June 22, 2024


“While you have a look at the Boston Bruins, you are seeing town of Boston and the individuals of Boston.”

Players on the 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup-champion Boston Bruins teams raise banners before the Bruins' NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, as part of the team's season-long centennial celebrations Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Boston.
Bobby Orr and a number of other different legends from the “Massive Dangerous Bruins” period returned to TD Backyard on Saturday night time. (AP Photograph/Michael Dwyer)

The “Massive Dangerous Bruins” left their mark on hockey historical past in a number of methods.

Not solely did they stamp their names on Lord Stanley’s Cup twice in three years, they wove themselves into the very cloth of the spoked-B that they represented each time they took to the ice.

As Phil Esposito routinely lit the lamp and Bobby Orr shattered the notion of what offensive wizardry rested within the skates of blueliners, the bruising play of beloved gamers like Johnny “Pie” McKenzie, Wayne Cashman, and Derek Sanderson elicited cheers from the hometown crowd with every thunderous test delivered towards the previous Boston Backyard boards.

There was little that such a fruitful period in Bruins historical past failed to perform throughout their time collectively on the ice.

However on Saturday night time — over 51 years since that group final hoisted the Stanley Cup collectively — two championship rosters solid one other reminiscence collectively on Causeway Road.

For the primary time collectively, gamers from each of Boston’s 1970 and 1972 championship squads raised their respective championship banners into the TD Backyard rafters as a part of the opening festivities on “Massive Dangerous Bruins Evening.”

“It’s been some time,” former blueliner Dallas Smith mentioned of what went by way of his thoughts whereas serving to his teammates elevate these banners. “You simply assume, ‘Effectively I’m fortunate sufficient to be a part of a winner.’ It’s good to have the ability to do this.”

The choice to boost the banners as a part of the most recent centennial-season celebration in Boston was a simple name for Bruins president Cam Neely.

“Again within the day, they simply confirmed up the subsequent 12 months — the banner was already within the rafters,” Neely famous, including: “I didn’t notice it till a number of months in the past that they by no means raised the banner. So it was type of cool to have the ability to get that have.”

Earlier than the Bruins confronted off towards the Habs in a spirited Authentic Six showdown at TD Backyard, over 20 Bruins alumni took half within the pregame ceremony — with legends like Orr, Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Gerry Cheevers, and different franchise pillars serving to their former teammates hoist their banners excessive above the frozen sheet.

“Seeing it carried out in different cities and the way they went about it meant rather a lot to our guys,” Cashman mentioned. “You actually really feel the championship and the way you attempt to win it while you get to boost the flag. We had by no means carried out it earlier than we did at present. Now we all know what it’s like to boost a banner in entrance of an awesome city, nice metropolis and nice individuals.”

The importance of Saturday’s pregame ceremony was not misplaced on the present Bruins taking within the festivities from the bench, particularly those that know what it’s prefer to mark a Stanley Cup championship alongside their teammates.

“We now have an actual appreciation and respect for these guys,” Brad Marchand mentioned after Boston’s 5-2 win over Montreal. “It was unbelievable to sit down and hearken to them earlier and listen to some tales and discuss concerning the variations within the sport. … It actually was a particular second to see them raise the banners.

“You don’t notice how lucky you might be to undergo every and all the pieces that comes with profitable the Cup, and a kind of issues is elevating the banner. These days are over simply as fast as they occur. It’s a blur as you’re going by way of it. And for these guys to overlook out on that again then and have that chance — it was particular to be part of and particular to see and I’m very glad for them.”

Loads has modified because the final time these former Bruins took the ice collectively. The barn they as soon as referred to as residence was shut down 28 years in the past. Even the acquainted environment of Causeway Road have been blanketed amid wave after wave of development and concrete overhaul.

“I don’t assume I may go outdoors the constructing for 4 ft, I’d be misplaced,” Cashman mentioned with a smile.

However Saturday’s ceremony supplied a uncommon alternative for previous reminiscences to be rekindled round a gaggle of hockey gamers who penned a cherished chapter on this metropolis’s historical past.

“It’s about life. It’s what we did,” Cashman mentioned of the previous reminiscences shared throughout this reunion. “We got here right here and represented a metropolis, a city, a individuals. … The Bruins workforce [is] what Boston is. While you have a look at the Boston Bruins, you’re seeing town of Boston and the individuals of Boston. That’s the best way they’re, they care about one another, they bind collectively and so they have success.”

And regardless that not one of the Bruins who took to the ice towards the Habs on Saturday can glean any first-hand data of these “Massive Dangerous Bruins”, their impression shouldn’t be misplaced on a gaggle of gamers seeking to forge an identical legacy in Boston.

“That’s a motivator that I’ve all the time had is to etch historical past,” Jeremy Swayman mentioned postgame. “And to have the ability to be on the stage to do this now could be one thing that I’m enthusiastic about. And I do know that it’s an enormous motivator for myself and I might like to be of their sneakers someday, doing the identical factor.”