Cup of Joe: Memoirs Of A Bruins Groupie

Cam Neely always took time out for the fans at Ristuccia Arena.

Cam Neely always took time out for the fans at Ristuccia Arena.

It was the early 90’s, hair metal was on its deathbed and grunge was emerging from the musical murky soup.

I was a high school student at Wilmington High.

I had hockey hair(aka mullet).

I lived in Wilmington, the same town that the Boston Bruins held their training camp and in season practices.

It was my rink of dreams.

Ristuccia Arena.

They built it and I came.

I was and still am a die hard Bruins fan.

I had the shiny black coat with the golden spoked B.

I played street hockey and played goalie because I was a huge fan of Andy Moog.

I had an Adam Oates jersey because I was unselfish like him and rather set up the goal than take all the glory.

I admired Cam Neely and Ray Bourque for their leadership, intensity, and desire.

And I never forgave Glen Wesley for missing the empty net in Game 1 of the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals versus Edmonton.

I bled Black and Gold.

So, I became a regular fixture outside the Ristuccia Arena.

These were my heroes.

The Bruins were the talk of the town years before the Patriots and Red Sox took Boston’s center stage.Cup-of-Joe8-300x290

My friends and I set up stings outside the locker room door that fed out to the players’ parking lot.

Who would we get a glimpse of?

Andy Moog was leaving practice. He was my favorite player at the time. Moog was a solid goaltender that led the B’s to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1990.

There were about four people waiting outside to get a picture or autograph with their favorite Bruins player.

I asked Mr. Moog for his autograph and a picture.

What came next broke my hockey heart.

He replied, “I am in hurry, kid.”

As a teenager who was star stuck, I couldn’t believe my net minding superhero didn’t want to take three minutes to make an adoring fan happy.

I got his autograph and a picture with him.

Unfortunately, I smiled and Moog scowled like he just saw his dog get hit by a truck.

Other players were also not as cordial.

Shawn McEachern was another player that didn’t understand that he was in the “customer service” business as well as the hockey playing business.

The local kid that made it to the NHL couldn’t take out the time to make some fans happy.

Dmitri Kvartalnov, the Russian sniper and member of the famed “Bonzana” line with Joe Juneau and Adam Oates, was also not Mr. Nice Guy when it came to the Bruins Backers.

Not sure if he just didn’t understand our requests due to the language barrier or he just hated democracy.

There were only a few bad apples playing for my beloved Bruins.

Ray Bourque was a top notch class act. He always took out time for the few Bruins groupies standing outside with their sticks, jerseys, and sharpies.

He probably signed autographs for me at least six times before he hopped into his ultra cool BMW.

He may have filed a restraining order on me because I could be a borderline stalker, but I rather use the term, groupie.

As a teenager, Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington was my rink of dreams.

As a teenager, Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington was my rink of dreams.

I made Cam Neely laugh when I called him the “New Million Dollar Man” fresh off signing a blockbuster contract with the Bruins.

My friend and I were at Ristuccia when Craig Janney made his return to Boston, but now as a member of the St. Louis Blues. A local TV channel was there and captured our hands getting autographs from the former Bruins pivot man.

I thought that fame would have paved a path for me as a successful hand model, but no dice.

On a rainy day, LB (Lyndon Byers) asked my buddy and me if we would roll up the windows and lock up his Jeep Wrangler.

He threw us the keys. We were like giddy little school girls. I think we both screamed, “Oh My Gawwwwdddd!”

We locked up the Jeep as requested and gave Mr. Byers his keys. He said thanks and closed the locker room door.

My friend and I felt like the two kids that weren’t picked to play kickball in gym class.

No autograph?

No picture?

No stick?


Well if the players didn’t give us a stick, we would go dumpster diving?

Dumpster diving, you ask?

It is the art of fishing around a trash receptacle for shattered hockey sticks.

We would take the broken timber/fiberglass of our favorite player (I think I got the runts of the litter. Sorry David Shaw and Shayne Stevenson!), cut off the broken blade, and slid a brand spankin’ Mylec street hockey blade on it.

It was out little piece of Bruins history.

At Ristuccia Arena, you had the good (Adam Oates, Neely, Bourque), the bad (Moog), and the ugly (Bruce Shoebottom was one scary looking dude!) when it came to Bruins players.

However, I wouldn’t trade those moments in for the world. My hockey heroes that appeared on my small color TV, larger than life, were human. They took out time to make small talk and sign a battered, dirty Bruins cap (which I still have) for an adoring fan.

They gave me all these memories that I am sharing with all of you 18 years later.

Because Black and Gold is for life.

Joe Gill is a featured blogger for Boston Sports Then and Now, and

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