Boston Bruins players pose with the Stanley Cup and championship banner prior to facing the Philadelphia Flyers on opening night in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON - The Boston Bruins turned to their past to celebrate their latest Stanley Cup victory, inviting Bobby Orr and other members of the 1972 champions to help raise the franchise's sixth banner to the TD Garden rafters.
After giving the local fans a chance to see the Cup passed from player to player—the Bruins won Game 7 in Vancouver, so that celebration was on the road—the banner was lowered from a temporary spot beneath the scoreboard. Waiting for it were Orr and a half-dozen teammates, including John (Chief) Bucyk, Pie McKenzie, Ken Hodge and Derek Sanderson.
Milt Schmidt, 93, who won the Cup as a player in 1939 and '41 and was the general manager of the teams that won in '70 and '72, was also there. Ace Bailey, a two-time Cup winner who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was represented by his son Todd.
"It's been a long time, and I think they're glad to share the Stanley Cup with some other people and excited about it," said former Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who retired after last year's Cup victory—the third in his career. "They were our biggest supporters all year, and it's great to have all those guys out there and come and pass it on to the '11 team."
With help from the current players, they clipped the banner onto wires that would raise it to its permanent home. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and the rest of the 2010-11 team took turns raising the banner into the rafters.
"We as a team feel you guys won it with us," Chara told the crowd. "So you deserve it. You earned it. Enjoy it."
Orr always gets a big cheer in Boston, and the Cup is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, but even Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs got a warm welcome from fans who waited 39 years for another title. The most sentimental note of the night was when Andrew Ference took the microphone and presented Recchi with the ratty track jacket the team bestowed last season on the star of each night's game.
"He taught us what it meant to be champions and how to become champions," Ference said.
Recchi said he had no idea that was coming.
"Got me pretty choked up," he said. "To be on the ice with them and be in Boston with the crowd—the reaction to us winning the Stanley Cup has been absolutely amazing. What this city has, how much they've embraced it and enjoyed it. It's a special time, and I was glad I was able to share it with Boston fans and be a part of it on the ice, too."
The Bruins wore patches on their jerseys that were replicas of the championship banner. On Tuesday, they received championship rings featuring the spoked "B" logo on top and more than 300 diamonds in all.
The half-hour ceremony was before the regular-season opener against Philadelphia, which the Flyers won 2-1.
"(I was) doing my best to keep my mind on doing my job. It was emotional," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "When you see highlights of your players going around carrying the Cup, it's emotional. It was tough for me. I had to walk away for a while. (We) knew emotionally it was going to be a tough game."