The senseless acts of violence that shook Boston earlier this week forever altered the lives of those involved and caused physical and emotional pain for those looking to celebrate a festive rite of passage of the early spring in the Northeast.
In honor of the three who died and the scores injured, the Los Angeles Kings will hold a moment of silence prior to the start of tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Though over 3,000 miles away, there are deep ties to the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts within the Kings locker room and hockey staff.
Born in Holyoke and raised in nearby Ludlow, General Manager Dean Lombardi is a native of Western Massachusetts. Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford was drafted by the Boston Bruins and played in front of home fans at both the Boston Garden (1985-87) and the Fleet Center (1995-97), now known as TD Garden. Mike O’Connell, Pro Development and Special Assignments, spent six seasons as a defenseman with the Bruins and served as the team’s general manager from 2000-06. Head Athletic Trainer Chris Kingsley grew up in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
Groomed in nearby Manchester, N.H., Kings prospects often spend off-days in Boston and are known to make the one-hour drive down for sporting events, concerts and recreational activities.
“When I heard about what happened, my first thought was ‘Jeez, Monday.’ Guys had days off usually in Manchester,” Jake Muzzin said. “Make sure no one was injured or affected by it.”
Both Muzzin and Jordan Nolan referenced prospects Brandon Kozun and Justin Johnson frequently making the most of their off-days in Boston. Slava Voynov recalled eating dinner at Atlantic Fish, mere feet from where the second bomb was detonated. Had he still been a member of the Manchester Monarchs, Kings rookie Tyler Toffoli was considering making the drive south for the Boston Marathon with his girlfriend.
“She’s a big runner, and she wanted to go there if I was still there, so it was a pretty crazy turn of events,” Toffoli said. “I don’t know why anybody would want to do something like that.”
Toffoli’s sense of bewilderment seemed to encapsulate the feeling of the dressing room two days after the attacks occurred.
On Monday, the team learned about the incident as it began boarding the team charter at LAX. By the time the plane landed in San Jose, a greater understanding of the scope of the events began to set in.
A native of Medford, Assistant Equipment Manager Dana Bryson grew up just north of the Boston city limits and still has family in the area. His brother was at the Red Sox game earlier in the day and was four blocks away from the marathon’s finish line when the blasts occurred.
“It’s so far away, but yet so close at the same time,” said Bryson, who said that members of the equipment staff were planning on wearing shamrock pins on the bench tonight, as provided by Bob Halfacre, who also handles the team’s equipment needs.
Boston College graduate Rob Scuderi recalled the marathon as a familiar event that bonded the city in the early spring, one that he had taken part in as a spectator.
“Of course in college you’re not necessarily going out to see the runners – you’re just there for the experience and to have a good time with your friends. But it was always a great day,” said Scuderi, a graduate of Boston College.
Like many others affiliated with the team, he too had family in the area.
“Not one of the ones affected, but certainly your hearts are heavy for the people that were.”