Saturday, September 26, 2009
The final game in Boston Garden was held when the Bruins hosted the Montreal Canadiens for a pre-season game on this date in 1995.
The Boston Garden opened on Novenber 17, 1928 and was designed by boxing promoter Tex Rickard, who also built the third Madison Square Garden in New York. It was originally called "Boston Madison Square Garden", which was later shortened to the "Boston Garden".
The Boston Garden was built on top of the a train station and was shared by the Boston Celtics basketball club.
Rickard built the arena with boxing in mind, believing that every seat should be close enough to see the "sweat on the boxers' brows". As a result, when the larger hockey surface was used, the fans were famously much closer to the action than in most arenas and it also led to a much louder and intimidating arena than the norm.
With the original design of the arena favoring boxing, it led to compromises with the playing surface for hockey, as it was nine feet shorter and two feet narrower than a now standard 200 feet by 85 feet. The arena was also without air conditioning, resulting in fog forming over the ice on occasion during spring playoff games.
The Boston Garden hosted the Stanley Cup Finals 16 times between 1929 and 1990, with the last two being interrupted by power outages at some point.
Eventually advances in architectural design and consumer demands meant that the 67 year old arena was in need of replacement. Along with no air conditioning, the seats were cramped and some had obstructed views due to pillars. It had less than 15,000 seats and no luxury boxes, a modern amenity that had become a major source of income for modern professional teams. With a new arena under construction in early 1993, the writing was on the wall for the old Boston Garden and the last event held in "The Gahden", was the preseason game between the Bruins and Canadiens, which was actually played in two 25-minute halves.
In a special post-game ceremony, the championship banners and retried numbers were removed with 30 former Bruins greats in attendance.
Today's featured jersey is a 1995-96 Boston Bruins Cam Neely jersey. Aside from being the classic Bruins jersey from one of the most popular Bruins ever, what sets this jersey apart is the "Last Hurrah" patch worn for the final game ever played in Boston Garden, fittingly won by the Bruins 3-0.
An awesome video treasury rounds out today's entry as we take a look back at the closing of the Boston Garden.
This is actually the first of 19 parts to this video series documenting the final game in Boston Garden and it's ceremonies. We have selected ones primarily relating to the history and ceremonies to post today.
After a pair of interviews with Bruins President and General Manager Harry Sinden and Canadiens Managing Director Serge Savard, Ed Westfall and Derek Sanderson take us for a tour of the arena, including a story about hunting rats while sitting on the bench(!) and a look at some of the more obstructed seats.
Starting halfway through this next segment is an extended interview with Bobby Orr.
Here are the notable Bruins alumni being introduced after the game starting four minutes into part 14, including the emotional return to the Boston Garden for Normand Leveille in part 15, whose career was cut short by a brain aneurysm early in his second season. It's a serious lineup of star players and classic jerseys (and sweaters), as each player wore the jersey style used during their first season with the club.
Part 16 includes the beginning of the players who have had their number retired by the Bruins, including Milt Schmidt.
This segment features Johnny Bucyk, Phil Esposito and an emotional Bobby Orr having their retired number banners lowered.
This final segment has the players taking one final skate around the ice, which must be seen just for the always classy Ray Bourque helping Normand Leveille take one final lap around the ice. It concludes with a nice highlight montage at the end.