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Heartbreak, Hockey, & Healing


The next two days are going to be awesome, and, quite frankly, I don't care if the Red Wings win or lose tonight or tomorrow. It really doesn't matter all that much to me in the grand scheme of things. With that said, of course, I WANT them to win, but the results of these games aren't going to ruin my "weekend."

You may have noticed the last few morning skates over the last 10 days haven't had a paragraph written by me. Well, it's been a hellacious week and a half and I really didn't have much to say about the game of hockey or the Wings. For those who don't know, I live in Boston. I'm pretty sure unless you live under a rock or were in the Caribbean for a week, you are well aware of what has happened to my city recently. I'm not going to single myself out. Everyone from this city has a story and knows people who were in the race and were impacted one way or another by the tragic events at the marathon. But, I have this forum and the opportunity to share my story, so I will. It's kind of therapeutic writing for me. So if you're only looking for some hockey news and Red Wings talk, you're at the wrong post. Go click on something Graham or Michelle wrote (and if you're looking for dick and fart jokes, J.J. has a few posts somewhere on this site too).

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Marathon Monday was supposed to the best. I had media credentials for the race. I was excited. I'm a runner and have complete two marathons myself (albeit it very, very slowly). I had multiple friends running Boston. It's easily one of the best days of the year in this city. Red Sox baseball in the morning along with the marathon and, usually, a Bruins game the same night down at the Garden. It's just a day long celebration.

Sadly (at the time), the night before the event I was pulled from going to the marathon. We had a staffing issue at work and I was needed that night in the studio instead. The credentials were still mine though and I was oh so freaking close to heading down to the finish line anyway the next morning to watch my friends finish. After hitting snooze on the alarm clock a few times, I decided last minute to avoid the traffic and dealing with the hassle of parking and just stay home. It's one of the few times in my life that laziness has truly benefited me.

It was still all a bone chilling experience. I was driving down Storrow Drive parallel with the finish line when the bombs went off. You hear a noise, but there's a lot of traffic and you don't think much off it. Then you get to work and everyone is huddled around the TV at their cubicles. Thankfully, my friend from Michigan finished an hour and a half before the bombings. My friend from college had just turned the corner onto Boylston Street to see the bombs go off as he had less than 400 meters to go to the finish. You spend all morning tracking him and realize he's on pace to finish around 4 hours, right when the bombs when off. It's like a Shea Weber slap shot to the stomach. Unable to find out where he is for hours after the attack. It literally hurt. Physical pain. Not really sure how else to describe it. Just so thankful for the days he slacked on training so he slowed down the last few miles and just missed the bombs.

Over the next three days, we were Boston Strong. The Bruins helped us heal with a touching pregame ceremony. If you didn't get choked up by the fans singing the national anthem than you aren't human. It's been a joke on the podcast and around these parts of J.J. calling me a Bruins fan. Well, last Wednesday I was. The Bruins didn't end up beating the Sabres, but that night the city of Boston won. The B's brought us back a sense of normalcy. A sense of things were going to be okay. An idea that it was okay to be a sports fan again. Teams and cities around the country were standing by Boston and helping us heal. Of course, little did we know it wasn't over yet.

I am far from a religious man, but first and foremost, I have to thank the Hockey Gods that I was scheduled off work last Thursday. The New England Sports Network studio is located smack dab in the middle of Watertown, MA. Anyone who watched the news last week got a pretty good look into the town I spend just about every day of my life in. If you've followed the story, there was a car chase that ended in a gun fight between the terrorists and law enforcement with bombs exploding. That altercation occurred on the street directly behind my office. I'm talking less than a football field away from the back of the building. The noise was heard loudly throughout the building. Soon, I had 20+ coworkers and close friends on lockdown in the middle of a "war zone."

Soldiers in the building.

Snipers on the roof.

Police taking over the parking lot.

I wasn't even there and it was incredibly surreal. Can't imagine how my friends felt with the crazy terrorist sneaking through our neighborhood with explosives.

I spent all night listening to the police scanners and following the local news. Talking to my friends trapped at work. Talking to my friends who lived in the area behind our office building. It was about 7 or 8a ET on Friday morning that just might be one of the most terrifying moments of my life. The police scanner lit up with shouts of "FOUR! EIGHT! ZERO! POSSIBLE SUSPECT IN THE BUILDING AT 4-8-0 ARSENAL STREET"

My heart sank.

You text your friends locked in the building, but ultimately you're helpless and just hope that they stay safe.

When the dust cleared, it was revealed that one of the overnight cleaning workers walked to the building doors and opened them while wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt. He was mistaken for the bombing suspect.

We know how the story ends. The terrorist was arrested in a boat in the area. All that is history now. Boston celebrated. Local cops were heros. The streets filled with joy. The city let out a giant sigh of relief. We carried on. We came together. We honored the brave. We told the world this is our f*cking city and no one messes with us.

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So when the puck is dropped just after 7:30p ET tonight at the Joe, I'm just going to smile.

Two days off work.

Two Red Wings hockey games.

Two days to complete my own personal healing process.

No fear of terrorist trying to hurt my friends and my city. The only fear I'll have inside me is that of the Wings missing the playoffs. I can't wait to be upset because Valtteri Filppula didn't shoot the puck or Kyle Quincey did a normal dumb Kyle Quincey play. I can't wait to yell JIMMAH. I can't wait to drop my jaw because of Pavel Datsyuk.

I can't wait to have the world back to normal again.

Win or lose these are going to be the best games of the season.

Let's Go Red Wings.