There are countless things to like about this Bruins Stanley Cup run. And, certainly, the current 2-2 series tie in the Final ranks right up there. But more than the Tim Thomas saves, Roberto Luongo struggles and physical battles, it is an off-ice gesture that tells a tremendous story.
Several months ago, Milan Lucic came into our NESN Daily studio. It was prior to the start of the playoffs but late enough in the season that the team had developed its personality, chemistry, whichever word you choose to best describe that "it" quality.
Among the topics I asked Lucic about: an old-school Bruins jacket. It was making its way around the locker room, awarded to the player of the game by his teammates every night. Lucic laughed when I asked about it, but enjoyed talking about it. That jacket clearly brought out one of the high points of this team. Their camaraderie.
It is, of course, not so much the jacket itself but what it symbolizes. Players from Lucic, to Tim Thomas, to Nathan Horton and now, Rich Peverley have called the jacket "his own" for a night. That distinction is only earned when a teammate passes the jacket along to the team's standout player of the game. It is far from a complicated process, but, it has become a tradition — and it speaks volumes.
Tuesday night, that jacket hung in Nathan Horton's locker. It wasn't the first time. He's worn it the postgame podium with pride — netting two Game 7 winners in overtime will do that.
Tuesday, we all know, was different. An Aaron Rome hit in the first period hushed the Garden crowd and probably just about half of New England in their living rooms. Horton, who is home and recovering, will not return for the remainder of the Final.
But Thursday night, for a crucial Game 4 in which the Bruins looked to level the series, Horton was there. Given the concussion he is recovering from, his presence enough is telling. That he hand-delivered the jacket to the player who had taken his place on the top line and scored twice?
Rich Peverley put it like this: "It means a lot, coming from Nathan. He's a big part of our team. Just to see him was important to all of us."
If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the scrapbook you could create with the photos of that old jacket — making its way from locker to locker, up to the podium on the back of the player of the night.
It's the type of story that weaves itself into a tale for the ages over time. One you'll tell your children and grandchildren; one that will be passed down through the generations. What a chance these Bruins have earned themselves for that tale to go down in history.
Say what you want about the series — the bad blood, the physical play on the ice, the stellar showcase by some and lackluster performance by others. When it’s all said and done, the tradition of that jacket just might say it all.
Photo from TwitPic/@Erk_The_Jerk