On the Bruins' recent road trip to Buffalo, the team had special guest Maria Splaine along for the ride, thanks to Make-A-Wish. Here, she shares with us her perspective of traveling with the team, in her own words...
Those of you who have ever been a recipient, or have known a recipient of a Make-A-Wish, know just how incredible an experience it is. For those of you who have not, I would like to share my amazing experience with the Boston Bruins.
First, introductions. My name is Maria Splaine. I’m 16 years old, a junior at Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, MA, and currently a patient at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber.
I was shocked to find out that I would receive a Make-A-Wish. I never imagined I would get one. While contemplating what it should be, I decided it should be something that money could not buy, a memory to last a lifetime. That’s when I thought of the Bruins. What is better than getting to know some of the greatest hockey players and the best NHL team? Thus, started the trip that I shall remember forever!
The fun would start right away as I would get to fly with the Bruins, on the team plane! While there were only two seats on the team plane for my dad and me, the Boston Bruins and Make-A-Wish made sure my mom got in on the fun and flew her out separately.
My trip started with a limo ride to Hanscom. With my Make-A-Wish team of Nancy and Kathy waving as my father and I pulled out of the drive, the journey began. I was so excited, but also nervous. Tons of questions swirled through my head. Would it be weird? Would I be able to talk with the players that I love to watch so much?
All those nerves were put to rest as soon as I arrived. While waiting for the plane, I was approached by Zdeno Chara, who introduced himself and said, “Maria, we are so happy you could join us.” WOW. The big man himself already knew my name and was welcoming me. Beyond, amazing!
The flight out to Buffalo was a whole new world. I got to see the whole team dynamic, and the structure of how they travel. I even got to chat with Coach Julien about his adventures in Sochi.
Once we landed, we went straight to the hotel, then out to dinner with two of my favorite players, Shawn Thornton and Torey Krug, as well as Eric Tosi and Kerry Collins, my Bruins host for the trip. I will never forget that dinner; it felt like a family affair, a 3+ hour event with good friends. Who knew that Shawn Thornton was such a foodie? And never in a million years would I have guessed I would ever try beef tartare. Yes, it happened. Thanks, Shawn Thornton.
After dinner we returned to the hotel to turn in for the night, or at least I did. While walking in, we passed the equipment guys on their way to the rink to set up for the next day’s game. One thing that definitely will stick with me is just how hard those guys work. They were always going.
Wednesday started with morning skate. I watched the players workout, then got to tour behind the scenes at the stadium. Also at morning skate, I was able to talk with some of the staff including, Don DelNegro, Derek Repucci and Matt Falconer about their jobs on the team.
Later on that evening, my family and I went to the game. While the outcome was not what we all hoped it would be, it was still incredible. The silence on the bus ride to the plane was a testament to just how serious these players are. The flight home seemed all too short. It was hard to believe that it was all coming to an end. With final goodbyes from the players and staff, I was whisked away back home by the same limo that took me there.
It was a privilege to be able to get an inside view of how the Bruins work as a team. Overall, I cannot stress enough how gracious and generous the entire Bruins organization is, from players, to coaches, to the supporting staff, especially Kerry Collins, everyone went way out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome the entire time. Even the flight crew made sure I was well taken care of. I was truly impressed by how caring each and every player was.
This trip will be one of my most treasured memories for the rest of my life. It truly is an honor to be a Bruins fan. Thank you Make-A-Wish and the Boston Bruins for everything! LETS GO B’S.