-- It's rare for the Bruins players and coaches to have much interaction with owner Jeremy Jacobs, who has mostly left hockey decisions to his hockey people over the more than three decades the team has been under his control.
Sunday, however, was one of those rare days.
The Bruins' long-time owner paid a visit to his team's dressing room to express his congratulations and gratitude for reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1990.
"Oh I did, yeah I did. You have to, why wouldn't you?" said Jacobs when asked during a rare press conference if he addressed the team. "They listen to me, which is unusual. Most people won't.
"No, it was a great experience to visit with them and to understand the ambition that I share with them. Our ambition is to go and win the Stanley Cup. And like I say, we were in Prague 100 games ago. One hundred games these guys have skated. There is a common bond now that exists between everybody. You really build an organization, and I say a hockey organization, a player organization. The athletes are all committed to a central point, and that is a wonderful thing to see and a wonderful place to be."
Boston hasn't always been such a wonderful place for NHL hockey over the last 20 years. The last trip to the conference finals was in 1992 and the Bruins went a decade (1999-2009) without even winning a playoff round. The turnaround started when Jacobs and his son Charlie, hired Peter Chiarelli to be their general manager in May 2006. Along the way, Chiarelli hired Claude Julien
as coach and the Jacobs' family brought back Hall-of-Fame player Cam Neely
to be the vice president. Neely has since been promoted to team president.
"It validates it. It does validate that we're filling the holes with the right people and bringing the right organization together," said Jacobs of his team's current success. "It validates the quality of the management and the leadership -- not just at the top, but throughout the organization.
"From the players on the ice, you take Zdeno Chara
. His leadership is indispensable. You take a Peter or a Claude holding to his discipline and all that he brings to it that as Peter does and then a Cam. I think the organization from the top to bottom has evolved into a singular objective. They coalesced. I'm very proud of them. I'm very proud of what they've accomplished."
It's been 39 years, mostly under Jacobs' ownership, since the Bruins last won the Cup. So Jacobs has suffered longer than even the players and coaches. When Jacobs speaks to the players, it has special meaning.
"We want to do it for everybody involved, him included," said forward Shawn Thornton
. "It's good to see his face. I'm sure guys got a little bit of jump out of it. I mean, when he talks, you definitely listen."
Julien was also glad to get the extra motivation for his team from the guy who signs his checks.
"Well, I think it meant a lot. I was happy that he did take the time to speak to our team," said the coach. "We don't see him much during the regular season. He comes and watches games but he certainly is not one of those owners that will interfere and then come down much. So that's his personality and it's his style and we respect that.
"But when he does come in like he did today and address the team, everybody was happy to hear from him. And he's a person that obviously speaks his mind as far as he told us that he was very proud of our group. And for a person that we don't hear much from, I think it was a great message today for our players. And I know that our guys walked out and were really happy to see him and to hear from him."
Jacobs admitted that while watching from afar he was "concerned" when the Bruins trailed Montreal 2-0 back in the first round. And he was "exhausted" after watching his team down Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
As he reflected on this spring's playoff run, Jacobs also thought back to the disappointments of losing in the first round in 2008 and then the second-round endings that occurred the last two seasons. To him, everything happened for a reason to help get the Bruins to this point.
"These are life experiences that we've taken to heart, we've grown with," said Jacobs. "And this is not an overnight wonder. This is a team that has evolved and built on their experience, both good and bad. And that's very apparent to me to watch them grow the way they have. I couldn't be happier than I am right now."