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I Shook the Hand of the Greatest Hockey Player Ever & Headed For The Bar

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This past Thursday was an interesting day for me here in Boston for a number of reasons.  I spent, literally, the entire day in the TD Garden.  I showed up at 10:00am and didn’t leave until around 1:30am.  Not only were the Bruins going up against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since the Matt Cooke / Marc Savard incident, but the organization was also honoring the 40th Anniversary of the 1970 Bruins Stanley Cup victory that night.

I’ll skip over all the morning and afternoon details, except for the fact that I happened to be walking past the Penguins as they were getting off their team bus and I made sure to stop and give an unflinching stare directly into Matt Cooke’s eyes as he walked by.  Did it affect him one bit?  I highly doubt it, but I sure as hell felt good about myself.

The opening ceremony for the 1970 team was great, especially how they kept it fairly short and to the point.  Unfortunately a lot of other teams in the league haven’t mastered that and will drag things like this out for upwards of 2 hours while the players are fully suited up, ready to go, and the fans become a mix of bored and angry.

Well this particular Garden crowd, and the city of Boston in general, was already pretty angry coming into the game and it only took Shawn Thornton 1:58 into the first period to turn the volume up to 11.  Cooke hit the ice for the first time, the capacity 17,565 let out a roaring “BOOO!” and Shawn’s head snapped in the direction of the Pittsburgh bench.  Thornton made a bee-line at Cooke and started barking at him to drop his gloves.  When he finally obliged, Shawn then instructed him to remove his helmet (which has a visor on it), to which he declined… as Don Cherry said on tonight’s (3/20/10) Coach’s Corner, “That’s the sign of a coward.”

The fight was by far the high point of the game.  From there on the Penguins offense simply out played the Bruins, putting 31 shots on Tuukka Rask as opposed to the Bruins extremely struggling offense only put 17 on Marc-Andre Fleury (none of them getting by him giving the Penguins their 1st shutout this season).

There really isn’t much more I can say regarding the game except that I was standing next to Bobby Orr in the Legends Club for the final ten minutes of it and there wasn’t much either one of us seemed to want to say when it ended.  I let out a sigh, shook the hand of the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of skates, and made my way to the nearest bar.

The rest of the night was definitely much more upbeat as we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the 1970 Bruins Stanley Cup and the team of men that brought that Cup to Boston.  I’m not going to get into all the details of what went down during the party, mostly because the night was a series of brief but interesting and memorable conversations had between me and some of the players.  All I will say is as long as I’ve been following this team I’ve never been in the same room as the Stanley Cup, until Thursday night, and the goose bumps are still not fully gone.  Any real hockey fans out there will know exactly what I mean.

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