BOSTON – Although they didn’t get to hoist the Stanley Cup last June with the Boston Bruins, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler still played a role in ending Boston’s championship drought.
Both players, who were prized prospects once projected as cornerstones of the Boston franchise, were shipped to Atlanta in the same trade last February – a deal that made Rich Peverley a member of the Bruins.
For the first time since Boston raised the Cup and put a banner in the rafters, Stuart and Wheeler returned Saturday to TD Garden as members of the Winnipeg Jets. While Stuart said he spied the banner, Wheeler admitted he forgot to look up at it during his twirl on the ice during the optional morning skate in preparation for tonight’s Bruins-Jets clash. Wheeler said he’d be sure to check it out before game time.
Both players, who live nearby one another in Minnesota during the offseason, admitted to watching some of the Bruins’ championship run on television, and viewing the drama with heavy hearts.
Wheeler explained that having Stuart close by to lean on and talk about it with made the disappointment easier to swallow.
“It was a weird feeling,” Stuart said. “You’re happy for those guys, you’re happy they won, and the also it’s tough to watch because you want to be there and you want to be part of it.”
Added Wheeler: “It was gratifying, but it was hard at the same time. You want to be a part of it but you certainly take something out of it just watching the guys that you played with for so many years. That was the hardest part of getting traded, Stewie and I both knew that it was a very real possibility that that was going to happen. And to see it come true certainly was kind of mixed emotions, for sure.”