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  • Bruins embrace the center of attention role in ‘Titletown’

    Tim Rosenthal May 27, 2019
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    It seemed like a pipe dream: all four of Boston’s professional sports teams winning their respective championship in a less than 12-month span.

    That dream didn’t become a reality following the Celtics second-round loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. But the Bruins, following in the footsteps of the Red Sox and Patriots, still have a chance to make history for the City of Boston.

    You have to go all the way back to 1930 for the last time a city saw three professional sports titles. Detroit got that illustrious distinction of ‘The City of Champions’ when the MLB’s Tigers, NHL’s Red Wings and NFL’s Lions all took home hardware at season’s end.

    The Bruins are now in the center of attention, looking to do something that no other city accomplished in nearly nine decades.

    “You can imagine it feels pretty good. This is a tough city, you got to keep up with the Joneses in this city and you realize that the expectations, the pressure as a player, you certainly welcome that,” GM Don Sweeney said during Stanley Cup Media Day.

    “As a manager sometimes it’s challenging. You’re trying to balance things and you just want to win, but the needle moves a little slower at times. But then you get real good players that are invested, you get a good coach [Bruce Cassidy] that’s invested with his staff, and you cross your fingers that you have pieces and that they come together and we’re fortunate. And obviously the city itself, they love winning teams and they will support you if you play a certain way and I think our team has done that.”

    Sweeney knows the pressure that comes with the territory of being a general manager in Boston. He also witnessed the city’s passion for their four professional sports franchises during his playing-tenure that began at the old Boston Garden back in the 1988-89 season.

    Things have changed since Sweeney’s days donning the black and gold with the likes of Team President Cam Neely and captain Ray Bourque. The FleetCenter — now known as TD Garden — replaced the historic Boston Garden eight years into his on-ice tenure. And the renovations to the new Causeway St. barn — roughly a quarter century after opening its doors — are near complete.

    The Bruins also have a new practice facility, leaving their old arctic digs at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington to the state of the art Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.

    But every new amenity comes with the pressure to perform. Hot takes from sports radio personalities like Michael Felger and Tony Massaroti replaced the traditional water cooler office talk about the Black and Gold. And every noteworthy event gets dissected by armchair quarterbacks into bite-size pieces on social media.

    Yet, through the good and the bad, the Bruins have one passionate fanbase — and the Pats, Red Sox and Celtics — behind them. The 17,565 inside TD Garden and all of New England, including Tom Brady, will root them on following their 11-day layover.

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    Still here……. #MADEFORTHIS

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    “It’s feeling good. I’m just excited to get going,” Charlestown native Matt Grzelcyk said. “Obviously it’s been a long week of not playing hockey and just watching a lot of, you know, film, and I think just as players we just want to get this thing going already. And like you said, it’s pretty cool to see the other teams have success obviously and you just want to add to that.”

    The Red Sox kicked off the 2018-19 calendar year with their World Series win over the Dodgers. The Patriots continued the Los Angeles beatdown with their sixth Super Bowl win over the Rams just five months later.

    There’s no L.A. team for the Bruins to go through. Instead, they’ll have their Stanley Cup rematch with the St. Louis Blues 49 years after Bobby Orr’s iconic overtime winner.

    It’s only fitting for the Bruins to get past a St. Louis based team given the history of championship showdowns between the two cities.

    “We’re next,” Cassidy joked following the Pats’ Super Bowl LIII win.

    No laughing matter now. The Bruins — and Boston — are within striking distance of history.

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