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. In Part 1, we looked at the support across the National Hockey League after the Patriots’ Day tragedy. In Part 2 we highlighted the 48 hours after the tragedy and the Bruins-Sabres game. Today, we look at how hockey remembered the manhunt in Watertown and the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombings, one year later.
Nearly 24 hours after the Bruins and Sabres concluded their portion of the healing process, the FBI had finished conducting it’s investigation on the Boston Marathon Bombings. After surveying all the footage through security cameras and other documents, they had found their targets. At their press briefing, they informed the media of the alleged culprits, who were referred to at the time as Suspects 1 and 2.
Hours later, Sean Collier, a policeman at MIT who was working his way up the ladder to be a cop in Boston, was tragically murdered. The Cambridge campus was put in lockdown mode as a result. As the FBI and local policemen were searching for the suspects, the brothers hijacked a motor vehicle and fled to Watertown.
The manhunt was on. A city that had gone through so much horror just three days prior was living another nightmare as then Mayor Tom Menino, Governor Deval Patrick and the rest of the local, state, and federal forces shut down the city and some of the surrounding suburbs.
The older brother was shot to death in Watertown, leaving his younger brother behind. The public’s attention then shifted to law enforcement as they were glued to their televisions and social media, as they followed the authorities in search of the second suspect, who instantly became public enemy number one.
Twenty-four hours prior to the manhunt, the Pittsburgh Penguins arrived safely in Boston for a showdown with the Bruins. With The Hub locked down, the two teams postponed the contest to Saturday afternoon – eighteen hours after their originally scheduled tilt.
The game was supposed to be centered around Jarome Iginla, who just a few weeks prior had chosen to accept a trade to the Penguins over the Bruins. It was supposed to be a day where the usual 17,565 in attendance would greet the long-time captain of the Calgary Flames with jeers and taunts for preferring the Pens. Instead, Iginla’s first appearance in Boston since that trade was put on the back burner, as Boston had a more important wound to heal.
The brother’s messed with the wrong city. Eventually police found the younger brother alive: motionless and bloodied in a boat stored in the backyard of a Watertown home. The terror that Boston and Watertown faced late Thursday night into the late afternoon on Friday was finished. The search for the two most wanted men was over, and the lockdown of the Boston area was lifted. The people of Watertown lined the streets of their city to applaud police as they left the scene of the search.
Bostonians could go back to basics. But they also needed to honor their heroes. It started at Fenway, where Sox slugger David Ortiz proclaimed that “this is our [expletive] city.” The FCC, usually on top of foul language on live television, appropriately gave Big Papi a pass as he spoke from the heart, giving voice to what was in the minds of many Bostonians.
The Bruins and their fans also memorialized that weekend. Another round of anthems from Rene Rancourt was greeted with fans singing and finishing the Star Spangled Banner. Another montage and a moment of silence took place before the B’s took the ice with the Penguins. The next day against the Florida Panthers, the Black and Gold and the 17,565 at TD Garden honored the heroes and their families by moving the “shirt off our backs” day from the last home game – originally scheduled a week later – to that Sunday afternoon.
It was, indeed, another good way to send everyone off on a high note.
A year later, some wounds still remain for the victims and the families of the unfortunate events on Boylston Street.
The Bruins, meanwhile, continue to give Bostonians something to cheer about. Last year, they continued to honor the Marathon heroes by selecting someone affected by the bombings – be it victims, law enforcement, or survivors – as the honorary fan banner captain. There was some disappointment as there were two games away from capturing their second Stanley Cup in three years, but the memories they had in discussions with all affected by the bombings are everlasting.
“It was cool to have all those first responders, the officers and those guys at our games,” Thornton said about last year’s playoffs. “We got to go out and have a beer with them afterwards, a few of us met them and thanked them for everything that they’ve done.”
“We’re not the ones that brought the city together. I think the city brought itself together, showing how strong it was after all this,” Thornton added. “We wanted to perform for everyone here. We just play a game and try to put things into perspective. It was hard to show up to work after seeing what real life is all about.”
This year, the Bruins are, again, one of the favorites to take home the Stanley Cup. They’ll look to give Boston its second professional sports title in less than a year.
The 2014 Boston Marathon will go on as scheduled. This time there will be added security along the finish line for runners and spectators. Regardless, more athletes than ever will be making that 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston where fans, friends, and family will be there cheering them on.
It’s a Patriots Day celebration everyone in the area is looking forward to. It’s a city that was, is and always will be Boston Strong.