Yesterday, with Matt Brown in the stands and in their hearts, the Boston Bruins produced a solid 4-0 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Boston Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron
has befriended Brown, a Norwood High School hockey player who injured his neck in a game versus Weymouth High on January 23rd.
Brown, who spent several weeks at Boston's Children's Hospital, is now rehabilitating at Atlanta's Shepherd Center.
Bergeron, who had previously sent Brown a signed Bruins jersey which bore the message, "Stay Positive!" sought to deliver the supportive missive verbally and in person, and visited Brown at the Shepherd Center on Monday.
"Well, obviously it started when I saw the hit on the news and I heard about him being injured like that," said Bergeron. "Especially playing hockey, it touched me right away and I wanted to send a note to him and send a jersey as well.
"So we did that through the Bruins and it got to him. After that, I just heard that he was sent to Atlanta to get better for rehab and stuff...[and] I figured it was a perfect day to come and meet him. Obviously, we asked and the Bruins have spoken to his parents to make sure that we could come meet him and not bother him in his rehab and he accepted it.
"So I was happy to have the chance to meet him, and we did and it was a wonderful experience."
Bergeron thought he could provide some insight into the rehab process and the patience that is necessary for an athlete to work through the long rehabilitation.
"I’ve been through it," said Bergeron. "It’s not as serious as his condition obviously, what I’ve been through, but I’ve been through similar stuff and I know that it’s hard sometimes.
"It’s hard to stay positive and sometimes you get down on yourself and you get frustrated. It’s something that I want to share with him and make sure that he’s doing better."
"You know, [we brought him] some movies, some stuff from different teams, professional teams in Boston, some clam chowder and stuff like that. So I hope he’s going to like it. Yeah, it’s just going to be fun to have a chance to first meet him and see how he’s doing."
Brown who was ready for the visit, turned hockey reporter on Bergeron in the first few moments of their time together. He asked Bergeron questions about the Bruins - everything from who is the funniest Bruin (Bergy's answer: Shawn Thornton
) to questions about B's head coach Claude Julien's coaching style.
"I was happy to have the chance to meet him," said Bergeron. "I just felt like he was [in good] spirits and he just seemed like a great kid, always smiling.
"He seems like a tough kid and his parents seem awesome, they always seem to be supporting him a lot and that’s huge for him and that’s something that you want to see and I just wanted to come here and say hi and give them my support.
"I just hope that everything keeps getting better," added Bergeron. "Staying positive and being patient is the main key.
"I know it’s going to get better."
Bergeron noted that Bruins fans can help Matt in his recovery. A fund has been established at Norwood Bank to help Matt and his family and a gala event is planned for April 30th in Foxborough. In addition, the family has created a website (mattbrownnumber3.org) where people can learn how to help.
"Yeah, for sure," said the B's assistant captain. "It’s something really important.
"Obviously, it is very expensive to have those kinds of treatments and he needs it. He needs it.
"He needs every treatment and he is a great kid. He deserves it. I just hope they can raise money for him and his treatments."
As for Brown, a big Bruins fan, his support of the Black & Gold seemed to do the trick on Tuesday, as he watched from a suite in Philips Arena. Bergeron earned an assist and the B's dominated Atlanta from the drop of the puck.
"His support is going to be awesome," said Bergeron prior to the game. "We really need it right now, especially on the road like that and it’s going to be fun to see them.
"For us, well, it’s a big game. It’s a big two points and we know that we need to go out there and be ready and to have them at the game, it’s going to be something I am going to tell the guys, for sure, he asked me to tell the guys to say hi, that he is saying hi to the whole team so I’ll send the message for sure."
Brown's message worked. Let's hope Bergeron's advice to "Stay Positive" works, too.
Good luck Matt!