After four surreal days spent celebrating the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup triumph, Scott Bradley landed back home in Abbotsford on Monday afternoon.
Later this summer, the Cup will join him.
"They haven't made any definite schedules yet," said Bradley, the Bruins' director of player personnel. "But I get the Cup for a day, and I'm bringing it to Abbotsford.
"It's like no other feeling in the world. As a kid growing up in Canada, you dream about winning the Cup as a player. But if you can't do that, the second-best thing is doing it in management."
Bradley, a member of Boston's hockey operations department for 19 seasons, played a major role in building the team that denied the Vancouver Canucks their first Stanley Cup in a thrilling seven-game series. Much of the Bruins' homegrown talent – including the likes of Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand – was drafted under his direct supervision.
Last Wednesday, Bradley headed down to ice level after Marchand's empty-netter sealed a 4-0 Boston win in Game 7.
As the final seconds ticked away, his thoughts turned to his father. Bart Bradley preceded his son in the Boston organization – he worked in the scouting department for 30 years, and earned a Stanley Cup ring in 1972. He passed away five years ago at the age of 76, after a battle with pneumonia.
"It was so close to Father's Day, and with my dad being such a big part of the Bruins and him not being there . . ." Bradley mused, his voice trailing off.
On the ice, Bradley waited his turn to hoist the Cup.
"Getting to lift the Cup over my head on the ice was something special," he said. "It's hard to describe. It's like, 'Is this really happening?'"
Bradley joined the team in the locker room, where he sat beside the Cup for a long time and simply stared at the holy grail in disbelief. Then he hopped on the team charter back to Boston – "We were dancing in the aisles the whole way," he said – where he rode in the Stanley Cup parade.
The Canucks were heavily favoured heading into the final, but few pundits would have predicted the Bruins would hold the NHL's most potent offence to just eight goals over the seven games.
"I think they underestimated us," Bradley theorized. "We had something inside us where we weren't going to quit.
"That shows you the wherewithal and character of the players. They knuckled down, and they're champions. It's a great group of kids that pulled this off."
In the wake of the Bruins' Game 7 win, Bradley received upwards of 200 messages from friends back home in Abbotsford.
"I'm still trying to get back to everybody," he said with a chuckle. "I give my friends a lot of credit. They're all Canucks fans, but they were gracious."