July 21, 2011

From NEHJ: One special Bruins' fan shares spotlight

By Jesse Connolly

Fans on hand at TD Garden had plenty to cheer about during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as they watched their beloved Bruins cruise to a 4-0 victory over the Canucks to tie their series. But there was one individual on hand that night, a young man who was neither a current nor former member of the Black and Gold, who got everyone in the building to rise to their feet. 

Former Marine Cpl. Garrett Breton celebrated the Bruins' historic Stanley Cup championship outside TD Garden.

Former Marine Cpl. Garrett Breton celebrated the Bruins' historic Stanley Cup championship outside TD Garden.

Weymouth, Mass., native Garrett Breton, a former corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, was honored for his service during the Bruins 8-Spoked Salute that night and had a special item in tow for his moment in the spotlight.

Here, the longtime Bruins fan and newcomer to the team’s tight-knit bunch of season-ticket holders shares his tale:

What originally compelled you to become a Bruins fan?

“I was pretty much born into being a Bruins fan. My entire immediate family, my cousins, uncles and my grandparents have always been big B’s fans. I remember my grandmother telling me stories of the Garden and her getting to witness ‘The Goal’ Bobby Orr scored to win it in overtime against the Blues to give the Bruins the Stanley Cup, and she even had photos somewhere of my grandfather posing with the Cup during the celebration. After hearing all these stories, I really wanted to experience a Stanley Cup victory in my lifetime.

“I remember watching games as a little kid on UPN 38 and having to go to bed after the first period. I’d climb out of my bed, put the TV back on and turn the volume and color contrasts low so the glare wouldn’t be seen from under my door by my parents.”

How long were you away from home during your days in the military and what was it like trying to keep track of the Bruins during those days?

“I spent five months in Afghanistan, but that was during the lockout. I did get to see the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and the Patriots win the Super Bowl while there, so that was pretty cool to experience overseas. 

“I then spent seven months in Iraq in 2006, but that was a different living situation than Afghanistan. We lived in the city of Fallujah, so we didn’t have any TV or computers. I had little opportunity to check the box scores, let alone even sleep, as we worked 20-hour days. All I really knew was that they finished last in the division, so luckily I didn’t miss anything.”

How did the 8-Spoked Salute come together?

“My close friend and fellow Bruins fan, Nicole Mullin, wrote a short essay stating why I should be honored. I believe the fan relations department emailed her and told her I was to be honored for Game 4. We were so excited when we found out.”

So what inspired you to wave the Nathan Horton shirt while you were honored?

“I brought the Horton shirt up with me to the 8-Spoked Salute because, as Marines, we always honor our fallen brothers. Seeing him leave the ice on a stretcher just two days beforehand was so tough to watch, so I almost felt like it was something I had to do. I actually decided to do it before Bobby Orr waved (Horton’s) flag so it all worked out great.”

What’s it like to hear 17,565 people screaming their lungs out for you, standing on their feet and applauding what you’ve done for your country?
“I can’t even begin to describe how awesome it was. It was deafening. I got to see a video of it all after. It was so cool to see the players on both sides tapping their sticks.”

I know you’re good friends with a lot of season-ticket holders and fellow fans that got to see your tribute. What did they think of the moment?

“I definitely got a lot of hugs and mentions on Twitter. After the game, all the regulars at the Boston Sports Grille bought me beers. It was an awesome experience, and I wouldn’t have liked to spend it any other way. I love these people. I even got texts and Facebook messages from people from my hometown that were at the game.

Last but not least, how gratifying was it to finally see the Bruins win it all just one week later?

“I was back at my usual spot at the Sports Grille on Canal Street, and it was definitely the place to be after they won the Cup. It was such a long wait after being disappointed for so many years. I’m not going to lie, I cried. I was just so extremely happy.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com