The Bruins' two Nomars 

May, 30, 2011

Before the puck is dropped in Vancouver on Wednesday night, let's give a thought or two to those who won't be there for the Bruins.

With Boston's involvement, let's call them Bruin's Nomars. Why? Because when the Red Sox ended their 86-year championship drought in 2004, some thought it was less than fitting that Nomar Garciaparra wasn't around to celebrate it. (He was traded to the Cubs that July.) For years he had been the man at the center of all suffering at Fenway and wasn't able to stick around for the good times.

The Bruins' two Nomars, those whose absences loom largest, are Joe Thornton and Phil Kessel. By advancing to the Stanley Cup finals the Bruins have validated not one vision of the team as it should be, but two: those of former general manager Mike O'Connell, who traded Thornton to San Jose, and current general manager Peter Chiarelli, who drafted Kessel and not to much later traded him to Toronto.

Gare Joyce is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine.