Part one. The history.
( Photo Credit: Bleacher Report )
In 1995, Bostonians everywhere bid farewell to the world-famous Boston Garden. Gone were the (not so) legal rink dimensions, the legendary Parquet floor of the Celtics, and many memories that will forever live in the lore of Boston sports. The Goal, Brad Park’s rolling puck rebound goal, and even the memories of early success in 1929, 1939, and 1941.
But once an old chapter closes, a new one begins.
( Photo Credit: Flickr )
Ever since the first game in TD Garden (a 4-4 Tie against the New York Islanders) then called the Fleet Center upon its grand opening, over 30 million people from all over the world have walked through the doors of the Bruins and Celtics current home. The Bruins would secure their first victory two nights later when they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. As the season progressed, the Bruins would see relative success finishing with a 22-14-5 home record.
One event can put a new sports arena on the map. For The Garden, that event happened to be the 1996 NHL All-Star Game. The game’s brightest stars all together on one sheet of ice. Bruins legend Ray Bourque scored with less than a minute remaining to clinch victory for the Eastern Conference and would go on to win Most Valuable Player honors.
( Photo Credit: FromThisSeast.com )
It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the TD Garden hosted the Stanley Cup Final, and the first game won’t soon be forgotten. An 8-1 thrashing by the boys in Black and Gold over the Vancouver Canucks. The team’s offense exploded after losing unsung hero Nathan Horton to a late hit from Aaron Rome.
Today, over 20 years later, TD Garden still continues to be one of the most exciting places to watch a hockey game. There may not be a sparkle and shine to the concourse like there once was, with the building being over 20 years old. But the atmosphere of a game in Boston is a surreal experience for any hockey fan, whether you support the Bruins or not.
( Photo Credit: BizJournals.com )
17,565. A number, just like 13,909 that is embedded into the minds of Bruins fans from Hartford to Portland. The capacity of the TD Garden for many years was one of the smallest in the National Hockey League. Only a few arenas can say that they hold fewer fans when all the tickets sell.
Part two. The fans.
Friends come and go, but fans give you a two-hour bond that lasts forever. The fans you meet, are the ones you remember for the rest of your life. It’s the people who sit all around you. The ones that share their personal stories about Bruins teams from long ago. I recall seeing many games over the 19 years I lived in Boston, and the one thing I can remember from every single game is being able to connect with the amazing fans around me. To tell stories about some of the greatest games.
Bruins fans are some of the most loyal fans in any sport. Nobody really jumps on a bandwagon because, as Bostonians, we just don’t really allow it. If you were born anywhere in New England, it was just in your DNA to become a fan of the Black and Gold. To wear the spoked B on your chest from October to April and hopefully up until June. Men growing their own playoff beards, sticking to the tradition don’t shave unless you’re out of the playoffs.
( Photo Credit: TD Garden )
Part three. Personal memories
From the first time I remember seeing the Bruins take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Lord only knows what year(It was a 6-3 Bruins victory if anyone wants to do some research). Funny how the mind works like that. I can remember the score of the game but can’t remember what year it took place in. To the game against the Flyers, where we scored with like 9 seconds left in the game to take the lead.
One of my favorite memories of a Bruins game at TD Garden came in 2010. Fan appreciation day was one of my favorite games to go-to for multiple reasons. The game was close to my Birthday, the Bruins would give out rally towels, which made it feel like a playoff game, and even though I came nowhere close to winning, I always felt happy for the lucky few that won the shirts off our backs raffle. The game itself will also go down as one of the best in Boston Bruins history. In two minutes. On a penalty kill. Boston scored
But three, yes, three times on the same shorthanded shift.
Somehow, the hockey gods would turn on us in that game as Carolina scored two goals to cut the deficit to only one. And the game would have been tied two and a half minutes into the third period if it hadn’t been for Patrice Bergeron being in the right place at the right time. Boston would go on to win that game, and I (12 years old at the time walked out with a smiling grin stretching from ear to ear)
Over the years, TD Garden has become a staple in Boston for the millions of fans who walk through the doors every year, and even though COVID-19 had put a screeching halt into the sports season for both the Bruins and Celtics, the building continues to light up as you drive over the Zakim Bridge.