Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2011, 33

Members of the Bruins past and present prepare the 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner to be raised to the rafters of the TD Garden.
Members of the Bruins past and present prepare the 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner to be raised to the rafters of the TD Garden. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The summer of celebration culminates each year in raising the Stanley Cup banner to the rafters prior to the first home game of the new season.

And so it was on Thursday, October 6, as the Boston Bruins prepared to defend their Stanley Cup in the season-opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at the TD Garden.

Amidst dramatic music, a rink lit solely by spotlights and the non-stop camera flashes of thousands of cellphones and in front of a hushed crowd, the Bruins gathered around the Stanley Cup. The polished trophy had arrived at the arena earlier by way of firetruck. Each player, including recently retired Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy, both dressed in uniform, took a turn hoisting the Stanley Cup one final time before the new season began, and the fans went wild as each, in turn, raised the Cup to the heavens.

Management addressed the crowd, lauding the players, who endured a 25-game run through the NHL playoffs, including three Game Seven wins, to secure the Stanley Cup.

"They did it with skill, they did it with courage and they did it with grit," stated Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins' general manager.

"It was an amazing, amazing run," said team president Cam Neely. "Let's say we do it again!"

Team captain Zdeno Chara spoke on behalf of the team. "We want to thank you for everything you did for us. All the support. But most of all, for believing in us. As a team, we really feel you guys won it with us."

The 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner is raised to the rafters of the TD Garden.
The 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner is raised to the rafters of the TD Garden.
(Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
"We've waited long enough," stated Jeremy Jacobs, the owner of the Boston Bruins. "Let's get this damn thing up!"

The drama really began to unfold. "What makes this organization great is its history, and we conclude tonight's festivities by raising a banner with a little help from those who raised the banner before us." In turn, out walked Don Marcotte, Johnny McKenzie, Derek Sanderson, Todd Bailey, representing his father Garnet who perished in the 9/11 tragedies, Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr and 93-year-old Milt Schmidt, all Stanley Cup champions with the Bruins in the past and representing championships in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970 and 1972.

With the Stanley Cup nearby, the banner was passed amongst the players — those from the past on the left side and Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron from the most recent win, on the right. The banner then passed through the hands of team executives and owners to a spot on the far side of the rink. There, it was attached to clips and was hoisted to its waiting spot in the rafters of the TD Garden, right beside the banner from 1972.

'BOSTON BRUINS STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS 2011'

The cacophony was deafening. The flashes of light from camera near-blinding. And then, it was time for the reigning champions to get down to business.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers edged Boston 2-1 in a spirited contest, but it did little to defuse the enthusiasm of an evening never to be forgotten.

* * *

On Friday, we'll conclude this year's Stanley Cup Journal by introducing you to Cup Keepers, those tireless workers who accompanied the Stanley Cup through all of this past summer's journeys with the Boston Bruins.

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

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