I didn’t know what to expect walking into the TD Garden for the Bruins game on Saturday morning. You see, the last time I covered the Bruins at home was on Thursday, April 11–almost a lifetime ago.
Things had changed in those nine days. Boston had changed.
This past week, we’ve felt sadness, fear, pride and togetherness. Bostonians bonded together, remembering those lost or hurt and doing our best to honor their memories. We tried to return to normalcy after Marathon Monday, but we’re sent sailing back into chaos late Thursday night and into Friday. But on Saturday, we could breathe again. We dubbed first responders, members of the armed forces, local and state police and those that we lost, heroes.
We had a nation behind us. We turned to sports to take our minds off of the tragedy, if only for a few hours. The players of the games knew the importance and did their best to honor those impacted as well.
The Bruins took their warmup on Saturday sans helmets, but instead donned ball caps of the Watertown, Boston and Massachusetts State Police Departments. They wore the blue and yellow Boston Strong ribbon on their jerseys while the opposing Pittsburgh Penguins wore a “Boston 617” patch.
I felt it.
The songs were different too. No more Pitbull or Kanye West, but rather Dropkick Murphys’ “State of Massachusetts” followed by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “I Want My City Back.” The Bruins are as much of Boston’s history as the people that live and work in the city everyday. Continuing on from Wednesday, it was the Boston Bruins who were honoring the real heroes.
When I stood for the National Anthem on Saturday, I felt it. The 17,565 (or so) in attendance belted out the Anthem without any accompaniment from Rene Rancourt or Ron Poster on the organ, similarly to Wednesday night’s emotional pre-game ceremony. The “Boston Strong” video montage added in photos from Friday night’s capture of one of the suspects, complete with police officers embracing each other and Bostonians smiling with American flags held high.
I felt it. Everyone else in attendance did too.
There are some things you can’t explain to others unless they were able to experience it, too. I feel like the last two Bruins games were like that.
And here’s the thing: the Bruins lost both games. Their effort wasn’t worthy of a full-60 minute game of hockey and both the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres took advantage of that. Still, there’s something to be said for the way the team bonded together to honor the heroes around Boston over the past week.
After all, it’s just a game.