NEW YORK -- Two commuters stopped at the corner of West 48th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan on Friday, completely shocked by what they saw in front of them.
"That's not the Stanley Cup, is it?" one man, dressed in business attire, asked his friend.
"No, that's definitely not the real thing," the other man responded.
He was wrong. Standing on the busy Midtown intersection was Boston forward Patrice Bergeron, carrying the most famous trophy in all of hockey.
The Stanley Cup was in town.
They arrived at LaGuardia airport at about 7 a.m., and then were escorted to NBC's studios at 30 Rockefeller Center. The three Bruins didn’t have much time to relax. They appeared on an 8:30 a.m. segment on the "Today" show, stood next to the stage for Kenny Chesney's outdoor concert, and then headed inside for a quick wardrobe change.
After slipping on their familiar black and yellow Bruins jerseys, the trio hit the streets of New York. They carried the Stanley Cup about four blocks to the NHL Store powered by Reebok, where they were greeted by more than 100 giddy fans. The morning concluded with Bergeron, Chara and Thomas sitting for a question-and-answer session in the store with fans, hosted by the NHL Network's E.J. Hradek.
"Obviously, we've gotten used to doing all of the media and stuff like that," Chara said. "But it was a really cool experience to see backstage of the 'Today' show, meeting different people like Kenny Chesney, and stuff like that. The reception we got over here was really warm. A lot of Boston fans showed up. We got some great questions from fans and it was just a good day with the Cup."
Also accompanying the players on the excursion was Phil Pritchard, Keeper of the Cup.
Pritchard said he knows how tired the players are, because he's been with them practically non-stop since they clinched Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver.
"Thursday we were out on the town with the team checking out some of Boston's finest establishments," Pritchard said. "I guess we got to bed early (Friday) morning or late (Thursday) night, depending on how you look at it. So are they exhausted? Maybe. But their season's over, and that, obviously, is a relief, and when they win it's even more exciting for them. They've achieved their pinnacle."
Chara and Bergeron admitted they've gotten about four hours of sleep each in the past 48 hours, while Thomas said he got about eight hours in, joking that it's because at 37, he's an old man.
"It takes so much out of you to win the Stanley Cup -- physically, mentally, emotionally," Thomas said. "Quite honestly, everything after the Cup is exhausting, too. When we're playing we're just focused on winning and winning that Cup. You don't think about what's going to happen afterward. So it's the price of success, I guess."
Chara said a highlight of the morning for him was doing the live Q&A session.
Hradek chatted with the trio about their upbringing in hockey and what it was like to win the Cup. Then fans had a chance to ask questions to the players. One fan asked what the team was planning to do with the famed vintage Bruins jacket the team gave to the player of the game after each playoff contest.
"Maybe we'll auction it off and give the money to charity," Chara answered, to a loud applause from the audience.
Another asked what it was like to shave their playoff beards.
Chara said when he came home his wife told him he looked 20 years younger. Thomas -– who trimmed his beard but has yet to shave the whole thing -– began to make fun of a curl Bergeron had in his beard.
Thomas began explaining it to the audience, then paused and said: "You'll see it next year."