The Day the Garden Sang

Responding to the Boston Marathon Bombing in Hockey Terms

Sometimes, sports really matter. In the simplest of terms, sports are just games, with players going head to head for the enjoyment of fans, to escape from their busy lives and enjoy themselves for a bit. They provide an outlet, where people can consume themselves with the passion of competition, as they cheer on their favorite team, and escape the stresses of real life. However, sometimes, the truths of life are inescapable, even inside a crowded hockey arena.

It is in time like these that sports can mean more. Why? Because sports can bring together a community. They can unite people; men and women, republicans and democrats, city-dwellers and country-folk, sports unite people under one common passion. They bring people together, regardless of background, and unite them under one sport, and one team. Most importantly, sports can heal, and sometimes, that’s something that sports fans need the most.

April 17th, 2013 was one of those days.

Two days prior, on Patriots Day, the city of Boston was struck by unspeakable terror, as mindless attacks unfolded at one of Boston’s most cherished traditions: the Boston Marathon. Three innocent people were killed, and over 260 were injured by the bombings. The entire nation was struck, as people across the United States looked on Boston, with their thoughts and their prayers being sent to those who were involved.

The city stopped. The Bruins, the Red Sox, and the Celtics, three teams that represent Boston’s pride, tradition, and excellence, were all put on hold. The entirety of the city’s focus was given to the marathon, as people from across the community did everything they could to assist their fellow Bostonians. It was a tragic time.

Boston was in a state of disarray. The city needed to start healing, and sought a return to normalcy. That return began on April 17th, at TD Garden, home of the Bruins. Two days after the attack, the Bruins took the ice for the first major sporting event in Boston since the marathon tragedy.

Anybody with substance could have predicted that the Bruins would hold a moment of silence for those who were killed, injured, or affected by the bombings. After all, sports are most necessary in a time of healing. However, nobody could have predicted the true magic – the passion, pride, and strength that unfolded that night at TD Garden.

As the Bruins took the blueline across from the Buffalo Sabres, TD Garden was full, not only of black and gold, but of Red, White and Blue. As the teams stood at their respective bluelines, TD Garden public address announcer, Jim Martin, asked fans to join together in a moment of silence, which was followed up by a heart-felt tribute to those who were affected by the bombings, as well as the brave first responders who arrived at the scene.

After the video, Rene Rancourt, Boston’s cherished anthem singer, made his way out onto the ice, down the carpet on which he walks every night. Little did he know that on that night, his national anthem would become Boston’s national anthem, and a moment that will be remembered, and cherished for years to come.

As Rene opened his mouth to sing the anthem, so too did all of TD Garden. Pretty soon, the entire building, every man, woman, and child, was singing the anthem, creating a moment that was truly magical.

“It was a very different sensation for me,” Rancourt told WEEI. “This was a first for me. I’ll tell you, I’m speechless for the first time in my life.”

“I’m sure that the people didn’t even realize how much help I actually did need. It was wonderful. The sound was carrying me, lifting me up in the room. It was just something indescribable. ‘€ I’m afraid I would have probably broken up a few times during the anthem. I’m not ashamed to admit that.”

“I was very nervous. I didn’t know how — what if you stop singing and nothing happens? It went more than well. I’m just so proud for having been part of it.”

It was an uncertain time for all of Boston. The city had just undergone one of the darkest days in it’s long history, and was in need of something to help begin the healing.

TD Garden erupting into the national anthem was just that. The city of Boston, which was so shaken up by the tragic events, became a national symbol of pride and strength. The news of TD Garden’s magic, which spread like wildfire, showed that Boston was beginning to heal. We really were Boston Strong. The city that had undergone so much was united, in a spirit of healing, under the Bruins.

Sometimes, sports really matter.