the franchise’s 2013-14 season. Maybe even more of an honour than the hall of fame induction is the fact that the team’s home rink, the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, is commonly known as the “house that Bonvie built.”
Bonvie’s legendary status includes 92 games played in the NHL and 871 in the AHL. In the AHL, Bonvie’s toughness and unwillingness to back down resulted in a league record of 4,493 penalty minutes. (His NHL total is 311).
The player closest to matching Bonvie’s numbers was former Washington Capitals’ draft pick Rob Murray, who finished his AHL career with the Springfield Falcons in 2002-03. Though playing over 100 more games than Bonvie (1018 in total) he racked up 1500 fewer minutes in the box (2940 in total).
Indeed, Bonvie’s AHL penalty minute total is larger than the numbers of any NHL player. Tiger Williams, who hung up the skates in 1987-88 after a season with the Hartford Whalers, is the NHL’s all-time PIM leader with 3966.
When asked if being inducted into the halls of fame made him think back over his playing career, Bonvie said both inductions were occasions for a trip down memory lane.
“I thought I was fortunate when I got a chance to play one game of pro hockey, and I ended up playing 15 years later,” he said. “It really makes you look back on all your time. It certainly makes you grateful for having been able to play a game you love for a long time.
“I wish I could have played forever, but I know that can’t be the case.”
Bonvie’s playing days may be behind him, but working with an NHL franchise like the Bruins is a dream come true, he said. The team begins regular season play on October 5 when visiting the Nashville Predators.