The spiffy new black and gold banner was the center of everyone’s attention Thursday night at the Garden. But it was that ratty old back-and-gold jacket that stole the show.
The Boston Bruins’ summer of Stanley Cup love came to a triumphant conclusion with the raising of the 2011 championship banner to the rafters.
And the Bruins spared no expense in the nostalgia category, bringing back the heroes of the Bobby Orr-led 1972 team — the last to win the Cup before last season — to present the banner before its raising.
But it was the new generation of hockey hero — Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton, Brad Marchand — that the delirious crowd came to see, saving the biggest ovation for Thomas, whose Conn Smythe Trophy-winning performance in goal carried the Bruins through three Game 7 victories, including the Finals against Vancouver.
And then there was that jacket.
The stylistically challenged symbol of Bruins victory, presented to a team-voted MVP after each postseason victory — and hung in the locker room with deep emotion in honor of the injured Horton during the Finals — was presented one more time to one Bruin who did not play in Thursday’s season-opener against the Flyers.
Mark Recchi, who retired after hoisting the Cup in Vancouver, was back in uniform to join his teammates in raising it one final time during the pre-game ceremony.
And it was Recchi, presented by Andrew Ference, who wore the jacket again Thursday to the roaring approval of the Garden crowd.