Whether engulfing Slush Puppies during explorations of Quincy Market or listening to Creedence Clearwater at backyard barbeques, my childhood friends and I often debated who was "Boston's Team."

The Patriots embodied the work ethic of residents from Revere to Roxbury. The Red Sox symbolized our city's idealism by playing season after season in Fenway Park, the sanctuary of America's pastime. And the Celtics, a franchise with more championship rings than any single team in the NBA, was an icon of an American Empire.

I can't recall, however, any public adoration of the Bruins. Not one.

(At right: The author with his sister, Lindsey)

Behind the bright lights of the NBA, NFL and MLB, the NHL was in the shadows. Praise for the Bruins was outside the vernacular of classmates, colleagues, family and even the beloved Boston Globe's Sports section bylined by Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy.

In fact, the closest my buddies and I ever came to becoming hockey fans was when we watched Disney’s The Mighty Ducks on VHS three consecutive times in a single afternoon. But we did not want jerseys that adorned the names of Bourque or Neely. We wanted a Gordon Bombay. Any dreams of stick and puck were rooted in fantasy not reality.

In June 2011, the city finally awoke when the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. Co-eds from Harvard to Emerson flooded the streets, and soon after, the city had its seventh championship parade in less than ten years. For businesses along the Green Line, Duck Boats and confetti had become more of a cash cow than Swan Boats and tourists. After generations of demoralizing defeats, the sons and daughters of the Bobby Orr era and the grandchildren of “The Original Six” were rewarded for their patience.

But the past year has been different, much different for the Commonwealth. Unlike the Stanley Cup Final two years ago, a Bruins fan today is not only a hockey fan. A Bruins fan is a Boston fan. When the marathon bombings plagued Boylston Street in April, Bostonians yearned for a sense of security, a sense of community and a sense of hope. The Bruins, whether they realize it or not, are helping Beantown in ways unattainable by a celebrity concert or Presidential visit.

Last Friday I reunited with childhood friends to watch the NHL’s Eastern Conference Finals. We witnessed men, adorned in black and yellow, immigrants from Kazakhstan to the Czech Republic, understated and underappreciated, defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins. Surrounded by natives of Westborough and residents of Watertown, we laughed, we cheered and, for the sake of transparency, one friend asked eight too many questions about icing.

When the game concluded, we finally came to a realization resolving a debate that had lasted decades: The Bruins are Boston's Team.

-- Evan Fieldman is the Vice President of Business Development & Legal Affairs at ThePostGame. Born in Framingham, Mass., he is a Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots and (since April of 2013) a Bruins fan.