BOSTON — Bruins fans, most of whom probably can’t believe they’d ever have anything in common with Jeremy Jacobs, can take solace in knowing that as much as the pride their feeling about the Eastern Conference champion Bruins matches that of the team’s owner, the precarious position of being down 0-2 to Montreal way back in the first round had him just as queasy.
“I was disappointed we were down 2-0. But I had a lot of confidence in our team. But I have to tell you when you’re down 2-0, you got to be concerned about whether or not you can pull that off,” said Jacobs today during a rare press conference at the TD Garden just days after his team won the Eastern Conference Final over Tampa Bay.
“And to go into Montreal and win the next two, well that was very refreshing. And then to wind up in the seventh game overtime, it could have gone either way. It really could have, that’s hockey. I think we learned a lot more about ourselves because we did go on. And I think that was important to see what we’re made of and for the players and everybody to recognize, this team knows how to reach down deep and reach down and get it and garner a win.”
For the first time since 1990, Jacobs’ Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Final, and no one’s wait has been arduous than that of the man who signs the checks. After all, the Bruins have spent to the salary cap every year since the lockout and this season even spent beyond the cap with the Long Term Injury Reserve rule used to replace center Marc Savard.
Jacobs, who has owned the team since 1975, had to be wondering if he and the people he hired — mostly president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli — had invested the Delaware North money wisely. Now with the championship series against Vancouver set to open on the road Wednesday, Jacobs can breathe easier.
“It validates it. It does validate that we’re filling the holes with the right people and bringing the right organization together,” he said. “It validates the quality of the management and the leadership. But the leadership, not just at the top but throughout the organization. From the players on the ice, you take Zdeno Chara. His leadership is indispensable. You take a Peter or a [head coach] Claude [Julien] holding to his discipline and all that he brings to it that a Peter does and then a Cam. I think the organization from the top to bottom has evolved into a singular objective. They coalesced. And I think it’s, I’m very proud of them. I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
Jacobs rarely meddles in hockey matters but felt today was a good day to speak with the players and coaches. Julien was among those honored to have the owner speak.
“Well I think it meant a lot. I was happy that he did take the time to speak to our team,” said Julien. “We don’t see him much during the regular season. He comes and watches games but he certainly is not one of those owners that will interfere and then come down much. So that’s his personality and it’s his style and we respect that.
“But when he does come in, like he did today, and address the team, everybody was happy to hear from him. And he’s a person that obviously speaks his mind as far as he told us that he was very proud of our group. And for a person that we don’t hear much from, I think it was a great message today for our players. And I know that our guys walked out and were really happy to see him and to hear from him.”
There might even be a little more added motivation for the players knowing that their owner is behind them 100 percent.
“We want to do it for everybody involved, him included,” said forward Shawn Thornton. “It’s good to see his face. I’m sure guys got a little bit of jump out of it. It’s nice to hear … I mean, when he talks, you definitely listen.”
Jacobs has been a much-criticized figure in Boston for decades. Should the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, his legacy will definitely take on a different tone. His gut and his heart, however, will continue to take on the pains and anxiety of every fan.