BOSTON -- Shawn Thornton had made his way through a gauntlet of television cameras, microphones and tape recorders in the front lobby at Loews Cinema in Boston Common, and finally was on his way to the theater where the Bruins and a VIP audience were to view an advance screening of the team's Stanley Cup championship DVD.
Of course, the clamoring for the popular, pugilistic fourth-liner never stops these days, as a handful of autograph hounds called out to him.
"I did four signings last week, where were you guys?" he hollered.
"I work full-time, I'm sorry," replied a fan.
Suddenly, Thornton halted his stride and turned to the fan with a glare, like he was an adolescent son who'd just said something goofy.
"You work at 6 o'clock on Saturday?" Thornton asked rhetorically, with his trademark dash of sarcasm.
Such is the life of a Boston Bruin these days. Two weeks ago, Bruins physical therapist Scott Waugh brings the Stanley Cup to a golf course in Tewksbury and nearly 3,000 people show up. On Monday night, a red carpet gets rolled out, Andrew Ference rolls in with the Cup, raises it for TV cameras, and a mob of several hundred battles for elbow room with their point-and-clicks.
Just when you think these guys have had enough, it keeps going. And the ride's far from done.
"You think about how many people we have in our building every night, and then you think about how many people are watching every night on NESN or Versus or NBC during the playoffs, in this local market, and you realize how many Bruins fans there are," team president Cam Neely said. "There's thousands of thousands of Bruins fans, and the other thing, too, is the fact it's been 39 years.
"Somebody says, 'OK, here's an opportunity for me to be in the presence of the Stanley Cup or get pictures with the Stanley Cup', they want to make the effort to get there because we all know it's not that easy to achieve. Hopefully, we won't wait 39 years again, but I think that has something to do with it, too."
Neely admitted that when he finally got the Cup "for a few hours" last week, "it was really the first time it sunk in."
"It's so surreal at times, where it's something that you know, as a professional hockey player and now in management, you think about winning the Stanley Cup," he said. "And when it finally happens, it's hard to believe it happened."
Meanwhile for 22-year-old winger Brad Marchand -- for now, a larger-than-life persona locally -- the past month has "been wild," with trips near and far (some infamous, some incognito). Before entering the theater, he joked to reporters, "I missed you guys, had to see you again."
"Everywhere we go, whenever the Cup's around, the place is packed," said Marchand, whose day with the cup is Aug. 29. "It shows the support of everyone, and how special and how much it means to everyone. It's just pretty special."
Asked what part of the video he most looked forward to seeing, Neely was deferential, instead talking up the feeling of not being on pins and needles watching the team during elimination games.
Marchand said he eagerly awaited watching the final seconds of the Game 7 win over the Vancouver Canucks tick off.
"Clock's counting down, and everyone's celebrating, everyone's coming off the bench," he said. "It's always a fun moment to see."
Brendan Hall is a reporter for ESPNBoston.com.