Today is the first day of summer. After a long, hard winter and an unusually wet spring we finally get to breathe a sigh of relief and think about the lazy, hazy, crazy days ahead.

For the 2011 Bruins, it will be a very short summer. After a two-month run to the Stanley Cup, the Bruins spent this past weekend staging a party that will stack up with the craziest days the Cup has ever experienced.

Since the regular season ended in April, the Bruins have become New England’s favorite team.

They did it by overcoming odds and conquering demons. They did it by beating a Vancouver team that was, according to most experts, the more talented team.

Maybe those experts were right. But the seven incredibly compelling games of the Stanley Cup Final were a reminder that effort and will can overcome skill. The Bruins were the better team, and their championship win last Wednesday set off a celebration that is just winding down.

There was a parade through the streets of Boston, the city buried under a flurry of black-and-gold confetti as fans formed human snow banks along the streets.

The city embraced this blue-collar team as its own, and the Bruins responded by taking their prize to the streets.

Captain Zdeno Chara, a stoic giant who has never been called warm and fuzzy, was suddenly everywhere, hoisting the Cup.

He walked the streets of the North End. He took it for a walk in a baby stroller. He showed up for the parade on his bike, winding his way through thousands of fans.

No stretch limo arrivals for these guys.

On Friday night, the Bruins brought the Cup to the Gypsy Bar in Boston.

On Saturday, after the confetti had been swept up, they took a bus down to Foxwoods.

On Sunday, they were back on the Duck Boats for one last victory lap at Fenway Park where they threw out the first pitch and hoisted the trophy as a group one last time.

Monday, the boys headed for home, getting some much-needed rest and scheduling their long-awaited day with the Cup. Each player hosts the trophy for 24 hours, and will make the most of that time with hockey’s Holy Grail.

They certainly made the most of their final weekend together as a team. It was reminiscent of the Big, Bad Bruins teams of 40 years ago, who partied together and drank beer in public and made the city swoon.

This team doesn’t have a Bobby Orr, a larger-than-life superstar.

None of the Bruins skaters would be called the best player in the game (although Tim Thomas will win his second Vezina Trophy later this week and is undoubtedly the best Bruins goaltender since Gerry Cheevers).

No, this team is just that — a team. Together they imposed their will on an individually skilled group of Canucks who weren’t able to summon up the same intensity and courage as their opponents in the final game of the season.

Together they cast aside questions about their ability to win Game 7’s, becoming the first Stanley Cup champion to ever win three of them in the same playoff run.

Together they showed that buying into a coach’s system can be one of the most important routes to success in hockey.

And, together, they made Boston a hockey town again. For those of us who bleed black and gold, it was worth the wait.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.