VANCOUVER — The Bruins have finally captured the attention of casual sports fans across the New England with their dramatic run to the Stanley Cup Final this spring.
Die-hard hockey fans have had to make room on the bandwagon as folks who usually focus their attention on the Red Sox or Patriots have suddenly discovered that this game of hockey, and particularly this Bruins team, is a pretty darn entertaining thing to watch.
Some of those new fans may be further comforted to know that the guys they're used to following are also pulling for the Bruins to raise their first Cup in 39 years after Game 7 on Wednesday night in Vancouver.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been a prominent visitor to the TD Garden during the Bruins' playoff run, even being honored on the jumbotron as the "fan of the game" after waving a rally towel to the delight of the Garden faithful during a conference final contest against Tampa Bay.
And now Red Sox skipper Terry Francona has reached out as well to offer his support to Bruins counterpart Claude Julien and the club.
"He made that effort to reach out to me and called me and just wished me all the luck," Julien said during the team's media availability at the club hotel in Vancouver on Wednesday morning. "He said he admired what our team had done this year, and you know he's the first guy to say, 'I'm not the most knowledgeable hockey guy,' but he enjoys the game and he's enjoyed what we've done so far. And certainly he's on our bandwagon for sure. I know we've been on theirs. It just seems, we just seem to blend well, the Sox and the Bruins for sure."
The Bruins have shown their support of the Red Sox with many appearances at Fenway Park and shared locker-room space last season when the Bruins played the Winter Classic at Fenway. Boston players such as Shawn Thornton even donned Sox hats for interviews at the start of the Cup Final before the NHL instructed them not to wear non-NHL apparel for such appearances.
"We are all cheering for all our local teams, but he's been good," Julien said of Francona. "It was nice of him to reach out to me and I certainly appreciate that. We saw Bill Belichick at the game. It's not always about talk, it's about action and he showed up and to me that showed me his support and Doc Rivers, it's been the same thing. We've ran into each other in the hallway [at the Garden]. So I like the way that the coaches in Boston really support each other and certainly I am one of those guys who is in that group."
Belichick, Francona and Rivers have all won championships in Boston. Wednesday night in Vancouver, Julien has a chance to lead the Bruins to a Cup and join them in that elite group as well.