BostonBruins.com - Before the puck dropped on Tuesday, January 14 against Toronto, the Bruins honored special friend, Sam Berns, with a moment of silence and video tribute.
Sam passed away on Friday, at age 17, due to complications from Progeria, a rare genetic condition that produces rapid aging in children.
The Massachusetts native was a longtime Bruins fan, who was as much a part of the Black & Gold as those who wear the Spoked-B.
On November 9, Sam helped host Progeria Awareness Night at TD Garden, dropping the ceremonial puck, serving as Assistant Equipment Manager for the team, and watching their warmups from the team's bench.
To anyone who met the young man, if only for a brief moment, his charisma was infectious.
Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara knew it right away. The pair first met during Zee's first season in Boston, after a game in which he scored.
When they met, Sam first said to him, "You're the hero!"
"No, no, you're my hero, and our hero," Zee had responded.
It was the beginning of a long friendship.
"Getting to know Sam was a privilege," said Zee. "It started as a slow friendship and then became stronger as we got to know each other more and more. You know, I loved Sam."
"It was big motivation for me, and obviously an inspiration to so many people to see him going through different stages of adversity, and the way he dealt with them, and how positive he was. He was just a huge inspiration and it was really fun to see him being such an icon, and representing Progeria. He helped so much to raise awareness."
"As a player, as his friend, and just a human being, I was honored to get to know him."
On Progeria Awareness Night, Zee and Sam sat down for an interview in the Bruins' locker room, not far from where a "Berns" jersey had hung in its own stall before the game.
Sam was still beaming from the Boston faithful's support for him. He had brought out a standing ovation during his puck drop.
"Having their support was really something special, and I'm not going to deny, I did drop the puck on Zee's side a little bit," Sam had smiled. "I had to do that, I had to put that 'fan karma' out there."
The Captain scored that night, just as he had the first time they met.
"It was always exciting to see him," Zee smiled, when thinking back on that night. "I was always happy to see him, and he had this big smile on his face. It was always fun, and, I love him."
The Garden faithful honored him with a special moment on Tuesday night. But his fan karma? That will always be around.
Expressions of sympathy and support may be expressed using #prfsam on Twitter and The Progeria Foundation Facebook page and/or directed to The Progeria Research Foundation at P.O. Box 3453, Peabody, MA 01961-3453.
Fans wishing to see Sam's inspiration firsthand can watch his HBO documentary “Life According to Sam,” which chronicles his life and the tireless research his mother is doing to find a cure for Progeria.