Former Bruins players assist waving the team banner before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden in Boston on Monday night. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

The Golden Age of Boston Sports is the stuff of folklore. Years from now we will look back on this incredible run and shake our heads in wonder. As we all know, there have been 12 championships in the last 17 years – but those numbers are heavily weighted toward the Patriots (six championships) and Red Sox (four).

Now, the Bruins can add to the total. The Stanley Cup finals finally began Monday night at TD Garden, marking the Bruins’ third trip to the final in nine years. They are possibly the most improved of Boston’s sports franchises over the past two decades.

Boston fans have been waiting 10 days for the playoffs to resume. When they did, the party stretched from one end of the city to the other. There was a sellout crowd at TD Garden, and across town there were thousands more gathered at a concert and viewing party at City Hall Plaza.

The placement of that party was a stark reminder of how far things have come. In 2001, while fans of Boston sports were still in a 15-year championship drought, thousands gathered to celebrate the Stanley Cup. Ray Bourque, one of the greatest players in Bruins history, hoisted it high to thunderous applause.

Problem was, he won it with the Colorado Avalanche.

That’s how starved for a title Boston’s hockey fans were in the early days of the millennium. They gathered to cheer for a local hero who had been traded away so that he might be able to win one.


Ten years later the Cup was back in Boston. This time more than a million fans gathered to watch the duck boats roll through the streets. As much as we love Ray Bourque, we really love it when our team wins a Cup.

Last week, a sellout crowd filled the Garden to watch the Bruins play in a scrimmage! It was a glorified practice meant to keep the Bruins sharp through their 10-day layoff. It also raised money for the Boston Bruins Foundation.

In 2002 the Bruins weren’t even selling out games. I covered the team’s 4-1 loss to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (yes, they were still named after the Disney movie) on Halloween of 2002. There were only 9,491 fans on hand for the game that night, the smallest in the history of the arena.

The Bruins are an Original Six team, but under the management of Charlie Jacobs, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney they have become a New Age, cutting-edge franchise that boldly tries new ideas.

The Warrior Ice Arena, which opened in 2016, is a practice facility in Boston with film rooms, state-of-the-art training facilities and a kitchen staffed by chefs that help the team maximize nutrition.

It is a shining example of why the Bruins have become a model franchise in the NHL. Rather than being satisfied with one title in 2011, team ownership has invested in improved facilities, a commitment to analytics, and an increase in scouting that helped build the current roster.


“Our staff deserves a lot of credit for recognizing and scouting and just working hard,” Sweeney told reporters last week. “It comes down to the investment at a player level, a coaching level, an organizational level and ownership support. It’s really the whole piece of it.”

For many years, Boston fans thought back to the glory days of the Big, Bad, Bruins. Now, fans have come in droves to cheer for a new era of Boston Bruins hockey.

Best of all, the Bruins’ roster is still loaded with young talent. There’s no reason to think they won’t continue to be one of the best teams in the East.

So sit back and enjoy this next chapter in the Golden Era. An era that appears far from being over.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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