Paoletti: A Rally of joy

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Paoletti: A Rally of joy

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com Staff ReporterFollow @mary_paoletti
BOSTON -- It was strange to see Causeway shut down.

Instead of cars, the street was lined with lawn chairs.

The sun shone without much warmth, but it was only 8:30 in the morning and felt like one of those June days that held the promise of heat. The Cup wouldn't emerge for another 2 12 hours.

In the meantime, they poured in from the subway, great waves of black and gold spilling out and spreading over the parade route. Those who couldn't walk were wheeled, "BELIEVE IN BOSTON" banners waving from the backs of their chairs. Some stood in triplets of generations, the well-worn Sanderson, Samsanov, Oates and Orr jerseys mixing in with those Recchi, Bergeron, Krejci and Seguin sweaters, tags still on. Somebody's mother wore a Milan Lucic "Ass Kicker" t-shirt.

It was estimated that over 1 million people would gather by the TD Garden that Saturday. The Bruins had won the Cup -- that much fans knew and celebrated-- but now they needed to see it.

Tinfoil and inflatable copycats were everywhere. As a four-foot silver masterpiece was carried by the Harp, a group of twenty-something guys whooped their approval. All five patrons raised nearly-empty Sam Adamses in salute, and one leaned out the large bar window.

"I want to kiss that Cup!" he crowed. "Bring it over here!"

Even the cops were calm. MBTA shuttles dropped Boston officers off by the busload to infiltrate the crowd, but the work day was casual considering the numbers. It was a mob scene only by volume, not intentions. Young troublemakers got their Poland Spring bottles of vodka confiscated and dumped into storm drains. Getting arrested would be pointless -- can't see the Cup from the back of a squad car. No, a winner's unity kept Boston on its best behavior Saturday.

And they were smug in that knowledge. More than a few signs poked a sharp elbow at the already-bruised Canucks fan base.

"Vancouver Riots. Boston rallies!" one sign read. "Visit Vancouver: I hear it's a riot!" read another.

The little jabs were irresistible, but the majority of that million couldn't care less about the Canucks. Rolling Rallies are about one thing: The start of a fresh obsession or the climax of a long-standing love.

As the clock ticked closer to the Cup, anticipation swelled and fell away. "LET'S GO BRUINS!" that most classic game chant, began in earnest at 11. Fans rose up on tiptoes, craning necks in the direction of the idling duck boats promised to carry their champions. The most important party possible wasn't starting on time, but today the fans were happily impatient.

They waited 39 years. What's 10 more minutes?

It was all worth it.

It started with a rumbling bass line. Those first familiar strains of "Shipping Up to Boston" followed like shots of adrenaline directly to the heart. Women and children were boosted up onto strong shoulders, cameras and cellphones were raised blindly overhead as that first boat rolled between the barriers.

The Stanley Cup was hoisted high in the arms of its guardian, their captain, Zdeno Chara.

Spectacular.

Someone sprayed champagne, cheap beer or both. Chara lofted the Cup again, then pretended to toss it to the fans. They jumped up, fingers stretched forward and chests tight. Beside him, Tim Thomas gripped his Conn Smyth. Neither stopped smiling for a full minute and probably couldn't have on a dare.

The Nature Boy's iconic "Woo!" kicked off "We are the Champions" on Cambridge Street. Bagpipers held off to let it play. Shawn Thornton held his right index finger in the air and twirled silver beads around the left.

"McQUAID! McQUAID! THE MULLET!"

He smiled and pulled off his hat. They will love him for years for that; Adam McQuaid can buzz his head for the rest of his career and they would remember the mullet.

Patrice Bergeron looked unflappable as ever. His joy was tightly radiant. One lift of his arms and a slow smile sent them swooning. On one stop, a small group of fans screaming silently from high on a rooftop caught Bergeron's eye. He pointed up to their perch with both hands.

You -- yes, you -- thank you for being here.

Behind Cup sightings, Nathan Horton got the loudest cheers. Every time his boat rolled around a different corner and Bruins fans caught his million-watt smile they were sent into a frenzy. Nathan Horton: happy-go-lucky hero turned shutdown symbol for The Good Fight. At Center 1 Plaza he grasped hold of his young sons' wrists and lifted the boys' arms in victory.

Three days after Game 7, Tuukka Rask still wore Horton's helmet. He may never have taken it off since the postgame locker room celebration.

All the while, black-and-gold confetti shot into the air. Fans lifted their faces as it floated gently down like a November flurry.

Those who imagined this day had no idea how brightly the Stanley Cup really shined. When the sun broke free and burned off the clouds, it was overwhelming. Some chased it down, following that lead float as far as they could, not wanting the day to end.

It had to.

Eventually, the lawn chairs gave way to discarded signs ("Never forget Savvy 91"), streamers and incoming street sweepers. The crowd walked back to where it all began, TD Garden, and the trains that brought them in. But this time, for the first in a long time, they walked away from hockey season satisfied.

A moment of immortality, one sunny Saturday in Boston. Nothing left to say.

"Now just do it again!"

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

Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

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Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

BRIGHTON, Mass. – He hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, but fourth line energy guy Noel Acciari is closing in on a return to the Bruins lineup. 

Acciari joined in for a Bruins morning skate for the first time in 14 games at the end of last week, and practiced with the team again Monday for a morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The 25-year-old has missed almost exactly a month with a lower body injury, and said he can thankfully now see the light at the end of the injury tunnel for a healthy return to the B’s lineup. 

“It was getting lonely with all the guys on the road, and with me just skating with Frankie [Vatrano] and Zee [Chara],” said Acciari. “It’s great to be back out there with the guys, and it’s good to be back. Each skate I feel a lot better out there and just trying to get my conditioning back. Just being back with the guys is a great feeling, and it’s a big help.”

The fourth line has been okay in Acciari’s absence, but it seemed to be lacking the same kind of energy and hard edge the Providence College standout provided when he was healthy. That was part of what led the B’s to call up the similarly rugged Anton Blidh from Providence at the end of last week, and could provide some interesting energy line options when Acciari is ready to return. 

“I’ve played with [Blidh] before, I’m used to him and I know what he brings to the table just like he knows what I can do,” said Acciari. “So it would work out well [if we played together] I think.”

Acciari has two assists and a plus-1 rating along with four penalty minutes while averaging 10:01 of ice time in 12 games this season, and proved to be very good at unnerving opponents simply by playing all-out all the time. 

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Monday, Dec. 5: Craig Cunningham's recovery

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.

*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.

*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?

*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.

*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.

*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.

*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.

*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.