Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
This edition of Hearsay examines some of the hockey community’s connections to the unspeakable tragedy stemming from the bombings at Monday’s Boston Marathon.
BRUINS PART OF HEALING BOSTON
CSNNE.com remarks a feeling of community and togetherness is exactly what is needed in times of despair, and that’s exactly the kind of responsibility the Bruins are happy to help shoulder less than two weeks away from this year’s postseason run.
“We represent the city of Boston and we want to make sure we represent them well,” said B’s coach Claude Julien Tuesday. “All you can do is go out there and give it all you’ve got. Whether it gives a little bit of joy or excitement to some people, it’s going to take a while to heal from this. We don’t expect tomorrow to be the day that everything’s going to be okay. But you’ve got to start somewhere and tomorrow’s a great time for us to go out there and play our hearts out for all the right reasons.”
This is a city that’s become Andrew Ference’s year-round home during his seven years with the Bruins, and he hurts right along with everybody else.
“You’re proud that so many people are helping out, and you’re happy when you hear back from people that they’re okay,” said Ference. “But you know other people are getting different news. This happened to people that we know, and places that we go . . . so you support them any way you can. In this town sports are woven into this city. In the room today I know a lot of guys feel awful and kind of helpless.
“But I also know they want to help any way they can. [Sports] can bring people together. It’s not about forgetting what happened. It’s about some sense of community where we can all get together and celebrate what’s good. Do those things that are a very important part of this city and this region. It may be trivial to some people, but for a lot of people the sports teams in this town are a reason for people to get together with family or friends . . . and to feel good about things.”
CANUCKS’ SCHNEIDER: BOSTONIANS TIGHT-KNIT GROUP
Cory Schneider tells The Vancouver Province he was heartened by the response in his hometown of Boston.
“It’s a tough city,” Schneider said. “People stick together and they’re resilient. They don’t get knocked down for long.
“They get back up. You’re already hearing stories of people coming together. There were people running straight from the marathon to the hospital to give blood. People doing whatever they can to help, putting runners up.
“It’s great. Getting to know the community can be hard if you’re not from there. But once you do, it’s very tight-knit, close city.
People look out for each other. They take care of friends and strangers. I think you are going to see a lot of that in the next few weeks and months.”
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RANGERS PROSPECT MCILRATH WAS HEADED TOWARD FINISH LINE
The New York Daily News describes how Rangers prospect Dylan McIlrath was walking toward the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday afternoon with family friends when he realized the rest of the crowd was rushing past them the opposite way, “some people crying, in panic mode.”
“I just came into Boston because we had a day off, meeting up with a few family friends, we went up for lunch, parked the car, and we were walking towards the finish line to check it out,” McIlrath, 20, told the Daily News by telephone. “We were around the MIT campus, heading over the bridge, heard a couple of loud noises — which obviously were the bombs — and then there was a rush of people crossing the bridge. We didn’t know what was going on at the time.”
McIlrath said he was about 10 minutes away from the finish line when the explosions went off.
“Every conversation coming back was people who saw something or heard it or were close, so you got the experience of it without actually being there, so it was kind of eerie,” he said.
OILERS’ WHITNEY: SURREAL, HITS CLOSE TO HOME
The Edmonton Journal notes Boston native Ryan Whitney was among those watching the horrific scene unfold Monday on television. But the tragedy hit a little closer to home, given that the bombings occurred in his hometown.
“It was just a really sad day,” Whitney said after the Oilers morning skate on Tuesday. “I watched it for a while, but had to shut it off when I heard that that little kid died,” he said. “He grew up on a street one of my good friends lives on right now.
“I go down to Boylston Street three, four days a week for lunch. It’s just so close to home. You see a scene like that in the Middle East and you don’t think twice, then you see it happens where you live … it’s surreal.”
FLAMES’ WEISBROD: BOSTON’S PERSONALITY WILL SHINE THROUGH
The Calgary Sun points out that having spent four years of college in Boston and six years working for the Bruins, John Weisbrod has a sense of Beantown. T he Flames assistant GM believes the traits of Boston will soon come through to the world.
“Besides the horror of it all, I think about the way it affects the city because of the personality of the city. I’m originally from New York, and with 9/11, you saw a bit of the makeup of New York with how it reacts to tragedy.
“Boston is a unique place. Boston is a really family-oriented, deep-rooted city. They’re really proud and take things personally.”
FLAMES’ STEMPNIAK: BEYOND WORDS
Also from The Calgary Sun, Lee Stempniak lives a 10-minute walk from the site of the blasts.
“It’s beyond words for me,” Stempniak said. “That’s home. All those places are familiar to us. To have that happen is awful. It’s tragic.
“Marathon Monday is such a Boston tradition and a fun day, so for something like that to happen is really sad.”
SABRES’ GERBE: “EMBARRASSING FOR OUR WORLD”
The Buffalo News observes Sabres winger Nathan Gerbe, a former Hobey Baker runner-up at Boston College, had a look of shock.
“You know exactly where it is. I’ve walked past there I couldn’t even tell you how many times,” Gerbe said. “At times for yourself, you thank God for keeping you safe. But something like this happening is embarrassing for our world to affect innocent people and innocent children. Sad.”
Steve Ott, who has a 5-year-old daughter, said he was touched deeply by the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard in the blast.
“It’s horrific. Obviously life doesn’t make sense sometimes,” Ott said. “… The stories that are coming out of that incident are just horrible.”
WINGS’ BABCOCK: “ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU SICK”
The Detroit Free Press passes along that the bombings at the Marathon hit home for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who said his wife has previously run in a marathon.
“The whole thing is enough to make you sick,” Babcock said. “It’s hard to believe something like this could be caused by human beings, because no human would be involved in something like this.”
RANGERS’ GILROY: “BRINGS ME RIGHT BACK TO 9/11”
The New York Times details how Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy, 28, spoke at length about his memories from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“It brings you back, being from New York, to 9/11, the people I knew who lost people there,” he said to a small group of reporters. “Devastating. Especially all the firemen. I just knew so many people from being there, as you probably did. It really hits home when stuff like that happens.
“When I think of bombs, I think of 9/11. I remember trying to get in touch with my dad in high school. He was right there. He used to work in Jersey City. We had Nextel and it never worked, and it worked that day. ‘Where are you? Where are you?’ The second plane had just hit, and he just ran.
“Speechless, just like that day. I remember going to school in Manhasset, you could see the smoke forever. There was one hill where you saw the smoke from 9/11 – it hit your stomach every day. You guys being from New York, you know. That was just horrible, horrible. Funeral after funeral. You’d go by a church, and every day, a funeral.”
Gilroy has lost family members, including a younger brother who died at 8.
“Thoughts and prayers are really with those families for sure – I said prayers last night right away,” Gilroy said. “I know how special life is. That feeling of loss, it stays with you forever. But that innocent people went out like that, there’s no words.”
FLYERS’ LAVIOLETTE: “IT’S JUST DEVASTATING”
The Courier-Post reports Flyers coach Peter Laviolette grew up near Boston. His sister attended the Boston Marathon. She was okay, but Laviolette was shaken.
“It’s terrible,” Laviolette said Monday night. “It really is. My family’s from there. My sister was there. It’s just devastating. You read the reports, and I’m sure it’s probably going to get worse and more gruesome as it unfolds. It’s just a real tragic event that happened.”
CANES’ ERIC STAAL: “CHERISH EVERY MOMENT”
Canes captain Eric Staal, via The Raleigh News & Observer: “You really feel for the victims and their families. It’s sad to see and scary to think you can go to a sporting event and something like that can happen. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the families and their friends who are dealing with these things.
“Anything can happen at any time. As anyone knows, life is short and you have to cherish every moment. When there are situations like that that happen, when it’s so out of your control and so real. Really, it’s scary.”
PANTHERS’ SANTOS: “AN INTERNATIONAL TRAGEDY”
The Sun-Sentinel indicates Panthers assistant General Manager Mike Santos is a Boston native, and was on the phone most of Monday night and Tuesday inquiring about relatives and friends.
“I worked for the Islanders during 9-11, so while not the magnitude, it was eerily similar in that I couldn’t get through on the cellphone,” Santos said. “My mother used to take us to the marathon. This is an international tragedy, but really personal for [Bostonians].”