June 15, 2011. A day that lives on in Bruins lore.
Only five members from that Stanley Cup squad remain in 2019: Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. Steven Kampfer also served as one of the extra defensemen during the historic run that saw the Bruins become the first team to win three Game 7’s in a single playoff.
The other members came and went since hoisting Boston’s first Cup in 39 years out in Vancouver. But the team remains in Bruins fans hearts forever.
A handful of members from that famed 2011 roster returned to TD Garden Monday night, serving as fan banner captains before the current core of Bruins took the ice with the St. Louis Blues. Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Rich Peverley, Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg brought the house down as they assisted Special Olympian Liam O’Brien with the pregame festivities, bringing the sold-out crowd of 17,565 on their feet before puck drop.
“It’s always fun to see those guys,” Marchand said about reuniting with his ex-teammates in attendance. “There’s a connection with a lot of memories that we had that we’re able to look back on and a lot of great friendships. So it was good to see them.”
The 2011 squad set the barometer for Boston’s decade of success. A return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and now in 2019 made the city a hotbed for pucks again.
Several things changed since. Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien behind the bench in 2017. Don Sweeney succeeded Peter Chiarelli as GM two years prior. The Bruins left their old frigid practice digs at Ristuccia Arena and moved into the state of the art Warrior Ice Arena in the fall of 2016. And the likes of Ryder, Peverley, Paille, Kelly, Thornton, Campbell and Seidenberg paved way for a youth movement that sped up Boston’s Cup window.
They’re a different team now. But some similarities remain eight years later. Most notably: a re-tooled fourth line of Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and either Chris Wagner or Noel Acciari.
“If you go back to 2011, that line was huge for us the whole year, and even in the playoffs,” Bergeron said regarding the comparison of this year’s fourth line trio with Paille, Campbell and Thornton (aka the ‘Merlot line’)
“They came in and scored some huge goals for us and gave us some momentum that we needed at times during games, and I think it’s a fair comparison when you look at Sean and his line and what they’ve been able to do night in and night out and step it up, you know, in big moments. They’ve been doing it since the start of the year, and they keep on showing up for us.”
Paille, Campbell, Thornton and the rest of their ex-teammates saw the Kuraly line’s triumphant performance against the Blues first hand in Game 1. The former Bruins made their way to the locker room for a postgame meet and greet with their old teammates still with the squad eight years later.
“It was good to see them after the game, which is nice,” Marchand said. “It’s not often that you get that many guys from the team together after this long. So, it was great to catch up and to see them. And the win kind of allowed us to do that. If we would’ve lost then we might not have been able to have that moment.”
The reunion wasn’t lost with some of the younger Bruins, like Jake DeBrusk.
“For sure. It’s something that you strive for and obviously we’re in the mix right now,” DeBrusk said. “But anytime you can see guys, you know, the relationships that they have to this day is a brotherhood, and that’s what happens when you win, and it kind of gives you a little more motivation.”
The Bruins showcased their motivation coming back from a two-goal deficit Monday night. Now they’re three wins away from hoisting their own Cup — and joining this special group of former Bruins — to close out the decade.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
Bruins Daily is a NHL credentialed media organization that is dedicated to being the leading provider of Boston Bruins news, analysis, and commentary, by focusing exclusively on the Boston organization. Bruins Daily provides written content, studio produced video, and on location video, all with a unique voice that fans can relate to. Complete coverage is provided through all of the latest NHL/AHL news, updates, scores, injuries, transactions and fan events.