When I got the news of Brian Rolston’s return to the Bruins last season, I was hit with nostalgic memories both good and bad. The bad being, it reminded me of seeing Ray Bourque’s last game in Boston back in 2000, but the good was the memories of Rolston’s performance as a Bruin during those first Post-Bourque years.
Brian Rolston was one of the top 6 faces I remember the best from my early years as a Bruins fan. He was my favorite player by-far on the team (along with Samsonov and Jason Allison). Brian Rolston was impressive to say the least when he came to the Bruins in 2000, although he got off to a slow start in 2000-01, 2001-02 saw him score a career high 62 point season and was absolutely deadly short handed. The veteran forward was 13th all time with 33 short handed goals in his career (a majority of those while a member of the Bruins).
Rolston came from a championship winning New Jersey Devils team and an eventual Western Conference runner up Colorado Avalanche before landing in Boston. His leadership qualities saw him wear an A for the 2002-03 season. Rolston (like a majority of his teammates) were left to free agency after the 2004-05 lockout. Knowing Rolston and a majority of my other favorites were gone, I stopped watching hockey and moved on to other things. After coming back to hockey during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, I was very VERY confused by the team in front of me. I remember thinking to myself ”Where is Samsonov? Where is Raycroft? .. Why isn’t Chara on the Sens? When did we get him? Where are those guys we got for Joe Thornton? Where is Rolsto.. oh..that’s right.. it’s been what.. 7 years since I’ve watched this team.” As I began to grow a love for the new Bruins, I wondered what ever happened to Rolston. I had no clue he went to Minnesota, back to New Jersey, and to the Island in the time we was gone.
2011-12 was the first FULL season I had watched since 2003-04. The season went by rather quick, but February 2012 will remain one of the weirdest months in my life for one reason. During the trade deadline the rumors of the Bruins looking to acquire Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi from the Colorado Avalanche were in full swing. I was hopeful we would get them since depth scoring was a strong point at that point. When the deal fell through and they went to San Jose I was certainly angered. Then the day went on, and I looked at my phone and saw “Boston Bruins acquire forward Brian Rolston (RW) and defenceman Mike Mottau from New York Islanders for Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin.” My eyes lit up like a 5 year old on Christmas morning. Brian Rolston was back in Boston, I was absolutely stunned. I never thought I’d see him play in a Bruins uniform again, I certainly thought he had retired or was possibly in Europe. But no, Rolston was back. For the 21 games he played in Boston during his second tour, it was really awesome to get to see him again. I would have liked to see him win a cup that year so he could have gone out ala Mark Recchi, but things didn’t work out.
I first found out about Brian Rolston retiring when I did a Google search on him recently and saw on his Wikipedia article it said “retired American professional ice hockey player”. Thinking it was just someone being naive and not realizing he was still a free agent, it was made clear to me at that moment he had called it quits. In a Buffalo Hockey Beat article about Ron Rolston taking over as interim coach, it revealed that Brian Rolston had quietly retired. This saddens me to no end, I would have loved to see him play at least 1 last game in Boston before retiring, but 1 last season is good enough for me.
Goodbye Rolston, it was a hell of a time watching you play. I’m gonna miss ya man.