Posted by: emmaharger | October 26, 2011

A town where it’s sports over everything

Hello everyone, I’m back from Boston. I had an amazing time up there with great friends, good weather and an unbelievably good time at the Bruins game we attended. This post is just going to focus on the Bruins-related side of my experiences there.

I arrived on Friday night, met Vicky at the airport and we ventured out together into the city. Our hotel was located in Charlestown, just across the bridge from Boston proper and home of Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton (though we didn’t see him out and about), so to get there we learned to love the 93 bus line’s stop at Haymarket Station.

I took this photo of the Haymarket stop during one of our longer waits for a night bus.

In fact, outside Haymarket Station right by that T sign was a guy selling a bunch of Boston swag including many of the designs from Sully’s. I definitely saw the Sedin one, the Marchand one, Real Men Wear Black and Gold, Horton Hears a Woo and the playoff checklist shirt. Near Haymarket, too, was a very large parking garage advertised as the preferred parking garage for the nearby TD Garden. That was one of the first signs I’d really arrived. The second big sign was when our bus went over the bridge for the first time, we looked over and we saw the beautiful TD Garden itself gleaming in the dark. It’s truly beautiful to see in real life, but I couldn’t get a good photo due to the bus windows and the bus moving.

Our hotel also had NESN on the TV, so we could watch whatever was on offer there, whether it was a Minnesota/Vermont college hockey game, the daily sports news shows or the late-night “Bruins in 2” rerun of the very game we attended.

The very next day was game day, so Vicky, Bethany and I dressed up in Bruins shirts for the day. Vicky had on the same one the guys wore for the duck boat parade, Bethany a Lucic shersey she got for her recent birthday (17 is her lucky number) and I had my Bergeron shersey. We spent the day in the city, centering around the North End, because it’d be easier to hit up the Garden nice and early from there. Walking around the city, I saw so many people in so many different kinds of Bruins clothes. It was really cool.

This very faded "Bergie 37" sign was taped to a crosswalk pole in Charlestown.

We went shopping at Quincy Market. Vicky and Bethany were both raving about Newbury Comics, which has a bigger-on-the-inside two-story location in that area, so we popped in there and it was truly amazing like they said! They too had a bunch of Bruins stuff like shirts, hats, magnets, a sticker for my car and toys. I was also in the market for a jacket, calendar or both, so we hunted around the area for those things. While I was unsuccessful in finding those things at the time, I had fun browsing.

Check out the Bruins display in this shop!

In the shop photographed above–do note all the Hartford Whalers stuff; a lot of the stores there had quite a lot of Whalers things, leading me to wonder if eventually Thrashers stuff will be cool and vintage–the older man running the place saw my shirt and pretended I was Patrice. “Hey, Mr. Bergeron,” he started. “You going to skate tonight?” I played along with it. “I am!” “Hope you score again, we’d love to see a hat trick!” “Yeah, me too!” At this point I broke character to explain myself: hockey fan from Atlanta, became a Bruins fan, happy to be up here, etc. He was very kind, just like everyone else I encountered. It was pleasantly unexpected.

On our way to the North End for snacks at Mike’s, we passed over the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the above-ground version of the infamous Big Dig. I think it’s nice that they made green space above ground instead of bisecting the city with a hideous highway. (Unlike Atlanta, where I-20 was designed precisely to bisect the city in just one of many old city planning decisions with a racially-focused bent. That’s also why some streets change names at certain intersections. I digress.) As we walked through the greenway, we noticed some little kids playing in the park on a nice day.

That kid in the Bergeron shersey is doing it right.

There was also this sign still hanging from a multi-story building, presumably hung around the time of the duck boat parade.

While the cannoli from Mike’s Pastry did not produce in me the, uh, same effect they produced on hockey legend Mike Modano, I have to admit it was pretty darn good. I had one studded with chocolate chips. We also walked past Monica’s Mercato, also known as the place Andrew Ference always goes to get pre-game pasta. Before long, though, it was time to walk down to Causeway Street and go to the Garden!!

One of our jokes over the trip was that Zdeno Chara was everywhere. (Bethany joked it's because he's so tall, he physically can't help being everywhere.) Here he is again!

The area around the Garden features a lot of sports bars, including The Four’s, where we went afterwards for snacks and drinks. Before games, it’s a nice bustling area that I feel very comfortable in, so it was great to be there. We stopped by the Bobby Orr statue, of course, but I was most amused to discover potted flowers by the TD Garden sign. A while ago, I’d wondered if there were actual flowers there, given the name–hey, it was late at night and I was feeling silly–but an attempt to Google and find out just gave me information about flower shows held at the Garden.

I’d made a sign for the occasion and now asked Vicky to take pictures of me with it.

Yours truly.

It reads “I came from Atlanta (Winnipeg sucks!) to see the Bruins!” I noticed other fans inside the Garden looking at it and then looking at me approvingly. That’s not all that happened with the sign, but I’ll circle back around to that later. We got into the Garden, which is also the bustling North Station for Amtrak and commuter rail trains. It has a McDonald’s, at least two Dunkin’ Donuts and a pizza place in addition to the Bruins pro shop, where we browsed and I bought a neat, thick book that is the 2011-12 guide and records book. It has huge glossy photos of everyone in the Bruins system, facts and figures and records, etc. Since we were so early, we hung out for a while before getting in line to go upstairs and enter the game! Once we were inside, we picked up our free roster posters featuring Brad Marchand and I dropped $5 on the fancy game program too. Then we headed down to ice-side for warmups. I hadn’t been able to do this since April and was quite excited.

Okay, at warmups, many exciting things happened. Vicky, Bethany and I appeared on the jumbotron at one point with my sign! We all jumped up and down and made a big deal of it. That wasn’t the best thing, though. At one point, Tyler Seguin skated around to where we were and, after looking at who was there, intentionally careened backwards into the glass. So, we banged our hands against the glass right back!

You can see a bit of Vicky's red and white Boston University jacket in this photo, just to show you how close the guy was to us.

At one point, Rich Peverley came around, saw my sign and tapped his stick in its direction. Peverley, of course, played in Atlanta after being claimed off waivers from Nashville and had some of his most productive years to date with the Thrashers. I’m glad he liked the sign!

But then something even better happened. Patrice Bergeron, while skating the curve–well, Vicky swears up and down he winked at me.

Hi. (Aw, I just noticed the two "just married" signs behind him! Mazel tov!)

I wanted to see if what some fans had observed at other games would happen at this one too. Would Seguin and Marchand wait for one another and leave the ice together as the last guys off before the zambonis? Why yes, yes they would.

Boston's big bromance.

Warmups over, with me on cloud nine because of what had transpired, we raced off to our seats. We were very high up in the 300s, but actually our seats were really good and we had an excellent view of the entire ice. There were some Sharks fans near us, so we indulged in a little chirping. One guy would chirp “scoreboard” when we were down, but I’d answer with a “Stanley Cup!”

The view from our seats. This includes the banners, oh yes.

The game was fun. It was considerably more fun when we scored twice in very quick succession during the third period so we could all jump out of our seats and scream and hug each other victoriously while Kernkraft 400 played. When they played “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” that was pretty awesome too because we could sing along and have fun. Sure, we didn’t win because of some egregious flubbing-up at the end of the third, but I still had a great time. Afterwards, knowing it would be very cold but having decided against bringing my jacket so people could see my shirt, I bought a soft brown Bruins hoodie from a friendly guy, put it on and we went out to the Causeway crowd…

But then we saw some people hanging out around the entrance and exit to the parking lot in front of the Garden. It turns out they were seeking autographs and pictures from players as they left for the night! We hung around with them. Near me was a cute little boy who was a very avid fan and a grown man in a Boston College jacket (boo!) who would hilariously misidentify people as they left. We’re talking him being like “CHER! IS THAT YOU?” and making us all laugh. The only player who stopped to sign things was Joe Corvo and he stopped for a long time. He even signed my sign.

This photo is webcam quality, but you can see his signature right by both the Boston logo and Winnipeg sucks.

We did see quite a lot of other people drive away, though. I can’t recall every single one, but I do remember seeing Marchand, Seguin (in a very nice black sports car), Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic (his girlfriend was driving), David Krejci and Tim Thomas, who drives a huge silver pickup truck and waved to us in manner of the Queen of England as he left. The Boston College guy kept jokingly identifying everyone as Tuukka Rask, so when Tuukka did actually come by–on foot, not behind the wheel of any vehicle–he didn’t call it out at first; I did! Tuukka walked across the street, walked over a block, crossed back over by the Bobby Orr statue and hailed a cab, apparently.

More on Tuukka: We ran into the Boston College guy later while waiting for a bus and he told us, whether truthful or not, that he’d seen Tuukka griping about being unable to hail a cab at 2 a.m. This became part of our epic Tuukka in-jokes, which also consisted of him being on one of the many party buses and trolleys that passed by our bus stop before the night bus we needed. Before we left the Garden, we also saw a lot of the NESN personalities, including Andy Brickley and Naoko Funayama. (I jokingly asked, with Funayama unable to hear me, if they were hiring. Perhaps I wasn’t really joking, though.) However, at 11 p.m. we decided to hit up The Four’s because we needed to keep the T’s running hours in mind.

So, we ate and drank, reminisced about the night, flipped through my photos, waited for the night bus, joked about Tuukka, got back to the hotel and watched the Bruins in 2 rerun. We had an absolute blast, even though the home team didn’t win, in the town where it does indeed feel like it’s sports over everything.



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