BOSTON – Growing up working class like he did back in his native Quebec, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron never imagined he'd own a piece a of jewelry featuring more than 300 diamonds.
After receiving his ring Tuesday night for being part of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champion Bruins, Bergeron couldn't contain his joy and had already sent a photo of his ring to his brother.
"You have to, I guess. He's coming on Thursday, I wanted for him to have a surprise like I did tonight. But I couldn't do it," Bergeron said after a team dinner at the Boston Harbor Hotel, where the team received its hardware. "I couldn't wait to show it to him tonight. And I told him it's not even close to what it looks like when he actually sees it."
To understand the power of the ring, all you need to know is that talkative Bruins forward Shawn Thornton almost couldn't respond to a question about it.
"I mean, it's probably worth more than my parents made growing up," said Thornton, who grew up in Oshawa, Ontario. "So it's a … I'm kind of speechless. It's unbelievable how much they went out of their way to make sure that everyone was happy. It's great."
The rings arrived via armored car around 4:40 p.m. while business people stopped in their tracks in downtown Boston. The Stanley Cup followed the rings before the players arrived and walked a red carpet. The team included many members of the organization, in addition to players and coaches, in the festivities. All told, 505 rings will be distributed.
Even players no longer with the Bruins were on hand for the occasion. The retired Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy made their way to Boston, as did Michael Ryder, who was granted permission to attend by his new team the Dallas Stars.
"It's good. I'm happy that it worked out and it's just good to see everybody and be a part of it," said Ryder. "These guys, we'll always remember each other for what we did and it's good to have this night."
Hnidy nearly didn't get the chance to win the Cup, as he was without a contract and home nursing an injury he suffered while playing as a tryout in Phoenix's camp as recently as midseason last year. The Bruins signed him as a free agent in February.
"A lot of thinking comes into that. You never know when it's going to end," he said. "To kind of reflect on a career and to go out with the Stanley Cup and then have the chance to come back and really appreciate all this kind of means more. Because when you're a player, sometimes you take it for granted and you think it's going to happen again, there's a chance. I know this is the end of the line, so I'm going to enjoy every minute. It's been very special."
There's more to the rings than just what's on the outside. The inside features intricate custom engraving. On one side is engraved the team's playoff slogan that decorated the locker room during the playoff run, "Full 60+ to History." The logo of the Bruins' playoff opponents and the score of each of those series also decorate the interior.
Recchi already owns two previous rings from his Cup wins in 1991 (Pittsburgh) and 2006 (Carolina), but he was extremely impressed with his new ornament.
"But I knew this was going to be nice, but what the Jacobs family did was absolutely amazing," said Recchi. "It kind of blew me away actually. It's very special. The thought that went into this and the little details, it's incredible."