Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2011, 01

The Stanley Cup headed to Vanvouver for Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.
(Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
And so, after a two-month post-season tournament, it all came down to a one-game winner take all contest between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins. In our childhood dreams, this was always the scenario. Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final is akin to the season-ending finale of the greatest reality show imaginable. In fact, that's exactly what hockey is!

This was a highly unusual series.

The drama was thick and the storylines plentiful. It was a quixotic series — both skilled and nasty with neither team able to win on the road — with games played in Vancouver close, low-scoring victories for the home team while contests in Boston were goal-filled spankings administered on the Canucks by the Bruins.

Game 1: 1-0 Canucks in Vancouver.
Game 2: 3-2 Canucks in overtime in Vancouver
Game 3: 8-1 Bruins in Boston
Game 4: 4-0 Bruins in Boston
Game 5: 1-0 Canucks in Vancouver
Game 6: 5-2 Bruins in Boston

Boston's Milan Lucic answers questions
from the media following his team's
Stanley Cup win over Vancouver.
(Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
And then, on Wednesday, June 15, the Stanley Cup championship was decided when the Boston Bruins broke the template and defeated the Canucks in Vancouver. The Boston Bruins are the 2011 victors!

But let's step back and find out where the teams have been before we find out where they'll be going.

The Boston Bruins entered the NHL in 1924, and going into Game 7, had won the Stanley Cup on five occasions: 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970 and 1972. Prior to this spring, the Bruins last made the Final in 1990 when they lost to Edmonton's Oilers.

But if Boston was hungry for a Stanley Cup, then Vancouver was ravenous. The franchise made its NHL debut in 1970 and has never won the Stanley Cup. The last time they were close was in 1994 when they went to seven games in the Final against the eventual champion New York Rangers.

The 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.
(Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The tempo of the game started fast and furious but settled down appreciably as the first period wound down. Boston drew first blood when Patrice Bergeron scored at 14:37 of the first. Brad Marchand scored at 12:13 of the second to give Boston their second goal, and with that, the Vancouver crowd grew silent. At 17:35, Bergeron scored Boston's third goal, a contentious shorthanded tally and his second of the night. Although the game still had twenty minutes to play, the result was becoming more clear by the moment. Marchand scored his second goal of the game, an empty-net insurance marker at 17:16 of the third and by then, it was all over but the shouting.

Like the players, the Stanley Cup had been in Boston for Game 6, just in case the Canucks took the game and won the series. But as the score wasn't close that night (a 5-2 Bruins' win), the Cup was never taken from its case. In fact, the Stanley Cup never even entered the TD Garden that evening; the first time in memory that has happened. After Game 6, the Cup travelled from Boston to Vancouver by way of Toronto, arriving safely on Canada's west coast.

Boston's Tyler Seguin is all smiles following his team's Stanley Cup win over Vancouver.
(Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The city was eerily quiet through the day, with fans gathering around the arena and businesses closing down early so that everybody could watch the game in some venue. But by 3:00PM, the downtown streets were rocking in anticipation of the deciding contest.

Cup Keepers Craig Campbell and Phil Pritchard, both executives with the Hockey Hall of Fame, were given a police escort through the streets of Vancouver in order to get the Stanley Cup to the Rogers Centre. And while the game was in progress, the Stanley Cup quietly made its entrance into the arena.

The Cup was carried into the officials' room, where it was carefully removed from its case and polished to a pristine shine.

The time clock wound down: 20 seconds, then 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The result had been determined much earlier but that final buzzer was the sweetest sound the Bruins had ever heard. While the Bruins rejoiced, embracing in the space in front of netminder Tim Thomas, the proud Canucks saluted their fans at centre ice. What followed was one of the great traditions in sport: the congratulatory handshake. Two teams with a genuine hatred on the ice through seven games now stepping up, exchanging words of congratulations while shaking hands. Included in the Boston line was Nathan Horton, unable to play because of an injury suffered in the Final, but suited up in his equipment as part of the team.

Conn Smythe trophy winner Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins hoisting the Stanley Cup.
(Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
A red carpet leading up to a table was set out on the ice at the Rogers Arena, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman strode out for the presentation. Amidst a cacophony of fan noise, he said, "Congratulations to two great teams! The winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy...Tim Thomas!"

The Tim Thomas story is rather remarkable. After starring in goal for the University of Vermont (where Tampa sniper Martin St. Louis was a teammate), Thomas was the 217th player selected in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the choice of the Quebec Nordiques. The next several years turned into a hockey odyssey, taking him through the AHL, IHL, ECHL and over to Finland and Sweden. Along the way, he was picked up as a free agent by Edmonton in 1998, but never played with the NHL squad. The Bruins signed him as a free agent in 2002, and in 2002-03, he played four games. It wasn't until 2005-06, though, that he finally became an NHL fixture. Thomas was superb during the 2010-11 playoffs, backstopping the Bruins with his gymnastic exhibitions of goaltending that saw him earn four playoff shutouts, including two in the Final against Vancouver. There seemed little doubt that he was the overwhelming choice, and the Vancouver fans gave him a wonderful ovation.

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins taking time to reflect on his team's Stanley Cup win. (Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The extraordinary Stanley Cup was then carefully carried by Cup Keepers Craig Campbell and Phil Pritchard, wearing the blazers and white gloves that have become synonymous with the Stanley Cup presentation, and placed on a table. Commissioner Bettman again took the microphone, and although his words were partially drowned out by the crowd's roar, managed to say, "Zdeno Chara, it is my honour to present you with the Stanley Cup!" Chara reached down and hoisted hockey's greatest prize, whooping with unbridled enthusiasm.

Chara circled the rink, and then handed the Cup to Mark Recchi, who later announced that this championship game was his last in the NHL. Recchi handed off to Bergeron, who then passed the Cup to Thomas who, in turn, gave it to Tomas Kaberle and on and on.

Chara told CBC's `Hockey Night in Canada' that being handed the Stanley Cup was a huge honour. "I'll remember that moment for the rest of my life."

Carrying the Stanley Cup to centre ice, the captain summoned his teammates for a photo around the trophy, another wonderful championship tradition. Zdeno then briefly took the Cup into the dressing room, but it was quickly returned to the ice surface where friends and family gathered to celebrate with their boys.

Boston's Steve Kampfer, Adam McQuaid and Brad Marchand celebrating following a
Stanley Cup win over Vancouver.
(Craig Campbell/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The on-ice celebration continued with most of the players, their families and friends, for close to two hours. Celebratory embraces, photos and reliving the experience took place there on enemy ice. The celebration then moved into the dressing room, continuing until midnight. Joining the players and their guests were several Hall of Famers, including team president Cam Neely, Harry Sinden, who is now a senior advisor to the Bruins' owner, and Johnny Bucyk, the team's director of road services. The last time the Bruins were awarded the Stanley Cup, it was Bucyk who was handed the trophy by then-NHL president Clarence Campbell.

There was a plane to catch, so the celebration continued on the buses that took the Bruins to the airport. Vancouver Police escorted the buses past the unrest happening in downtown Vancouver. The Bruins were horrified at what they saw as they drove away from the arena, and hoped things would be brought under control quickly. The team arrived back in Boston as dawn was breaking on the east coast.

And so begins another summer with Stanley. The Cup will be taken to cities, towns and hamlets all over the world as each of the Bruins enjoys a day to celebrate with the Stanley Cup. Join us every Tuesday and Friday through the summer as we chronicle the trophy's travels accompanied by great photos in our exclusive Stanley Cup Journal.

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Make sure you join us again on Tuesday, as we take readers to the streets of Boston for the Stanley Cup parade.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

All Photographs are property of the Hockey Hall of Fame or Getty Images and may not be reproduced without prior written consent. For more information regarding use of our photographs please contact us.
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