The Bruins held their annual ''State of the Bruins'' group hug with season-ticket holders tonight at the Garden.
Team president Cam Neely proclaimed the state of the team to be, "Probably never as good as it is today--both on and off the ice.''
Some 2,000 fans attended the event, which began at 5:30. NESN's Andy Brickley was the emcee, joined on stage by team owner Jeremy Jacobs, Charlie Jacobs, GM Peter Chiarelli, coach Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Thomas.
Team captain Zdeno Chara was expected to attend, but Big Z is en route to Slovakia to attend funeral services for his close pal Pavol Demitra, killed in last week's air crash in Russia that claimed the lives of the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv club. Ex-Bruin Brad McCrimmon also perished in the crash.
Chiarelli during and after the event continued not to answer questions about the contract status of left winger Brad Marchand. Asked if he must now plan for Marchand not to start training camp this weekend, Chiarelli said, ''I can't answer that.''
Longtime NHL writer Bruce Garrioch reported this weekend in Ottawa, Chiarelli's hometown, that the Bruins are shopping Marchand around the league.
Jacobs, the team owner, on winning: '''Somebody said winning wasn't everything...I don't think that person ever lifted that Cup.''
The club's existing five Stanley Cup banners were decommissioned over the summer and new flags hoisted to the rafters here tonight. No. 6 will be put in place when the Flyers are here Oct. 6 for the season opener.
Neely announced that the club soon will put on sale an ''exclusive line'' of Stanley Cup jewelry. ''If anyone is interested in Stanley Cup bling,'' he said.