BOSTON, MA - When Andrew Ference was traded to the Boston Bruins from the Calgary Flames on February 10, 2007, the team in the spoked-B had a much different make-up than its 2013 form.
"I don’t know a whole lot about style of play. But who doesn’t know about the history and the great pride of the fans?" Ference had said, upon joining the storied franchise in 2007. "It definitely softens the blow by coming to a city so rich in sports history. This is a team that is scratching and clawing its way back up to have some respect in this city."
The team had not made the playoffs since 2004.
In the 2007-08 offseason, Claude Julien was hired as Head Coach by General Manager Peter Chiarelli. The Bruins would then start their rebuilding journey by making the playoffs in 2008, and never looking back, enduring three straight Game 7 elimination losses before climbing all the way to the top in 2011. They had a new identity, and a new place in the city.
He knew he could it, his team knew he could it, the management knew he could do it.
But he still had something to prove.
"I’m just trying to be my best out there, and see where it leads," the netminder had said.
A shortened season and lengthy postseason later, Rask has solidified his status as the Bruins' lead goaltender, the 'backbone' of the team, as often called by his teammates, who are in constant awe of his composure and emotion between the pipes.
With the one-year contract, Rask is set to become a restricted free agent come July 5, with the NHL's free agency period begins. But if the goaltender and his general manager, Peter Chiarelli, had their way, it wouldn't get to that.
BostonBruins.com - For the Bruins, coaches, management and staff on Wednesday, during the team's 'break-up day,' it was still difficult for it to sink in that their run to a second Stanley Cup in three years had ended so abruptly.
Some B's were beginning to accept it, others still couldn't believe it yet - but altogether, one thing they could all reflect on was the close-knit nature of this group, and how they enjoyed being able to share this experience with one another, battle for one another, and ultimately, bring their group closer together.
Soon, though, news would spread around that a member of their team for the past seven seasons, Andrew Ference, would be unable to re-sign for next season, given the new salary cap restrictions for 2013-14.
Currently, the Bruins sit just about $5 million under next year's cap hit of $64,300,000.
BOSTON, MA - On Wednesday, the Bruins all gathered at TD Garden for their exit interviews, physicals and final media availability of the season, before soon going their separate ways for the offseason.
The infamously labeled "break-up day" is a chance for players, General Manager Peter Chiarelli and Head Coach Claude Julien to reflect on the season to gathered reporters. It often marks the final time that particular group - in this case, the 2012-13 Bruins - is together.
This year, it was tougher to take.
"It’s definitely a lot better than losing in the first round, but it’s still disappointing," Brad Marchand told media, assessing this ending, compared to last year's, both much different than the day in 2011.
"Whether you lose in the first round or the Finals - you didn’t win. So it’s definitely different in ways where we made it here and had the opportunity, but, still didn’t win."
BOSTON, MA - Just when you thought Patrice Bergeron couldn't show any more determination than he already has, he somehow manages to amaze even further with his endless will and immense character.
We found out following the Bruins' do-or-die Game Six that the alternate captain played with what turned out to be a broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder. That was heroic enough.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that Bergeron has been under observation at a local hospital in Boston since the conclusion of the game. General Manager Peter Chiarelli said during the team's "break-up day" that in addition to those injuries, the center also has a small puncture in his lung, but that he is fine.
"Among other things, he had the rib cartilage that was damaged. He had a separated shoulder. In the course of getting a nerve block, he had a small hole in his lung," said the GM. "I’m not sure when that happened, so he played through all of this, and he was a warrior. I can’t say enough about his performance and what he did while being injured."
BostonBruins.com - The Boston faithful woke up Tuesday morning still in disbelief.
How did it slip away? The last shot at the 2013 Stanley Cup was in reach. One minute and 30 seconds. That's how little time was left, as the Bruins led 2-1, about to force a Game 7.
Seventeen seconds was ultimately all it took for Chicago to steal the Cup from Boston. It was the blink of an eye, a flash, a dream. There's not much to accurately compare it to. Many will want to forget those 17 seconds, and let's just leave it at that.
Just utter disbelief.
But you see, the thing about disbelief is, to have it, you had to believe in the first place.
And over the course of two months that spanned into late June, when the summer heat started seeping into Boston, that's exactly what the Bruins did - they made Boston believe.
BOSTON, MA - The scoreboard read 2-1 Bruins, with a minute and 30 seconds to go until a trip to Chicago for Game 7 was on tap for a shot at the Stanley Cup.
How quickly emotions can change.
Fourteen seconds later, the Blackhawks found a way past Tuukka Rask. Seventeen seconds after that, a shock wave hit the rafters of TD Garden, and reverberated throughout the entire arena, when Chicago took the 3-2 lead.
Bruins' defenseman Andrew Ference, a veteran who had already been on both ends of a Stanley Cup Final - an exuberant Game 7 win over Vancouver in 2011 to claim Boston's first Cup in 39 years; a devastating Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay when he was with Calgary in 2004.
He has always said the loss stays with you longer. 2011's win helped ease the pain, but 2013's defeat won't leave him and the Bruins anytime soon.
BostonBruins.com - Throughout the Stanley Cup Final, Bruins' defenseman Adam McQuaid shared his journey through a player blog on NHL.com.
From the roller coaster of the season, to his time growing up in PEI, to his father's influence, to the experience of having rookie Dougie Hamilton living with him this year, McQuaid let fans into many aspects of his life, both on and off the ice.
Following the Bruins' heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, McQuaid's final blog entry talks about the difficulty of taking in the defeat that saw Chicago hoist the Cup on their home ice, after scoring two quick strikes within 17-seconds in the final 1:16 of regulation to secure the victory.
He also addresses the inspiration that Patrice Bergeron provided the team, battling through his injuries, with his team on the brink of elimination.
BOSTON, MA - In the Stanley Cup Final, hockey players play hurt. It's a fact. A handful of the athletes - maybe - are feeling 100 percent, and they're usually the healthy scratches sitting up top.
So when Patrice Bergeron suffered a broken rib and torn cartilage in Game 5, and a separated shoulder in Game 6, trying to push his Bruins to the brink and force a seventh back in Chicago, he battled through it.
But for No. 37 and the Black & Gold, the battled ended late Monday night, in a heartbreaking finish. As the clock ticked down, with the B's leading 2-1 in the final 1:30 of regulation, Game 7 was in their sights.
Just over 30 seconds later, it was taken away from them in a flash. A final push from the Hawks and some help from the hockey gods, and Chicago had two goals within 17 seconds. They won 3-2 to claim their franchise's fifth Stanley Cup. The Garden crowd was stunned; Bergeron and the Bruins were stung.
BOSTON, MA - For the Bruins, it has come down to one game. And winning is the only option.
Anytime a team's season in on the line, you can take a look back at their journey to get to this moment. The ups and downs, wins and losses, everything it took to get them to this point.
With a must-win Game Six on tap tonight at TD Garden against the Blackhawks, the Bruins now sit one win away from their final shot at the Stanley Cup, and one loss away from the ultimate disappoint. But, there is not one ounce of focus on the latter for Boston.
A popular phrase for the desperate team facing elimination in the playoffs is that they have "nothing to lose."
But defenseman Torey Krug wasn't buying it this morning, as he spoke to media following the team's pregame skate.