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Bruins raise banner before starting new season

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- Mark Recchi will always remember his last time on NHL ice as a member of the Boston Bruins.

The future Hall of Famer not only got to put on the classic home uniform of the Original Six franchise Thursday night during the Bruins' pregame ceremony to raise their 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner, he also got to put on "The Jacket."


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Defenseman Andrew Ference picked up an ‘80s-styled Bruins windbreaker on eBay midway through last season -- and all the way through the Game 7 win in the Cup Final, the Bruins passed the ratty old coat to the outstanding player in that particular night's game.

As part of the championship celebration, Ference made one last handoff to Recchi, who the blueliner credited with teaching the Bruins how to be champions over his two-plus seasons in Black and Gold.

"It meant a lot to our team. It was a very proud thing for the guys after games, and we were very proud of it," Recchi, who retired over the summer, said after the ceremony as his former teammates took on the Philadelphia Flyers in the season-opener at TD Garden. "When Andrew brought it in and we started it, it was a special thing, and to be able to get it last in Vancouver and then get it repeated tonight, in front of your home crowd, is something I'll never forget."

The passing of the jacket, which Recchi said will be framed and hung in the Bruins' dressing room, was one of many memorable moments from the ceremony. There were brief speeches by Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, president Cam Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli and captain Zdeno Chara.

Another emotional scenario had the Bruins taking the ice in full uniform -- including Recchi and fellow retiree Shane Hnidy -- after a highlight video of the Bruins' Cup run and passing the Cup from player to player in the same order they did it in June in Vancouver.

"I think that's one thing that every team wants to do is lift it on the home ice," forward Brad Marchand said. "That was the first time we got to do it and it was a great feeling to be able to do it."

When it came time to raise the banner, Chara, alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, Recchi and goaltender Tim Thomas needed a little help. So out came members of the Bruins' previous championship squad from 1972. Highlighting the group of legends was the immortal Bobby Orr.

The banner now sits next to the Bruins' other five championship banners with what Jacobs called room for more. Seeing the product of his and his team's efforts got Thomas to reminisce.

"That was a special moment. It was another one to add to the memory bank that you'll remember forever," said the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner. "While it was happening I was picturing myself coming back and visiting for a game 30 years from now and looking and that banner and saying, ‘we helped raised that banner.'"
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