Bruins arrive home with the Cup

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Bruins arrive home with the Cup

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- The yellow charter buses blared their arrival to the TD Garden parking lot. The lead driver laid on the horn, grinning like a Cheshire cat as he steered Boston's most precious passenger to a safe stop.

The Stanley Cup, returned to the Hub after 39 years.

Bruins fans were already waiting. Whether in suits or sundresses, hundreds gathered to welcome their winning warriors home and catch a glimpse of hockey's sacred mug.

Captain Zdeno Chara held the trophy in his arms. The hulking blueliner carried the Cup off the bus, stepping off behind Shawn Thornton and raising it high above his head. A smile spread over Chara's face and he bit down on his bottom lip as though trying to hold back his heart from jumping out of his throat. The cheering throng surged as he walked around the bus unprompted to show them, to share it, let them touch it, so they could be certain it wasn't all a dream.

"He's bigger in person!" one fan marveled. "And so is the Cup."

Rookie Tyler Seguin stumbled out into the crowd, black pinstripe blazer over his white Stanley Cup championship t-shirt. He wore the matching hat backwards, slightly off kilter and unintentionally so. Seguin looked exhausted, drunk on champagne and joy.

"How does this sound: Tyler Seguin, Stanley Cup champion?" a reporter asked.

He rubbed his eyes with one hand as a slow smile spread across his face. "It feels amazing."

Tuukka Rask wandered over and he and Seguin slung arms across each other's shoulders. Seguin put a hand affectionately to Rask's head, where Nathan Horton's helmet sat (also askew), unclasped.

"I can't describe it," Seguin said. "It was a dream come true." His voice was softened by sleeplessness.

Shawn Thornton, trademark aviators on, was more brisk in his answers. When asked what he would do during his day with the Cup, he didn't hesitate. "Who knows? Haven't thought about it." And he was gone.

Three Bruins piled into a Boston police car for a ride home. As the squad vehicle slowly rolled through the crowd, the trio raised their hands in celebration through the backseat bars. The crowd returned the salute. They were tired, too, but equally unconcerned.

"I couldn't sleep last night," one man said from within his foam bear head. "I tried for half-an-hour, then figured I'd better just be here."

Others claimed to have not slept for two days. Adrenaline raised their arms in the air in wild wave. A well-worn sign, "WE WANT THE CUP" scrawled across the top, had gotten some happy editing. Gone was the wanting, struck through with a fat black line; in its stead was simple satisfaction: "WE GOT THE CUP."

The man in the bear head gushed over the generosity of Andrew Ference. The defenseman had pulled his car as close to the mob as he could, if only to share the happiness beaming from his face. It was a small gesture that had huge significance.

"We had our own personal reasons for wanting to win the Cup," Ference said. "But we wanted to win it for the city, to finish off the quad; the other teams have done their job."

Bruins president Cam Neely also addressed his new membership into Title Town.

"It is our turn and it is sweet. It is so sweet," he said. "I know the passion that our fans have and I know how excited they are."

"Absolutely, baby!" the fans roared back.

Neely's statement to the fans was marvelous. He skated for Boston during a Cup-less decade in the '80s and '90s. Neely's Bruins won three division championships, two Eastern Conference crowns and one Presidents Trophy. He knew how badly their stomachs ached with hunger because he had felt it himself. When Neely spoke on Thursday, the diplomatic and professional walls were toppled and naked pride was revealed.

"Cam, I named my son after you, Boss," a faceless fan yelled. "I really did."

Neely raises his fist in reply, then stuck up his thumb.

"You guys waited a long time for this and the fans certainly deserve this," he said. "We got the best fans in the league. The support that you guys showed our players . . . it was a privilege to play in front of the fans. We're thrilled to bring this back to Boston and have this rolling rally Saturday morning, 11 o'clock. It's going to be quite an experience for everybody.

"I just want to thank our fan base for all the support for all these years. It's really hard to say how you feel right now, but it's incredible. All I can tell you is I'm very happy."

Neely's smile was effervescent. He scanned the crowd, soaked it in. Then he pumped his fist another time.

Ference was also at a loss. He said the reaction was delayed, that the discipline of executing a successful Stanley Cup title run didn't allow for instant emotional release.

"Part of the reason we were successful is because we blocked out our emotions very well, so it takes a while to sink in," Ference said. "I didn't want to believe it until there was about 10 seconds left on the clock and then I started crying. I just couldn't believe it. "

"When we actually got to hold the Cup . . . it's surreal. You block your emotions out for so long it's hard to come back to reality. It started to sink in. Once we passed it around on the plane and got it in the locker room and partied with our families, drank from it . . . "

Ference looked up to the news helicopters hovering vigilantly overhead like dragonflies on a lake at dusk.

He smiled. "It's sinking in."

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.