For at least the third time this season, the Boston Bruins will play a team that’s retiring a sweater number of a former great of its franchise when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow night at RBC Center.
But this time, the Bruins will have a greater interest in the festivities. Glen Wesley, whose No. 2 will be raised to the rafters of the ‘Canes’ home prior to the game, spent seven seasons in a Bruins uniform before leaving for Hartford prior to the 1994-95 season.
Beyond that, one Bruins player has even more of a sentimental connection to Wesley. Boston defenseman Aaron Ward won the third Stanley Cup of his career skating alongside Wesley in ‘Canes colors in 2006, and one moment stands out in Ward’s mind as a prototypical Wesley moment.
“(Chris) Pronger took a shot, a one-timer, and it hit him in the foot and it literally raised him about a foot off the ice,” Ward recalled today after practice about Wesley killing a 5-on-3 Edmonton power play in Game 7 of the ’06 Stanley Cup final. “He struggles to get back up and gets to his feet. The follow-up shot hits him in the same spot, same foot and drops him again. And he managed to get off the ice. So he’s a gutsy guy.”
Ward credited Wesley and his desire to get his name on the Cup for the first time while at the tail end of his career as a driving force in the team’s march to the title. In a lot of ways, Ward is the Bruins’ version of Wesley with his sound defensive play, occasional offensive contributions and, of course, his shot-blocking. Ward said Wesley was one teammate he was eager to emulate.
“He’s one of those guys that if you talk about specific qualities, you always have to draw upon the best qualities of every player you played with and see if you can integrate that either into your personality in the locker room or your type of play on the ice, and he’s a guy that he stood in front of everything, he was a man of many hats and he was always a very consistent personality and person,” Ward said. “He wasn’t really about himself on the ice, a great assistant captain, a good support guy and a guy who I think we needed in our Cup run who had not won yet.”.