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Bruins enjoy spot among Boston's best

BOSTON -- There's a special fraternity among all professional sports teams and athletes in Boston.

It's simple: Boston truly has become Title Town over the past few years.

In the past seven years all four major sports teams have won a championship, including the most recent by the Boston Bruins. The Bruins took home the Stanley Cup in June to join the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics as recent champions.

On Saturday afternoon, all four trophies were on display at TD Garden for a special event. There was one of the Patriots' Lombardi Trophies. There was one of the Sox's World Series trophies. There was one of the Celtics' Larry O'Brien Trophies. All three were showcased on a table with an open spot in the middle.

Bruins team president and Boston icon Cam Neely carried the Stanley Cup down a red carpet and placed it next to the others.

"It tells you what has gone on here in Boston the last few years," Neely said. "To be able to have a city that has won all four trophies is pretty special, but I'm biased because the Stanley Cup is the prettiest of all.

"Any time the Stanley Cup is in the presence of our fans and you see the look on their faces it gives you a great feeling inside. There's no other trophy like it in sports and there's so much history on that trophy and it's not like the others where there's a new one every year and the fans understand that."

For one last time as Stanley Cup champions, the Bruins brought the Cup to the people, parading it out in Gillette Stadium on Sunday prior to the Patriots hosting the New York Jets. The players were all cheered at midfield before the game, with Zdeno Chara carrying to Cup out to the middle of the field before handing it off to a number of other Bruins in attendance. The players then made their way over to the Patriots sideline, where they were greeted by Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who shook hands with several of them as the Bruins pulled off their sweaters, revealing the Patriots jerseys they were wearing underneath.

"It's great and it's good to be a part of it," Bruins coach Claude Julien said before the team left to go to Gillette. "For the most part our guys are big fans of the Patriots and it's fun to go and support them and do something we're being recognized for, but at the same time there's no doubt in my mind that going there as a team with the Cup will certainly get the crowd into the game pretty quick."

Even before Julien was hired to coach the Bruins, he'd been a longtime fan of the Patriots and Red Sox. He finds it fitting that he is now a part of the historic sports lore in this city.

The past decade has produced a great era of sports in Boston and it's not going unnoticed by the Bruins players who have been a part of it.

"For sure and I try not to take it for granted," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. "It's awesome and we're very, very fortunate to be a part of it, that's for sure."

Thornton, who became a U.S. citizen during the offseason, has said he's now a true Bostonian and will still live here after his career is over. It's not uncommon to see the fan favorite at Fenway Park, hanging with good friend David Ortiz or playing golf with Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski during the summer.

Ortiz has a Bruins jersey hanging in his locker at Fenway and Gostkowski is a huge hockey fan who attends Bruins games when he can. And it's not just a select few. Many of the professional athletes in Boston attend other sporting events.

"We take pride in it being a Boston town and everybody really supports each other and it's a cool feeling," Thornton said. "It's cool to get to know some of the guys and see what the inner working of each team are and how much each person supports each other."

Even the manager and coaches of all four major sports contact each other in some way or another to wish each other good luck. In fact, a few times during the Stanley Cup playoffs Belichick was in attendance and was even shown on the video board, standing and waving a flag to get the fans going.

"We notice when other guys are here, definitely," Thornton said. "Some of those guys were at my Cup party, too. It's pretty cool that everybody supports each other. It's pretty special and I don't know if that happens in every city, to tell you the truth."

"It's special," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "By seeing all the other teams winning around town it made us want it even more and now being able to share it with them and talk to them about it has been a very cool experience. You can tell that everyone is cheering for one another and it means a lot to us just to see that."

The day following the Bruins' championship parade, the players boarded the duck boats again and took a spin around the warning track at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game. It was a beautiful June day and each member of the Bruins tossed out a ceremonial first pitch to a member of the Red Sox.

There's an unwritten rule in hockey that you don't touch or lift the Cup unless you've won it, but that didn't bother Ortiz and many of the Red Sox players inside the clubhouse prior to that game. They grabbed hockey's Holy Grail and hoisted it as if they were wearing a black and gold sweater drenched in beer and champagne.

Bergeron has attended many Red Sox games in the past and has even thrown out the first pitch solo one summer. This time was different because he was with his teammates and the Cup was in tow.

"The crowd was so loud," Bergeron said. "Usually you can't even walk on the grass and we're driving around in duck boats, so that was pretty cool. The Red Sox players were really nice and happy for us. It's awesome to see and we were just as happy when they won [in 2004 and 2007]."

Bergeron's never met Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and knew he wouldn't have the chance prior to Sunday's game at Gillette.

"I doubt it," Bergeron said with a laugh.

So after the Bruins concluded practice early Sunday afternoon at the Garden, they had a team meal, boarded a black and gold bus and headed south to Foxborough.

"This should be the last time you see our team going around with the Stanley Cup. That's my wish anyway, so I think this where we really turn the page," Julien said before the team headed down to Gillette.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.