Walk through the building with a pocketful of dimes and you can put them down, one at a time, at the exact spots where remembered events occurred. Here is where the fan ran out of the stands and tried to strangle referee Richie Powers in the middle of the triple-overtime game against the Phoenix Suns in 1976. Here is where Bobby Orr took the final Stanley Cup shot against Glenn Hall in 1970. Here is where he landed, after flying through the air, tripped by St. Louis Blues defenseman Noel Picard. Here is the place bad-guy wrestler Blackjack Mulligan was stabbed in the middle of the ring by a fan. There is the door the fan exited, nobody touching him, nobody catching him, because the police thought he was part of the act.
What little bit of imagination does it take to see King Clancy of the Maple Leafs skating along in warmups as a voice from the second balcony shouts, "We've got a town around here named after you, Clancy.... Marblehead!" Another voice, farther down, shouts, "We love ya, Cooz," as the Celtics guard breaks down during the ceremonies before his final game in 1963. Orland Kurtenbach, not scoring, not playing well early in the hockey season, has been quoted in the morning newspaper as saying, "For some reason, I don't really start to play well until Christmas." Here is everyone in the second balcony, on both sides of the building, breaking into Jingle Bells the moment he skates onto the ice that night.
The Gallery Gods. That was what those people were called. They lived in that second balcony that has been replaced by the luxury boxes. They bought the tickets to the cheapest seats but never really sat down. They hung over the action, yelling their praise or their complaints. See? Here is where a fish landed on the ice one night. Not a fish, really. An octopus. The Gallery Gods: There is where the referee always carried the hats and tennis balls and rubber chickens after he picked them off the ice. The Gallery Gods.
See? This is where Red Auerbach, the former Celtics coach, now the team's president, always lit his cigar. That is where he sits now at center court with whoever is the present owner of the team. Walter Brown, the late and longtime Celtics owner, always sat on the other side. Inconspicuous. Used to walk this corridor when things were going bad. Right here.
"I was in the old Celtics locker room not too long ago, doing a television piece," Heinsohn says. "God, was it small. These guys today don't know what luxury they have. Where they dress now is the Taj Mahal compared to where we dressed."
How small? The room still is there to see, down the hall from the present locker room. Cousy dressed in this spot, Russell over there, Heinsohn there. Each player had two hooks. One shower head served all. Half the time the drain clogged and water covered the floor. There was one open toilet in the room.
"You'd go to give your pregame talks sometimes and...jeez," Auerbach says, "you'd just have to stop."
"We had three things in our trainer's room," Schmidt says. "A tube of Ben-Gay. A pile of hot towels. Three was supposed to be some sort of heat lamp, but it was really a regular light bulb with a piece of red paper in front of it. There was one trainer's table, and Eddie Shore always was on it. The rest of us had to use two big crates, pulled together."
See? The Bruins' dressing room was at the other end of the building. The visiting team locker room was next door. The two teams had to leave the ice and walk through the lobby to reach the locker rooms. Were there ever differences of opinion, fights on the way? Were there ever. Fans could join the action as easily as players.
"I can see it all," Schmidt says, sitting in a loge seat on a quiet weekday afternoon. "A man asked me recently if I ever dream. I'm dreaming right now. I look out there and I see things happening. Games. Particular plays. I'm in that corner, knocked on my butt by Ott Heller, God bless his soul, he's gone now. He knocked me down not once, but twice, and I somehow still have the puck. I get up and score. I don't know now how I did that.