-- The Boston Bruins
had struggled at Rogers Arena in the first three games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
So, injured Nathan Horton
made the trip to Vancouver to not only provide emotional support, but he helped bring a little bit of Boston to the ice.
Horton walked out to the Boston bench before the game, and poured some water onto the ice. He said it was some "dirty water" from Boston, in honor of the song played after victories at TD Garden.
"I was trying to be sneaky about it, but everyone caught me," Horton said.
He didn’t want to provide too many details on the mysterious water, other than to say someone gave it to him once the team was here in Vancouver.
"No, I didn't bring it through security," he said.
Horton missed the final four games of the Cup Final because of a concussion early in Game 3. The hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome
was one of the biggest controversies in a series full of them.
He left the ice at TD Garden on a stretcher and spent the night in a Boston hospital. Nine days later he was on the ice in his full gear, celebrating a Stanley Cup championship with his teammates.
"Obviously I didn't feel too good [in the hospital], but I feel pretty good right now," Horton said. "As soon as I got out of the hospital, I knew it was possible. I believe in my teammates and everybody believes in each other. We are excited to play for each other, and we have a great bunch of guys, from the players to the coaching staff to management to the owners -- everybody here cares about each other and that's why we won the Stanley Cup.
"I'm just so happy to be able to share it with my teammates and be out here."
Horton returned to TD Garden and was in the Boston dressing room after Game 4 to say a few words and hand out the team's vintage jacket after it was hung in his stall after Game 3. He was back at the arena for Game 6, and he was shown on the scoreboard during a timeout to the elation of the Garden faithful.
Before Game 4, honorary captain Bobby Orr
waved a large flag bearing Horton's name and number that also elicited a thunderous roar from the crowd.
"Very special -- our fans are just unbelievable," Horton said. "We've been playing for them all year and throughout the playoffs. It means so much and it was very touching. I'm so happy to be a Boston Bruin.
"It is such a great organization to be apart of with so much history. There's so many things going right here for an Original Six team. It can't get any better as a hockey player."
This was Horton's first year with the Bruins after joining the organization in a trade this past summer from the Florida Panthers
. He became a fixture on the team's top line and clearly became a welcome figure in the dressing room.
Horton's injury became a rallying point for the Bruins, who were down 2-0 at the start of this series but won four of the final five contests.
"Obviously I didn't feel too good [in the hospital], but I feel pretty good right now. As soon as I got out of the hospital, I knew it was possible."
-- Nathan Horton
"Well, our players really wanted him out here, and obviously when you've got a concussion, flying can be sometimes touchy," Boston coach Claude Julien
said. "But our doctors said he was well enough to make the trip. The guys came to me this morning and said, we would like Nathan to be in our dressing room from the get-go and be part of this preparation for the game, and he wanted to be part of it.
"They said we want him around us. That shows you how united of a group we were and how we cared for each other."
Horton was around the team all day, eating breakfast with his teammates at the hotel and watching them during their traditional pre-game soccer warmup. He was there at the end of the game as well, getting his chance to lift the Cup for the first time as well.
"That was the biggest thing," Horton said. "It was my biggest smile for sure. There is no way to put it into words. You just can't explain the feeling. You work all year for that and once it comes, you can't describe it -- this just feels too good. It is so special."