This week, Bruins Daily remembers the one-year anniversary of the tragic events surrounding the Boston Marathon Bombings and hockey’s role of helping the healing process. Today, in Part 1, we look at the support across the National Hockey League after the Patriots’ Day tragedy.
On April 15, 2013, a cool, crisp feeling was in the air. It was Marathon Monday and Boston was giddy for another promising Patriots’ Day. Many Bostonians have the day off to celebrate their local heritage. Public schools around the area begin their school vacation weeks on this day.
All was supposed to go as planned starting with the several thousand runners who began their 26.2 mile track to the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square in the town of Hopkinton. Just two stops up on the green line stood Kenmore Square, where some celebrate their day with a 11 am Red Sox game. The day was supposed to finish across town where the Boston Bruins were to drop the puck against the Ottawa Senators in a late season matchup.
As the hours ticked from the start of the Marathon, Mike Napoli delivered a walk-off double off of Tampa Bay Rays’ pitcher Joel Paralta to give the Sox a thrilling 3-2 win on Yawkey Way. Just a couple of blocks away on Boylston Street, many of the elite runners made their way to the finish line, while thousands more who had trained relentlessly were cheered on in pursuit of completing a dream fulfilled with cheers and smiles along the way.
Other runners, however, never made their way to the finish line, where a loud explosion could be heard all across the city. From that point on, Bostonians were in full panic mode. Bodies were laying helplessly in hopes of survival. Some fighting for their lives. Some fortunate enough to seek help from law enforcement, medics, pedestrians, and other volunteers.
The images are still in some hearts. Those images were too powerful to overcome on that Patriots’ Day. Because of that, the Bruins-Sens tilt was postponed.
What was supposed to be a routine day of celebration was everything but that. The 20 men on the Black and Gold who were preparing their day as normal, that began with the morning skate, were as shocked as everyone in the city. Hockey, was the last thing on their mind that night.
As Boston prepared to heal the wounds, other cities were all willing to help. It started in Toronto where a moment of silence was dedicated to the victims and the people in Boston. One province over, the Montreal Canadiens and their fans at the Bell Centre, put their rivalry with the Bruins aside with another fine display of sportsmanship and sent their thoughts and prayers with a montage, a moment of silence and two great anthems.
One time zone over, the Phoenix Coyotes were preparing for a road matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Their star defenseman, Keith Yandle, paid tribute the only way he knew how.
Still, it was a tough day for Yandle trying to get a hold of his loved ones. More So, it was difficult to contact his brother, who happened to be in Boston that day.
Martin Richard, an 8-year old boy who bled Black and Gold, was one of the four people who unfortunately lost his life due to the tragic bombings. Yandle wanted to pay tribute to Richard, who was from nearby Dorchester.
During warmups, Yandle wore a jersey paying homage to Richards. The image is still powerful to this day. The howling wolf was there as usual on the front of his uniform. The back of it was the number 8 with “Martin Richards” displayed above it.
The gesture, the healing and the moment were all put into one.
“It was great, especially to do it in a city like Chicago where sports is such a big part of that city,” said Yandle, who returned home to meet the Richards family a few months after his famous image. “Just thinking about them, it was something that I wanted to do to let them know that way. And then being able to bring the jersey to the family this summer was a huge day for me. I got to meet them and I left their house definitely a better person.”
After warmups, Chicago did its part to honor Boston. It began with a moment of silence followed by Jim Cornelison singing the Star Spangled Banner. As usual, Blackhawks fans drowned the moment cheering throughout the song created by Francis Scott Key at the “Madhouse on Madison.”
Surely, Yandle was all emotional throughout that contest, one that his team won 3-2 in a shootout. By the end of it he, and his friends and family from thousands of miles away, appreciated his support.
“I got a lot of text messages and phone calls after that game of people appreciating it and people taking notice to it,” Yandle recalled. “It’s something that you do not knowing what to expect from it, but to get a lot of positive feedback from it was a great thing for me and to be able to do that.”
When the night was over Boston’s friendliest foes and even their bitter rivals in all realms of sport stood behind the city, one, by one.