As the Boston Bruins faced off against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night at the TD Garden, the result, more than any other amongst the countless games the Bruins have played in their nine decades, could not have mattered less. The chance to clinch a playoff berth on the line and it just did not mattered. The game was played. The highlight was when Rene Rancourt took to the ice to sing the National Anthem, and he did not even sing the whole things.
For days I have been looking for the right words. I was not in Boston on Monday. I was not even in the state. Though I had friends at the marathon and in the city, some close to the Copley Square area, none were close enough to have to be apart of the tragic scene. I am nothing but a guy who wonders whether or not he would have the courage to stand in and fight, helping the victims after such an event as countless folks did on Monday.
Generally my stance when these types of atrocious acts occur, much like after 9/11 or the shootings in Newtown, CT, late last year, given how little direct contact I had with the marathon bombing, how no one close to me was directly affected, I feel guilty getting too emotional. I like to believe that is for the people whose lives were forever changed by these events, not guys like me who just have to try and process what happened.
This one, however? This one hit me.
Maybe it is because I consider Boston home. I am not a Bostonian by birth, but it has always been a place that is special to me. Maybe it is because it took place during a sporting event. I just do not know, but I was rattled.
The lead up to Wednesday night’s Bruins game, however, helped me shake off the shock and finally process what has been going on around us.
I do not like the idea of using this space as some sort of pulpit. The life of a sports writer is meant to be trivial. A life spent pontificating on and romanticizing the actions of men who are, for the most part, behaving like children. I write sports to get away from the real world.
Yet, while their outcomes may have no greater bearing on the world, sports and the games themselves are not without their significant importance to this world.
In order for something to be a sport, it needs to have two different groups competing for a win. By their very definition, sports divide us. In essence, however, what sports really do are unite us. All of us. And if you do not believe me, just go back and check out the tributes in Montreal or at Yankee Stadium, the “hated, mortal enemies” of the Boston sports fans.
The Bruins were the perfect escape and the perfect place for the city to come together and begin to heal. They are a team that has long since been built to reflect the very essence of a city. The team’s “Big, Bad Bruins” identity is one of a team that might not be the most talented team, the most graceful, but one that is gruff, fearless, relentless. A team that will not back down from a fight and a team that is going to band together in the face of adversity, particularly against anyone who tries to pick a fight with one of their own.
The city of Boston has a spirit about it you should want to embody. Tough. Bitter. Where things are rarely good enough and the winters are not for the faint of heart. A city with a chip on its shoulder. A little man/little brother complex. Not without its arrogance from time to time, but underneath a subtle, yet brilliant and beautiful humility and harmony.
If it is not through the Bruins, the city is best depicted by some rowdy drunk in a bar named Sully, who ends up getting punched in the face for his obnoxious behavior. Once knocked on his ass, his buddy Fitzy will pick him up, dust him off and ask “That all you got?” before they go back to their beers.
Boston is a city whose greatness is embodied in guts and guile, something for which every American should be thankful. I am no history buff, but last time I remember someone slapping the city of Boston like this it sparked a war, those responsible were left embarrassed and one of the greatest countries humanity has ever seen was born.
Not that I am hoping for any kind of military conflict as a result of Monday’s attacks. Merely to use this as a point that if whomever is responsible thinks these acts will go unpunished and that Bostonians will not use this as some sort of point to better the community, they could not be more mistaken.
The only thing they are gong to prove is how tough Boston can be.
“I’ve never been to a more proud city. They call themselves Massholes for a reason,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who has made the city his year round home since being traded to the Hub in 2007. “It’s tough. It’s brash. Probably thump our chest a lot. I think it’s endearing a little bit.
“There’s a really high bar here that’s set by not only the sports teams and what people demand of us, but also in life. People that are in the hospitals and people that are in the schools and in the universities here, that bar is set so high here and people are always pushing to do as much as they can and be as good as they can. They’re tough as nails and pretty stubborn people. I don’t think something like this is going to knock too many people back too far before they come together even more.”
Evil is a sad reality of this world. We will never know why it exists and while we as a society will continually work to stop it that will not stop it from happening. As I sit and reflect on the past few days, however, part of me thinks that if things like Monday’s atrocious acts have to occur, it could not have happened in a better city. Boston’s attitude and how the city already has and will continue to rally around the bombings will show how little power these evil acts have over the good in this world.
How the arrogant, cowardly actions of one or two villains called to arms 100’s, if not 1,000’s of heroes. There were the runners who completed their 26.2 miles and then ran a few more to the various hospitals around the city to donate blood. The military personal, participating in the marathon while fully outfitted for charity, who flipped the switch and sprung into action as soon as the blasts occurred, despite any fatigue they may have felt after traversing all those miles carrying all of their gear. Police, fire and rescue personal that responded to the scene, not to mention the runners and spectators who were not hit by shrapnel and did what they could to help those that were get to safety. Their actions are really what should make our reflection over the last few days breathtaking.
It was another disappointing third period collapse for the Burins, as they lost in a shootout, 3-2. Rene Rancourt and the five minutes just before puck drop made it all worthwhile. So did the stories of how Bruins players took some of the first responders who were celebrated at the TD Garden out drinking afterwards. I can only imagine how it will be when Jack Edwards gets to do his first broadcast at Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And it will not be long before we can make the jokes about how things must be back to normal as the Bruins blow another lead.
Boston will take its punch and feel the sting. Boston will bleed, but Boston will not forget. Boston will not be broken.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.