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All cheers for Cup-champion Bruins

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- The magical powers of the Stanley Cup seemingly know no bounds.

For the first time in the several years, since the Bruins started holding their annual "State of the Bruins" town hall meeting for season-ticket holders, there were standing ovations during introductions and applause after every answer to questions from the audience Monday at TD Garden.

Any doubts that Boston and Bruins fans have been transformed by the end of the 39-year championship drought were dashed by the jovial mood of those gathered at the Bruins' home rink.

Coach Claude Julien received a standing ovation, owner Jeremy Jacobs not only was cheered, but didn't face any harsh questions about his stewardship of the team.

And a majority of the questions were directed from the under-10 demographic of the fans base to Tim Thomas, who has taken on a Superman-like place in many of the children of New England's eyes since the conclusion of his "Triple Crown" season -- Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Stanley Cup.

"It was special. It was a great experience we had this year. We had a terrific ride. Everybody loved this year. It was spectacular." -- Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins

Where in past years the questions would have surrounded the decision to let a player leave via free agency or the price of concessions, Thomas fielded such "hardballs" as, "What's more important, school or hockey?" and, "How did it feel to hit Henrik Sedin during the Stanley Cup Final?"

"Good," said Thomas, who elicited the most laughs on the evening.

The fans not only were wowed by the presence of the team's brass, plus Thomas and center Patrice Bergeron, but by the Cup, which sat glowing in the limelight at the front of the stage.

Team president Cam Neely unveiled the new-look championship banners, which feature the Bruins' logos as they looked in the previous five Cup seasons. And during the course of the evening it was revealed by general manager Peter Chiarelli that Marc Savard will get his name engraved on the Cup -- a major concern that had worried fans all summer -- and Julien explained that there will be competition not only for retired forward Mark Recchi's lineup spot but also for the alternate captain title he had held.

Jacobs wants the good times to continue in Boston and he wants to keep rewarding the fans for their patronage.


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"It was special. It was a great experience we had this year. We had a terrific ride. Everybody loved this year. It was spectacular," he said after the hour-long event. "And hopefully we're able to deliver on it. We've got the same team, the same organization. They know what it takes to win now. And that's an interesting phenomenon to see, the guys that have been there and what they're willing to reach down in order to succeed.

"This is a group of guys, we've been very lucky. Charlie (Jacobs, Bruins Principal and Alternate Governor) started a few years ago when we first started looking for a general manager and brought in Peter. And brought in Cam, too. And the organization he's put together is really working."

While there's still a little time to appreciate the 2011 Cup win, Neely said, "It's getting near the time to turn the page."

Julien said he's already working on smoothly making that happen.

"It certainly was a lot better going on the stage there today than it has been in previous years," he said. "When you win the Cup, it's a lot more positive. But the questions were there and fans are showing some interest in our hockey club. We've got the attention of our city, we've got the attention of our fans again. And they want to know. For us, I think it's a real positive thing and it's up to us to keep it that way."

With little turnover from last season's roster and a solid talent pool of prospects in the pipeline, the Bruins are hoping to maintain their lofty perch in the Boston sports pecking order for years to come. Jacobs believes that while the Cup win validated the hires the organization made the past several years, that validation could continue.

"There is pride in that. It turned out this really looks like an organization that's lasting," said Jacobs. "They're young, they're involved. They represent the next generation of leadership. It's great to see. There's a number of guys out there, but this organization is the best."

The Bruins' attempt to prove Jacobs' words true begins Friday with the official start of training camp.
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