BOSTON — Brian Rolston spent the first half of the last decade in Boston, so he understands a little about the Bruins' long wait for a Stanley Cup championship and how much it meant to the city to finally win it this past spring.
"It must have been pretty exciting," Rolston said. "I'm happy for the organization. I spent four years of my career here and it was a great four years. I really enjoyed playing here. I was happy for the organization. I played with a couple guys over there and it was obviously huge for the city."
Rolston is now with the Islanders, who are in town to face the Bruins Monday night at the Garden. He's part of a large contingent of former Bruins now calling Long Island home, with Milan Jurcina, Steve Staios and Marty Reasoner also now with the Isles after spending time in Boston earlier in their careers.
But of that group, Rolston may have the best idea just what the Bruins accomplished last spring. Rolston won a Cup himself with New Jersey back in 1995 and also was a part of several Bruins teams that had the talent to challenge for a title but never made it out of the opening round.
"We had great teams," Rolston said. "We had really good teams, but we just couldn't get it done in the playoffs. That's basically what I remember, really good teams and a great city to be in. I look back on it fondly. I had two of my sons here too, so it was great."
Rolston came to Boston form Colorado on March 6, 2000, as part of the return in the trade that sent Ray Bourque to the Avalanche. The Bruins were the top seed in the East in 2002 and the second seed in 2004, but lost to Montreal in the first round both years.
Maybe they would have gone a little further with a goalie like Tim Thomas between the pipes. While Rolston played 338 of his 1,196 career games in Boston from 2000-04, Thomas was up with the big club for just four games during that span, spending the rest of the time in Providence and Europe waiting for his chance.
"Tim Thomas was kind of up and down when I was with the organization," Rolston said. "He'd come in practice and we'd say, 'Why isn't this kid in net?' We couldn't score on him in practice."
Seeing fellow Flint, Mich., native Thomas finally win the Cup last year, and do it while being such an instrumental part of Boston's championship, was especially gratifying for Rolston.
"Tim and I go way back," Rolston said. "He was actually my goalie when I was a Mite back in Michigan. So I was really happy for him obviously. He was a huge part of their Stanley Cup win for sure, to put it mildly."
Rolston, 38, now finds himself one of the veteran mentors for a young Islanders squad that features seven regulars 23 or younger. Not surprisingly, the young squad has struggled with consistency, starting the year 3-1-0 before a six-game losing streak finally snapped with an impressive 5-3 win over Washington on Saturday.
"I'm enjoying it," Rolston said. "We have a young team here with a lot of talent. We're trying to find our way here. We started off good, then we dropped a few, and that's going to happen. You're going to have ups and downs during the course of the season. It's how you respond to those times that's important, and we responded and we have to continue on from that big win against Washington."