BOSTON — The Big and the Bad, the lunch pail guys, Bourque’s bunch.
Bruins from nearly every era of the team’s 100-year history reunited at the TD Garden Wednesday night as part of the team’s opening night centennial celebration.
Before the present-day Bruins faced off against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins of yesteryear got to walk the “Gold Carpet”, mingling with fans and media over two hours before puckdrop.
“It’s unbelievable. For a 7:30 game, to have this many fans here already is awesome,” Bruins President Cam Neely said, gesturing to the sea of black and gold behind him. “Obviously the centennial is a big deal and our fans are certainly appreciating it.”
As they did in their careers, 2011 Cup champs like David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Shawn Thornton followed in the footsteps of hockey legends like Johnny Bucyk and Terry O’Reilly.
“The legends in this city have always been so kind to us. We’re very lucky we have a tight-knit community,” fan favorite enforcer and current Florida Panthers executive Shawn Thornton said.
“100 years in the making. To be able to play here and see all the legends come back is amazing,” said Mass. native and 1982 Bruins draftee Bob Sweeney.
An 18-time All-Star with the Black and Gold, Ray Bourque has gone a long time without needing to pay for his own drink in Boston.
“When you get here as an 18-year-old rookie, you know it’s a special place. But after playing for 21 years and living when we lived... crazy,” said Bourque.
88-year-old Johnny Bucyk, a two-time Cup winner and a member of the NHL’s 100-year-anniversary team, was showered with cheers of “Chief” like he was about to lace up the skates with the rest of Lunch Pail A.C.
“It was great. To see all the guys I played with and had a lot of fun, won a couple of championships, I enjoyed it,” said Bucyk.
The ceremonious day even pulled Tim Thomas into the mix. The 2011 Stanley Cup-winning goaltender has been frugal with his public appearances since retiring from the NHL in 2014.
“It’s an honor to be honored.” quipped Thomas. “I don’t live this life anymore! It’s like flashing back to the old days!”
The Bruins are only the third NHL team to reach the century mark, joining the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will be on the ice for the pregame festivities, the absence of the recent retirees looms large over the Bruins as they begin their 100th campaign against 2023 #1 overall draft pick Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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