Think about what's happened to hockey since then: a devastating lockout, reduced television coverage and the failure of apparent saviors Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby to captivate general sports fans.
I am a Boston sports fan. To say I hate hockey might be a stretch. But to say I've ever watched an entire game would be more of a stretch.
I was born in 1989. Ray Bourque and Cam Neely played within my lifetime, but by the time I was following sports, watching Pedro Martinez pitch a game seemed more appealing than trying to watch a puck go around the ice.
And yet, Boston was a hockey town; I just didn't notice at the time. The increased ratings show that Boston fans will still watch, and they will watch en masse. There's no way Vancouver's presence in the finals is the reason for the virtual bonanza the NHL is experiencing. Boston fans are taking to hockey, according to The New York Times.
The last decade has been a sham. Boston is not a football town. Boston seasons don't go baseball, basketball, football. They go baseball to basketball and hockey, both at about the same time.
Hockey is back to stay in Boston.
This team represents the area. Remember when the Patriots were introduced as a team in the 2001 Super Bowl? They didn't have stars. That's why Boston fell in love with it. This Bruins team has the same blueprint.
What team is the most beloved in Boston?
Blue-collar is what Boston's all about. The Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics are still beloved among Boston fans, but they lost the blue-collar reputation after one (or ten) too many star signings. Regardless of whether the star ended up a J.D. Drew or a Kevin Garnett, something was lost in transaction.
The Bruins bring Boston back to its roots. And in an age where the hard-to-see puck becomes more visible on hi-def televisions, and celebrations, not to even speak of fights, are being stomped out of other sports, hockey is a throwback.
I've come dangerously close to watching an entire hockey game throughout these playoffs. I have seen two periods in each of the last two games and watched parts of virtually every game. But before the series is over, I will watch a full game, because this Bruins team represents Boston's sports past as a hard-luck city.
And what is sport if not nostalgia?
What is success without decades of turmoil?
And what is Boston without hockey?