BOSTON -- The 2012-2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks raised their banner to the rafters at United Center on Tuesday night in a pregame ceremony that featured all the pomp and circumstance that comes with winning a title.
The Blackhawks hoisted the Cup in victory on TD Garden ice late last June, as the Boston Bruins watched after a stunning loss in Game 6 of the finals. The Bruins had a 2-1 lead late in the third period in Game 6, but Chicago scored a pair of goals in a 17-second span and finished with a 3-2 win.
The Bruins open their season against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at the Garden. The team held its annual media day on Wednesday, and many of the Bruins admitted they did not watch Chicago’s banner-raising ceremony.
“I did not watch it,” said Bruins president Cam Neely. “I would prefer to watch our own. You have a hard time watching someone else lift the Cup and raise a banner, so I didn’t watch it. Hopefully we’ll be watching one in the near future here.”
During a morning press conference with team owner Jeremy Jacobs, Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien, team principal Charlie Jacobs admitted he did watch the Blackhawks’ ceremony.
Neely quickly looked to his right and said: “Really? Wow.”
Jacobs added that he didn’t watch for long.
“I got a little uneasy and changed the channel,” he said. “I wanted to see a little bit of what they did, in terms of the pageantry. I watched enough of it and then turned on 'Behind the B.' "
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said he watched the beginning of the ceremony but quickly changed to baseball.
“I definitely had the thoughts of how close we came, and the thoughts of three years ago came back,” Seidenberg said. “We didn’t win, but now we’re that much hungrier to do it this year and hopefully we’ll find a way.”
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said that watching the Blackhawks' ceremony wasn’t even a thought.
“No,” he quickly said. “I wasn’t even thinking about that.”
Neely said he believes this team can compete for another Cup title.
“There are a lot of great teams in this league and we feel we are one of the elite teams, but a lot of things have to go your way,” Neely said.
When the puck drops Thursday night, it will begin the franchise's 90th season. There are deep hockey roots in Boston, and since the Bruins have become perennial winners under , fans young and old have created a buzz around this team again.
On the ice, it all comes down to the players.
Chiarelli made some major changes during the offseason, trading young forward Tyler Seguin, along with veteran forward Rich Peverley, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for forward Loui Eriksson and three prospects -- Reilly Smith, Joe Morrow and Matt Fraser.
The other major deal during the summer was the addition of future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. After learning that free-agent forward Nathan Horton did not want to re-sign with the Bruins and opted for a seven-year, $37 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston’s GM received a phone call from Iginla’s agent. Quickly putting aside last season’s trade deadline snafu when Iginla chose the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Bruins, Boston signed him to a one-year, incentive-laden deal. He will start the season on the top line along with center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic.
With the depth in the organization, the additions to the roster, the experience and youth, the Bruins have created a winning blueprint.
“We’re still a great team with a lot of potential,” Bergeron said. “It’s a long season and we have to make sure we do the right thing. It’s so cliché, but we have to start at the bottom of the mountain and climb our way back up. That’s the way we have to look at it and don’t look too far ahead. We have a great team and we have to do the job on the ice.”
There will be some adjustments as this team begins the 2013-2014 season, but there’s a winning expectation in place and the Bruins have a chance to be a better team than last season.
“I think it does,” Lucic said. “The returning guys are a year older and come back with a lot more experience, and the guys coming in are definitely excited to be a part of what we’ve built here as a team and as an organization. There’s definitely that potential there but it’s up to us whether or not we can have that success.”
The Bruins finished the preseason schedule with a 6-1 record, which normally doesn’t mean too much. This fall, however, those seven games meant a lot to the Bruins, as it was a chance for the new players to get acclimated in this new environment, and for upper management to have a better understanding of the organization’s depth.
“We’re in a good place right now,” Julien said. “I liked what I saw in the last few days. At practice [Wednesday], guys were sharp, they were excited. We’re ready to go here, and even though we have some new faces, what I saw in the preseason I really liked. Those guys have adjusted well quickly, and if anything they’re only going to get better. I’m pretty happy with where we are right now, knowing they’ll only get better.”
Following the Bruins’ first-round exit in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Jeremy Jacobs announced to the rest of the league that whichever team won, the Cup was only on loan.
On the eve of the 2013-2014 season, Jacobs had a similar message.
“We’re not going to play for second place,” the owner said. “We’re here to win. The organization is in a good place to do that. We have the right combination and we’re an extremely strong team. We should compete. We should be a winner.”