The pig pile around the Bruins net and handshake line with the vanquished Vancouver Canucks couldn't do it.
Not even actually hoisting the cherished Stanley Cup over their heads on the Rogers Arena ice could do it.
There was simply no way for the Bruins to truly understand what they had just accomplished. Not yet, anyway, but they don't really mind letting it take a while to sink in.
"It was just surreal," forward Chris Kelly said. "It didn't really kick in. It still hasn't. We're Stanley Cup champs. It's a great group of guys here. It's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
Kelly's boss, the guy who brought him over from Ottawa in one of the key deadline deals to put the pieces of a championship puzzle together, didn't have any more luck in trying.
"I can't describe it," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I still don't believe that we're here. Maybe tomorrow at some point I will. But it was nice to hoist it and it was really nice to see the other guys hoist it. That was pretty special."
Coach Claude Julien was able to appreciate it a little more, if only because the reality of hefting 35 pounds of metal over his head is tough to ignore.
"It's pretty heavy," Julien said. "I might have to go in the weight room again, but it certainly felt good.
"It was the first time I ever touched it, the first time I've ever gotten close to it," Julien added. "Everybody has their quirks and superstitions, and I told myself even as a player when I went to the Hall of Fame I never got close to it. I said the day I touch that thing is the day I win it. I believe in earning things."
The Bruins definitely earned their right to lift the Cup this year. They didn't do anything the easy way. They had to go the full seven games in three of their four playoff series, battling back from 2-0 deficits in both the opening round against Montreal and the Cup Final against the Canucks.
"It was only fitting that this series would go to Game 7," Kelly said. "Both teams battled hard, and thank goodness we found a way to win here. We definitely deserved it."
And through all the obstacles, they never doubted their ability to reach this ultimate goal.
"After we lost Game 5 there, Timmy [Thomas] said to us and Claude reiterated that we haven't done anything the easy way all year," forward Gregory Campbell said. "That's exactly right. We've worked hard. There's been up and downs in our season. Having gone through three seven-game series, it's that much more gratifying. It's a long grind, but it's definitely worth it."
Campbell won the Cup in his first NHL playoff appearance, having never reached the postseason with Florida before coming to Boston with Nathan Horton in a key offseason trade last summer. He did win a Memorial Cup in juniors, but not even that prepared him for how difficult it would be to survive four rounds of NHL playoff action.
"It is everything I thought it would be, but it's harder," Campbell said. "It's harder to win than I thought it would be. I knew it was hard to win, but it's a lot harder. It takes so much commitment, so much mental and physical energy. But it's all worth it.
"It's a grind, it's hard," Campbell added. "It's not just me. This organization has gone through some tough times last year. I'm proud to be part of this organization and the city. The team's almost like the city. It's a blue-collar team. We've worked hard. We haven't taken anything for granted. Now winning it, I know how hard it is to win and every single player on that Cup I respect and I appreciate because it's a lot harder to win than you think."
It's a little easier to do with Thomas making one spectacular save after another en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. And easier still with a guy like Patrice Bergeron elevating his play in the most important game of his life, as he opened the scoring with a huge goal late in the first period, then added an even bigger one with a shorthanded tally to make it 3-0 in the second.
"It's an amazing feeling," Bergeron said. "We knew we could do it. We said one more. We weren't satisfied with three wins. We've learned that from the past three years."
The Bruins learned their lesson, but it took a little extra time in the classroom. It was time well spent, though, with a long and memorable road to a championship.
"We definitely didn't make it easy on ourselves," defenseman Adam McQuaid said. "But to win Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final … Everyone was texting me and telling me all day that this is what everyone dreams of, so it's obviously a dream come true."
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