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Guess what the Bruins did a year ago?

06.15.12 at 7:28 pm ET

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the Bruins winning the Cup, and among all the Tim Thomas bashing we welcome you to a time when his most famous words weren’t political or controversial but rather, “Do I leave it here?”

2010-11 was my first year on the Bruins beat, so it was pretty action-packed and plenty exhausting. It all started in Prague and ended on the ice at Rogers Arena after Game 7. While it was an incredible experience for a young journalist — I got a picture next to the puddle from the beer that was thrown at Gary Bettman during the Cup ceremony — there probably wouldn’t have been enough coffee in all of British Columbia to keep me or the rest of the media functional if there was such a thing as Game 8.

That day began with media availability at the Bruins’ hotel. I did my normal routine for hotel availability in Vancouver. There was some mall by the water that had a Tim Horton’s, so I would get a muffin and tea there and grab a cup of coffee at the hotel. Claude Julien and a few players were available to speak — I want to say it was Chris Kelly, Tyler Seguin (to their credit, Kelly and Seguin are absolutely always available to the media), Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara. Their nerves seemed fine, but for a series that had so many money quotes, nobody said anything overly interesting. After all, they were either going to win or lose the Stanley Cup that day, so what else could they have to say?

We took one of the earlier shuttles to the arena that day, and Joe Zarbano got some incredible footage of the Bruins’ bus arriving shortly after ours. He came up to the press box pumped about the video (someone actually said, “Keep your head up, Horton”) but was unsure as to whether a video with that many bleeps would be worth watching. Luckily he had time for extensive edits and it got fans riled up.

Then the best running gag of the playoffs came to a hilarious end. The Flyers serve amazing soft pretzels in the shape of their logo to the media during games. Prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, I noticed that for the first time all season, the B’s were serving soft pretzels to the media and sarcastically tweeted that the B’s were 2-0 in the playoffs in games in which the media were served pretzels. I updated the stat following the game and the media relations folks — the best in the business and apparently a superstitious bunch — bought into it. From then on, pretzels were served at very home game, and they won them all. The “#pretzel” hash tag caught on with the twitter folk, and the Bruins finished the playoffs 8-0 in games in which the media were served soft pretzels.

For Game 7, the Bruins sent a dozen pretzels from Boston to Vancouver to keep the good thing going, but they were actually seized by Canadian customs. There were a lot of funny stories from that postseason run, but that was as outrageous as it  could have gotten.

Fortunately for the Bruins, that ended up being inadvertent misdirection, as Nathan Horton famously snuck some Garden Ice in and sprayed it onto the surface at Rogers Arena.

Fast forward to the game, and after Bergeron’s goal late in the first period, the rest of the game felt like 10 minutes. As entertaining as that series was, there was just no way Thomas was going to let anything past him after that. It seemed like he wasn’t the only one on the ice that knew it.

Here’s some behind-the-scenes information about Mike Petraglia is an absolute master of the under-appreciated art of headline-writing. Tell him what your story is, and he’ll have something perfect, whether funny, snarky or whatever else may suit it. I was adamant that if the Bruins won, the headline for the game story should be, “Bruins win the Stanley Cup,” just for the sake of all the 20-or-30-something-year-old fans that thought they might never see those words written in their lifetime. He wanted something else (I forget what it was). A compromise was reached, and we each wrote separate entries (he writes them for the This Just In part of our homepage) with the headlines we had made a light fuss about. Sportswriters may be a lot of things, but you can’t say they aren’t particular.

Vancouver was out of control after Game 7 and it was a dangerous scene for lots of the scribes covering the series, but I own perhaps the most boring “Vancouver riots” story of them all. By the time I finished all my work at Rogers at a much later hour than usual (rather than simply going in the dressing rooms and then coach’s press conference, media went on the ice, then to press conferences for players and then to the coach’s pressers), the shuttle service taking the media to and from the hotel had caught wise to the whole situation and mapped a safer route. Many of the media members walked back through all the destruction and rioting and saw some unbelievable things. I was back in five minutes, with the only rioting I witnessed coming from the television.

Now the Cup is in LA while the Bruins, fresh off a woefully underwhelming Cup defense that lasted just seven games into the postseason, will try to replicate their run without their Conn Smythe winner.

The East is better these days than it was a year ago, and though June 15, 2011 may feel like it was ages ago, the Bruins still have the experience as they look to bring the Cup back to Boston.

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