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Bruins hope to help Boston region heal

by Matt Kalman /

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien should've been behind his team's bench trying to devise ways to defeat the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Instead, tragedy struck the Boston Marathon, the Bruins-Senators game was postponed, and Julien found himself at home with his wife and two children.

"I'm going to be honest with you, there were some tears," Julien said as he described watching the coverage of the twin bombings. "You look at how a lot of those people were affected, and you feel for them because who knows, it could've been easily one of the members of your family, or sometimes it's friends that are there. There's some close calls in our group [runners from the Bruins organization], people that were there, and so it's certainly something that was hard for us to watch. But at the same time we care about the city and what it presents, and yesterday was supposed to be a special day, a day to celebrate. And somehow it got ruined."

While the people of the Boston area continued to attempt to come to grips with the fatal attack, the Bruins returned to work Tuesday and went through a battle-filled practice of more than an hour. The Boston Celtics game was cancelled Tuesday, but the Bruins are scheduled to play host to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The Boston Bruins will wear decals on their helmets tonight. (Courtesy: Bruins on Instagram: nhlbruins)

Bruins will wear "Boston Strong" decals on
their helmets tonight.
(Click to enlarge)
Courtesy: Bruins on Instagram: nhlbruins

The Bruins have a chance to do their part for the city in the immediate aftermath by creating a diversion on the ice. They're in a fight for first place in the Northeast Division and there are expectations that a healthy Bruins squad could make a run at a second Stanley Cup championship in three years.

"I mean, hopefully it can take people's minds off things that happened [Monday] at least for a few hours and give them a little bit of a sense of relief to maybe watch us go out and give a good effort," said forward Shawn Thornton, who's one of the few Bruins players who lives in Boston all year. "There's not much else we can do. We can focus on playing. I'm sure we'll start doing some things to try to give back what we can. But as far as playing the game, all we can do is focus on showing up and giving as good an effort as we can."

Added Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs: "On behalf of my entire family, our prayers and deepest sympathies are with those who were injured, lost their lives, their families and the entire City of Boston. I have no doubt that the amazing people in Boston will continue to display great strength and resiliency and we will be there to offer our support in any way that we can in the wake of this tragedy."

Boston forward Jay Pandolfo, who is from nearby Burlington, Mass., has unfortunately been through a close-to-home tragedy like this before. He was playing for the New Jersey Devils when the terrorist attacks in New York occurred Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's the same type of feeling. Growing up, you never would ever think of having to worry about something like this," Pandolfo said. "For it to happen once, back at 9/11, which is something you thought you'd never see. And for something to happen like this again, it's shocking. Obviously it's not as big a scale as it was 9/11, but still to worry about these things in the United States, it's disappointing."

Security will undoubtedly be beefed up at the Garden and other large gathering places in Boston and around the continent for the foreseeable future. That should calm any fears the Bruins have about performing in front of a large crowd.

"You can't really let yourself get into those thoughts or else your mind's not really where it needs to be for a game," Thornton said. "As a professional athlete, you need to focus on what you can control and that's just showing up and playing and trust everyone else is doing the job to keep us safe. I'm sure they are."

Like Thornton, Julien intends to not let anything keep him from business as usual.

"I guess each individual will think differently. I'm one of those people that wants to live life to the fullest. And I'm not going to live my life worrying about what's going to happen," the coach said. "You put trust in people that obviously it's going to be as safe as can be. And you've got to live with the consequences. But the one thing you don't want to let happen is people or individuals or whatever groups ruin your life by living it in fear. Sometimes you have to go out there and make the best out of every situation and that's what personally I intend to do. I'm not going to go out there worried every time I step out of my house whether something's going to happen. And I think that's what great about this country, that's not going to let anybody or anyone put fear in our lives."

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