Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn has always said the city of Boston just has a different feel to it.
Typically, the distinction is due to the city’s passionate sporting culture, or perhaps its strong work ethic displayed by its fast-paced, blue-color citizens.
While that still may hold true, neither will be the reason for Killorn’s affirmation of the city when the Lightning visit TD Garden tonight to take on the Bruins.
Rather, tonight’s game in Boston will be emotional for Killorn, who spent four years in the area while playing collegiate hockey at Harvard University.
The sentiment comes as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing attacks last week that claimed three lives and injured over 100 people.
To show their support for the victims, their families and the entire city, Lightning players will wear “Boston Strong” ribbon decals on their helmets for tonight’s contest, and then autograph the helmets following the game to be auctioned off on NHL.com, with proceeds benefiting The One Fund Boston.
The player helmets will be signed following Thursday night's game and auctioned off at NHL.com to benefit the One Fund Boston - to raise money to help those families most affected by the tragic events of the Boston Marathon.
“You know, as players we play hockey, but there are bigger and more important things going on in the world, so when you take a step back to show your support it certainly helps,” Killorn said. “The city itself and the people of Boston, they’re strong enough to stand on their own after something like this, but tonight we’ll let them know that we stand united and that we’re behind them.”
The One Fund Boston was established by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in response to the horrific tragedy on April 15. The purpose of The One Fund Boston is to raise money to help those families most affected by the events that unfolded that day. To date, The One Fund Boston has received nearly $22 million in donations.
“It’s huge to do what we’re doing,” Bolts forward Nate Thompson said. “We have to remember that it’s not only for Boston, but for the entire nation. Any time something tragic like this happens in our country, everyone sticks together, and it’s great to see.”
Despite occurring over approximately 1,000 miles away, last week’s attacks on the city of Boston hit close to home for several Lightning players.
Killorn not only played at Harvard, but also had several friends running in the Boston Marathon on the day of the attacks, and who were close to the finish line when the explosions took place. Furthermore, had Killorn not been in Tampa Bay with the Lightning, he said there was a good chance he might have attended the race with those friends, and that he himself could have been in close proximity to the danger.
“It’s scary to think about,” Killorn added. “Eventually I was able to get in touch with my friends to find out they were okay. Fortunately there were some who still live in Boston, but who weren’t at the race, giving me updates.”
Thompson, meanwhile, was drafted by the Boston and made his NHL debut with the Bruins during the 2006-07 season.
He recalled what made the city great during his time there, not to mention the memories he had of his first NHL game with the team, and the support of the fans.
“You can tell it’s a tight-knit city and the fans are very supportive of their sports teams and their players,” Thompson said. “They’re a fun group, and it was great to be able to live in that area and to be a part of that scene, so when you hear news such as the bombings, your heart really goes out to them.”
Thompson also stated he has been to the Boston Marathon numerous times in the past.
“It’s really just so sad,” he added. “That really is true what they say. It’s the wrong city to mess with.”
Benoit Pouliot can relate to what Thompson said, having spent one year in Boston as a member of the Bruins last season, where he enjoyed a career year.
“I loved it there and had a great experience,” Pouliot said. “I know it will be tough at first, but I think the people of Boston will really appreciate it. It’s a nice gesture to do and I’m glad we’re doing it.”