The Bruins had a Hall-of-Famer at the blue line in the person of Ray Bourque, the best defenseman since Bobby Orr. Up front they had another Hall member: Cam Neely, the man who invented the position of power forward in the NHL. Adam Oates came on board and scored 142 points in his first full season. Glen Wesley was a top-flight defenseman who nonetheless scored 19 goals in 88-89. They had an above-average second tier of players too: Ken "the rat" Linseman, Randy "stump" Burridge. But conventional wisdom of the day was that the GM of the team, one Harry Sinden, was too much of a cheapskate to provide that one extra player who could put the team over the top.
So that's who I'm thinking about today: Neely. Bourque. Oates. Craig Janney. Bob "Swoop" Sweeney, whose ass I kicked at poker one day (straight chaser). Don Sweeney. Dave Christian. Ken Hodge (the younger). Men who were proud to wear the spoked B and who came really close, but just couldn't quite put it together.
Some other things I'm thinking about at 4:30 in the morning, a night where I'm sure sleep won't be coming along any time soon:
- It only took five years removed from Harry Sinden's poisonous touch for the B's to win it all.
- I'm giving serious thought to going to the parade.
- The talking heads were reminiscing about the Old Boston Garden, about the rats and the filth. One personal memory I'll share: I was in line for a hot dog and a cockroach as fat and as long as my thumb skittered across the menu board. The line hooted and several people remarked that they wanted the roach as it was likely the freshest thing they had. Very funny stuff.
- OK, one more I'll share: to get around the Garden at the sort of middle layer of seats, what was then called the "Stadium" level, there was this kind of tunnel that was perhaps eight feet wide. Despite the non-smoking policy, this was where you went to smoke. One night I was walking there when my shirt caught on an exposed nail, sticking out perhaps three inches from the wall, and put a foot-long rip in the back of my shirt. I remember thinking "and the Garden claims another victim."
Anyway, there you go. Until next time, please remember the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Champions.