In the first sporting event since Monday's bombing, Boston fans show the city's strength.
Photo: Jim Rogash / Getty Images Sport | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
Boston fans are known for a lot of things: resiliency, stubborness, pink hats, toughness, passion. So it should come as no surprise that at last night's game between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres -- the first sporting even in Boston since the Marathon tragedy on Monday -- the crowd at TD Garden made it count.
The pre-game singing of the "The Star Spangled Banner" started as usual, with Rene Rancourt raising his voice, but then he lowered his mike, and the crowd came in, 17,565 strong. It was an emotional moment, and even in a crowd of grizzled hockey fans and players, the tears were flowing as the anthem ended with the fans chanting "U-S-A" and "Boston Strong" in unison.
"It was definitely giving every guy goose bumps on the ice, and I'm sure throughout the building," said Bruins forward Brad Marchand after the game. "You really see why Boston's such a special city. Everyone's come together and united through all this, and tonight's another example of it. You're out with thousands of people you don't know but it's like we're all one."
Sports have long provided catharsis in the wake of tragedy — think of the way America rallied around the usually-hated Yankees' World Series push in 2001 — and as the Bruins make their bid for the Stanley Cup, the Celtics begin their playoff run against the Knicks this weekend, and the Red Sox continue the stellar start to their season, you can be sure all Boston's teams, and the city itself, will have a lot of people rooting for them.
"I think when something tragic happens, people want something to believe in," said Marchand. "It could be such a little thing, but people take time out of their lives to watch us, and our job is maybe give a little inspiration or whatever it is, give people something to rally behind. We took a lot of pride in that tonight. We know that that's our job: Even if it's a couple hours where people get their minds off what's going on, that's what we want to do. We want to give them something exciting to watch and to enjoy, and just try and help any way we can."