By Joe Haggerty
VANCOUVER When Shawn Thornton and Mark Recchi get talking about their experiences winning the Stanley Cup, something happens in the Bruins dressing room.
It gets really, really quiet.
The eyes in the room get a little wider and players linger a little longer as Recchi talks about carrying the Cup as a young man in Pittsburgh and a grizzled veteran in Carolina, and Thornton tells what it was like to win it with Anaheim.
The elation when you won it that night was hard to explain, said Thornton. There are no words to explain it. It was the greatest day of my life. All those bus rides, all the three games in 2 12 days and fighting five times in three nights in the minors . . . all that crap was finally worth it. All those feelings really come together at once when you win the Cup and its kind of emotional actually.
Of course, Thornton also had a brush with the Cup early in his NHL career when Bruins legend Bobby Orr brought it to an annual Oshawa golf tournament and offered the young enforcer a chance to take a picture with it around the 17th hole.
Im pretty sure he didnt know who I was, but, being such a nice guy, Bobby offered me a chance to get a picture with the Cup, said Thornton. I think Id had 12-15 NHL games in my belt at that point. I said No, Im good, because you never freakin know if your chance is going to come to win it.
Now Im glad I didnt. I never thought it would happen for me, but it did eventually. I told Bobby Id take a picture with him. Just not with that big trophy.
Last week, Recchi and Thornton brought their Stanley Cup rings into the Bs dressing room prior to Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two veterans wanted to show the rest of their teammates exactly what it is they were playing for. Suffice to say, the ploy was effective when it came to getting the Bruins ready to play in the biggest game of their lives.
Now Recchi is hoping to see his teammates carry thay feeling through to the Cup Final, so the aging winger can watch the celebration hes been envisioning in his head for two years.
This is a great time, and you might never see it come again, said Recchi. Its the ultimate dream for all of us, and its exactly what you set out to do as a hockey player. Its what I dreamed of when I was playing street hockey with my brothers, and playing out on the ponds in the winter with your buddies.
I want to win it for the rest of the guys in here more than anything else. Ive been lucky enough to win it a couple times, and I want to win another one. Thats why I came back. But I also want to see the rest of these guys put a Cup up in the air. I want to party with them.
Among these Bruins, only Recchi and Thornton know what its like to hoist the 34 12-pound Cup over their heads. For Thornton, the Cup didnt feel heavy at all the night the Ducks won it, but he remembers it getting a little tougher to drag around when he had it for a day in Oshawa.
Recchi had a handful of hours with the Cup his first time around in Pittsburgh, but he probably didnt appreciate it as much as he might have after winning the World Junior, the Turner Cup and the Stanley Cup over a span of four years as a young NHL star. Winning, at that time, was something he'd come to expect.
But it didn't happen again for 15 years. So the second experience with the Cup, as a member of the Hurricanes, was a memorable one. Recchi had it for a day of revelry that finished with the then 38-year-old sleeping with the Cup in his bed.
Recchi said Monday he'll retire if the Bruins can take down the favored Canucks and he also has a 1970 bottle of Bordeaux wine hell crack open if he gets to celebrate one more championship with a band of teammates hes grown to love playing with over the last three years.
Regardless of what happens, this will go down as one of the best groups Ive ever played with, said Recchi. Its one of the most enjoyable Ive been with. Ive played with a lot of great groups of guys, and this one ranks right up there.
That tightness and togetherness is one thing that would make a Cup celebration all the sweeter for players who have been pulling for each other since heading for Europe in September. And the celebration should be a pretty easy one if they get there.
Just follow the leads of Recchi and Thornton. Theyve been there before.