It took almost 45 years but I got to cover the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the third time. There was almost 40 years in between the 2nd and 3rd championships; the first two happened when I was an avid fan and season ticket holder. I saw every game Bobby Orr played at Boston Garden and even drove down to watch the Bruins and the Rangers play in New York back in the days when hockey was very important to me.
The morning after the win was fun, got called into work early to go to Logan Airport for the team’s return from Vancouver and thought I might get to see them getting off the plane for their bus ride back to the Garden. Not to be, everything was secretive and the news crews were not sure which gate the bus would come off the tarmac through and they fooled us all as they went out an opening none of us realized would be used. Beat before I could even get into 2nd gear.
From Logan I went to Causeway Street and thinking the way I did 40 years ago I forgot the bus would pull into the front parking lot and we could see them getting into their cars and maybe even get to talk with them. I had thought they would drive into the Garden like they used to, inside via the long ramp in the back of the building and flee the news hounds. I guess sometimes I do live in the past. Had I known the great access we were going to have I would have gone a little faster and skipped the pit stop I made before I got there. When I did get there and realized what was going on I ran through the traffic to be where the action was.
The first player I spotted was Zdeno Chara, the big football player size defenseman, who was in the back seat of a limo but the guest with him was what made me take notice. He had the Stanley Cup sitting next to him and was the first of the players to take it home. He is the Captain so I guess he might decide who is first or maybe it is an automatic. After I tapped on his car window several times to see if he would open it for me I realized it just was not going to happen so I moved on to the bigger group which was slowly becoming smaller and smaller and only a few of the players were still there. I did stick my mic in one of the car windows but I don’t even know who it was being interviewed.
From there the day got better. Mike Dowling, a WCVB sports reporter, caught up with me and we went looking for the Bruins players who lived in the North End with no clue where that might be. This venture only lasted a few minutes as we got word we were going to interview Kevin and Lynn Marchand the parents of Brad, the Bruins star rookie who had three points in the 7th and deciding game and may have been one of the finalists for MVP.
Talk about a class act. They walked down to the Garden from Brad’s apartment and talked to us for quite awhile giving some insight into their wonderful adventure chasing the Stanley Cup with their son Brad. What fun. His father had gone to 20 playoff games and his mother only 16. They told us she was banned from the games after she attended two losing games. When they lost a game she wasn’t at she was then allowed to continue the run. Mike Dowling told me another parent of one of the players also suffered the same fate after she was at a couple of losing games. Superstition is superstition and being a lottery player I know what that word means.
Mrs. Marchand went on to tell us how she really disliked his beard and hoped he would be shaving it ASAP. They joked about what a mess his apartment was and she was hoping he would get someone to keep it clean. They also talked about their other athletic son and two daughters even letting us know Brad’s younger brother was a faster skater and tougher on the ice.
But the real fun began a few hours later when we found out the Cup was being wheeled down Commercial Street in the North End to Tia’s restaurant on the waterfront where many of the team would meet for cocktails. It was very crowded at the outside bar with patrons snapping photos or just gawking when they realized the stars of the day and the Stanley Cup were in plain view for everyone to see and all had their cell phones clicking away with some of the people manning real cameras. I showed one of the waitresses how to use the zoom on her newly bought IPad and made her day.
What a thrill to see today’s “heroes” out mixing with the regulars and enjoying every moment of it. I could have recited every player’s name in the NHL back in the 60s and 70s but to tell the truth today I have not a clue who is who. This year I watched all the playoff games and the players on the Bruins did not shave during the playoffs and all had playoff beards. It threw me for a loop on Thursday as they had almost all clipped their beards when I saw them and I had figure out who is who. I have not figured it out yet.
These players had muscles on muscles, 6 pack abs that people would die for and if I were to try to get them I probably would die. I don’t think the athletes of today are better athletes than those of the long gone era but they certainly are stronger and have more muscle. Then there is the tattoos; or as the kids call them “ink”. The only ink on my era’s athletes would have been from a leaking pen after signing an autograph.
My first rally was after the Celtics won one of their 18 championships and Boston finally honored them with a parade in the 60s. They were in convertibles driving through the Park Square area. I was so mesmerized by the John Havlicek’s beautiful wife Beth, (what a hottie and that word was not even invented back then) I don’t think I shot anything but photos of her.
On City Hall Plaza in the 80s there was another Celtics rally and Larry Bird told the tens of thousands, “Moses eats shit,” referring to Moses Malone after the Celtics beat the Houston Rockets. Did that set off a pound or two of letters and phone calls!
After one of the Bruins championships in the 70s, Phil Esposito had surgery at MGH and the Bruins were having their breakup dinner at a nearby restaurant. There was no way Phil wasn’t going to be there so some of his team members pushed his hospital bed with him in it to the restaurant. The story goes they broke the frame to a door or two getting out of the hospital and he was still hooked up to IVs. With that team the whole story could be true.
For their first Cup win at Boston Garden my seats section 73, seats 3 and 4 gave me a great view of Bobby Orr’s overtime goal and in 1972 I was at Logan Airport when the Bruins returned with the Stanley Cup after beating the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. We were allowed up to the exit ramp and I was taking photos of everybody when Bobby Orr appeared walking with a young woman, (he handed the young woman I was with a bottle of champagne from the celebration) I mistakenly identified as his girlfriend Peggy, his future wife, WRONG! The next day I was scrambling to figure out who she was. I went to Wellesley and knocked on the State Treasurer Bob Crane’s door with photo in hand to find out who she was and of course Bob knew it was a secretary from the Bruins’ office. He was buddies with Orr and knew all about the team.
Who can forget the Bruins first Stanley Cup Championship rally on Boston’s City Hall Plaza when Johnny “Pie” Mackenzie poured a pitcher of beer over Mayor Kevin White’s head and then the Mayor returned the deed after they won their 2nd cup in 1972.
In 1975 after Carleton Fisk hit his famous home run against the Cincinnati Reds I ran out on the field with all the other photographers as I was covering the game. In 1986 there I was again running out to home plate after the Red Sox beat the Angels in 1986 to go to the World Series.
Who can forget the 2004 Red Sox pre-rolling rally event at Fenway Park when I chose to not work and take my girls to the parade. We walked up to the gate at Fenway on a whim and there was a Boston Cop I have known forever at the door. A few moments later, we were inside enjoying the festivities, running on the field as the Duck Boats loaded. Our Christmas picture that year was my girls with Johnny Damon.
My scariest moment in sports came in January 1986 when the Patriots beat Miami for the right to face the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl. I was dispatched to Green Airport in Rhode Island for a 2am arrival of the team. Works out there must have been 10,000 people who also wanted to greet them. We were somehow in the middle of the tarmac after the plane landed waiting for the players to come down the walkway. All of a sudden these 10,000 people broke through whatever police lines were there and came charging out to the plane. I was with Jim Reddy a technician at the station who was sent with me to help. They came rushing, I thought it was over, Jim grabbed me and put this big bear hug on me and we just stood in the middle like a street pole and thankfully the crowd went around us. I bet $50.00 on the game and I think the Patriots lost by almost 50 points.
In 1986 after the Red Sox lost to the Mets in one of the games after the controversy that stemmed between a pitch by Bob Stanley being a wild pitch or it being a passed ball by catcher Rich Gedman, I was at Fenway when the heart broken team arrived home I heard one of the followers yelling out to Stanley, “You’re the best” and not many agreed at that point in time.
Today, June 18, was the big rally for the Bruins Championship. In all the rallies I have covered this was the biggest crowd pleaser. They had to be more than a million folks lining the streets of Boston for the rolling rally. It was great to be able to share it with those folks even if I was behind the camera.
So in my 45 years of news photography I have worked 3 Super Bowl celebrations, two World Series rallies, numerous Celtics celebrations and 3 Bruins Stanley Cup “parties.” Not bad for a man whose only athletic pursuit is reading the sports section of various publications.
My daughters at 21 and 22 have seen all of the hometown teams win a championship, a feat that took me 55 years.
Outside the garden the other day when the Bruins returned I bumped in Tom Farmer, former Herald reporter and long time friend. His question to me was “I bet you have covered all three of their cup wins?” My answer was “yes” and now I am wondering if he is trying to tell me I am old?
The only thing I do know if it takes another 40 years to win the cup again I will not be there for the celebration.