Bruins raise championship banner

It took all of 30 seconds — 40, tops — to raise the 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner to the TD Garden rafters tonight.

But Bruins fans couldn’t be faulted if they’d chosen a different measure of time to mark the occasion. Thirty-nine years is a long time to wait for anything.

Such a gap between the 1972 championship of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and the beloved Big, Bad Bruins and the one secured by the 2010-11 edition that June night in Vancouver may have been prolonged and at times agonizing. But what was evident at last summer’s championship parade through Boston’s streets was again confirmed during the pregame banner-raising ceremony tonight.


The Bruins and their fans haven’t forgotten how to properly celebrate.

The ceremony began, appropriately enough, with the Bruins logo-adorned ‘‘fan banner,’’ a staple at Bruins playoff games since the 2009 Eastern Conference finals, being passed around the loge sections.

At 7 p.m., a mesmerizing and nostalgic video featuring highlights from past championship teams as well as from each of the Bruins’ four 2011 postseason series was shown on the scoreboard.

The package was accompanied by images shown on enormous 360-screen at center ice that looked like a white curtain surrounding the faceoff circle.

Its additional purpose was soon apparent: When the video ended, the screen dropped to the ice, revealing the golden banner with black lettering adorned with words Bruins fans had longed to see:


The unveiling of the banner was followed by the arrival on ice of the players who made it happen — including two who are no longer Bruins but will always be remembered as such.

Zdeno Chara, the captain, led the way, and to say the cheers were raucous would be akin to saying goalie Tim Thomas played just pretty well in the postseason. The cheers never waned as the Bruins took turns raising the Cup, but they may have hit their crescendo not for Chara or Thomas, but for Mark Recchi, the savvy winger and alternate captain on the champions who retired after Game 7. Recchi was joined by defensemen Shane Hnidy as the two alumni from last year’s team to participate.


‘‘It was the last time I’ll be on the ice as an NHL player be around my teammates in that aspect,’’ said Recchi, who admitted to having chills. ‘‘To be on the ice with them and be in Boston with this crowd — the reaction to winning the Stanley Cup has been absolutely amazing in this city, and how much it has embraced this. It’s a special time, and I was glad to be able to share it tonight.’’

With a single spotlight on the Bruins bench and another on the Stanley Cup at center ice, Bruins president Cam Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli, and owner Jeremy Jacobs each briefly addressed the crowd. The biggest roars were reserved for Neely, which was no surprise. That Jacobs was also cheered might have been on a past night, but tonight it was further confirmation that everything is copacetic between the franchise and its fans nowadays.

Then came perhaps most sentimental moment of the night, and certainly a reminder of the brotherhood of last year’s team. Andrew Ference presented Recchi with the jacket — purchased by the defenseman on eBay, Recchi revealed — that came to symbolize the Bruins unity during the Cup run. After each victory along the way, it was presented to the player of the game as determined by his peers. Recchi was given the jacket after Game 7.

‘‘To get the jacket last in Vancouver and then get it repeated tonight, in front of the home crowd, is something I’ll never forget,’’ said Recchi, who said the jacket will be preserved on display in the dressing room.


The jacket presentation was the final prelude to the moment everyone came to see. Members of the 1972 champs, led by Orr, then took the ice to help raise the banner, the legendary champs joining the new champs. As Chara, Thomas, Recchi and Patrice Bergeron, joined by Neely and other ownership and management personnel, tugged the ropes to hoist the banner skyward, the 17,565 in attendance rocked the Garden once more.

It took less than a minute to arrive at its destination to the left of the ’72 banner. And it took all of 39 years.


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