It's the best time of year!
What were you doing 39 years ago?
That was the last time the Boston Bruins lifted hockey’s Holy Grail. Mark Recchi, at four years old, was probably playing hockey in his driveway. The rest of the Bruins players were not even born yet. Heck, if you’re reading this, you may not be 39 years old.
Bruins bloggers Mark Marino, 33, and Tim Rosenthal, 25, also didn’t get to experience the B’s beating the Rangers for the Stanley Cup in 1972. They have followed the team their whole life and mentioned the atmosphere in the city right now is electric, one week after the Bruins won Game 7 in Vancouver.
“It’s absolutely nuts,” said Marino. “Every news station you turn on, it’s the Bruins. Even all of the older people at work are talking about the Bruins. It’s definitely the all-time high since I’ve been alive.
“Driving around in the suburbs, there’s black and gold everywhere. Everyone at work is still wearing their Bruins hats and t-shirts. There are cars on the highway that have that black and gold paint on them; people writing on their back windshields ‘Stanley Cup Champs.’”
Goaltender Tim Thomas has been a part of the Bruins organization for eight years, and has been in the city when the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox all won titles. He’s glad to see the fans be able to experience a championship with its hockey team.
“It’s good to see the city be able to celebrate like that for hockey,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of happy people. Boston is a hockey city and they’ve been waiting for a moment like this for a long time.”
Rosenthal, who primarily writes for Inside Hockey, drew some comparisons of this Bruins title to the one the Red Sox won in 2004, where they snapped an 86-year drought. Though the Bruins didn’t wait half as long as the Sox, both had similar failures along the way.
“(The Bruins) obviously didn’t come back from a 3-0 deficit,” Rosenthal said, “but they had to overcome a collapse from the previous year. Both of those teams were very resilient. It’s kind of up there with the 2001 Patriots as well. They were big underdogs that year and the Bruins, before the season, weren’t considered a true Stanley Cup threat.”
Marino, who runs Hub of Hockey, mentioned there was a seed of doubt in the fan base when the Bruins fell down 2-0 to the rival Canadiens in the first round.
“We were all just so used to epic failure,” Marino said. “But after that incredible series, it really built up a lot of momentum and it gave the Bruins fans a lot of confidence and excitement heading into the Philadelphia series because everyone knew what happened last year.”
What happened last year against the Flyers is something that everyone in Boston would like to forget. However, following that collapse with a Stanley Cup victory was the perfect vindication.
“You don’t look at the past and you just move on,” Rosenthal said. “And that’s what this Bruins team did all year. Even in February when they made the moves to get Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tomas Kaberle, they kind of changed the locker room from the dead-weight from recent postseasons and gained some fresh new blood. It paid dividends.”
Rosenthal went on to describe that 2010 loss to the Flyers as “devastating” to the fans.
“A lot of people had their doubts,” he said. “With Claude Julien, a lot of people were calling for his head, even this year. A lot of people blamed the owners, a lot of people blamed the too-many-men penalty in Game 7, which resulted in the deciding goal.”
One player that helped turn things around against Philadelphia this spring was Tim Thomas. In Game 2 of the second round this May, Thomas made 52 saves in an overtime win, which was one of the finest performances of the playoffs. He etched his name into Bruins lore with his standout postseason, which included a Conn Smythe Trophy and a miniscule 1.98 goals-against average.
After a record-setting season, from start to finish, is it safe to put Thomas in the same sentence as Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely, as far as Bruins greats go?
“You have to,” said Marino. “I don’t think this guy is a flash in the pan. After this series, you could easily say that he carried this team. There’s no argument about it. Without him, they probably would have been golfing after Game 5 or 6 against Montreal. To put his name in the same sentence as those other guys (Orr, Neely, etc.) – even though it’s only been a couple years of his greatness – with how good he was and the outcome, absolutely put his name with those greats.”
The fans in Boston have experienced somewhat of a rebirth in recent years, similarly to Chicago and Pittsburgh. Marino mentioned one of the lowest points of the franchise was when Joe Thornton was traded to San Jose in 2006. But after four consecutive playoff appearances, and now a Stanley Cup, TD Garden is once again hopping.
The Bruins have had 84 consecutive sellouts; and during this run to the Cup, the arena was as loud as it’s ever been. A huge gathering came out to the airport the morning after the team won the Cup to greet the team. Additionally, 1.5 million fans showed up to the parade in downtown – the largest attended championship parade in the city’s history.
“It was so exciting,” Zdeno Chara said of bringing the Cup to Boston. “The fans were so happy and that made us happy. You saw all of these generations of people coming out into the streets and in the windows, being so thankful that we brought the Cup back. When you’re making someone else happy like that, that’s obviously all you need to see.”
Hopefully it doesn’t take another 39 years for Bruins fans to experience this kind of excitement.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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