Flyers paying tribute to Boston

ASSOCIATED PRESS Boston goalie Anton Khudobin warms up in front of a fan holding a sign of support before Saturday's Bruins-Penguins game.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Boston goalie Anton Khudobin warms up in front of a fan holding a sign of support before Saturday's Bruins-Penguins game.
Posted: April 24, 2013

MIKE KNUBLE spent parts of five seasons with the Bruins. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette grew up in Massachusetts and his sister was a spectator at the Boston Marathon last Monday.

The horrifying events of last week hit home with every member of the Flyers - be they Canadian, Czech or Swede.

"I've been up and down [Boylston] street a hundred times," said Knuble, the Flyers' lone American Olympian. "You see the fronts of the restaurants - I know exactly where that's at. I've been to the race before. I've done the walk from Fenway to downtown. I have a very good idea visually where everything was happening."

While the pain is still fresh, the Flyers hope to play a small part in helping provide Bostonians with a sense of normalcy - even if for only 2 1/2 hours - when they host the Bruins on Tuesday night.

The Flyers will pay tribute to the victims, honor the first responders and raise money for both with the use of commemorative patches on their jerseys, a postgame auction and the donation of "50/50" raffle funds.

"Anytime you can support something like that, you do it," Claude Giroux said. "Boston is a great city, and you never want to see something happen like that."

The terror attack also injured one of the Flyers' own, as lifelong fan Jeff Bauman tragically had both of his legs blown off near the finish line. While hospitalized, Bauman helped the FBI identify one of the two suspects, since he caught a glimpse of the suspect dropping a bag near him before the explosions.

Bauman's father was raised in the Philadelphia area.

Only 27, Bauman faces a long road to recovery. Flyers fans are banding together, collecting gear and memorabilia for Bauman at Saturday's Philly Ink autograph signing at the Granite Run Mall. Bauman's co-workers at Costco already raised $360,000 online for his rehabilitation costs.

The senseless violence also has caused the Flyers' players to wonder about their own safety. Aside from the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta, last week marked the first terrorist attack at a major sporting event on American soil.

"You don't sit on the bench and think about it until it happens," Knuble said. "That's scary. As a player, you hope an evacuation plan is in place. At home games, you've got wives and kids in the stands. It would probably be smart as a player to have a backup plan with your wife, just so it's not out of the blue with 20,000 people trying to get out of an arena at once."

Security has been beefed up in stadiums and arenas, including at the Wells Fargo Center. At last week's game in Montreal on the night of the bombing, security examined trunks of cars in the parking lot for suspicious materials.

As long as there are 20,000 or 70,000 people huddled in one location, stadiums and arenas always will be a target for terrorism.

"We don't go into it thinking it could happen," Danny Briere said. "Sporting events are one of the easy ways to have a bunch of people together. It's sad that people have to go to that place and try to hurt people, but that's the world we live in."

There have not been more emotional moments in sports since Sept. 11, 2001, than when Bruins fans banded together at TD Garden last Wednesday to sing the national anthem in unison. The Bruins' first game back was far from normal. But when the lights went up and the puck dropped, a city gripped by grief could at least return to a more simple time - even if only for a few hours.

"Sports play a big role in that," Knuble said. "The teams are a great distraction. It's nice that they have three teams [Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox] going on right now. It gives them something else to look at and think of besides driving around the city with streets barricaded and emergency vehicles."

Slap shots

Defenseman Kent Huskins skated for the first time since suffering a Grade III concussion on April 15 in Montreal. The Canadiens' Ryan White was suspended five games for the hit. Huskins acknowledged he lost consciousness on the play, but does not have headaches, and there is a "definite chance" he could return for one of the final three games this week . . . Jody Shelley, who had hip surgery in February, also skated for the first time with the team . . . The Flyers recalled their maximum of four players from Adirondack: Jason Akeson, Tye McGinn, Matt Konan and Scott Laughton. Of the four, Laughton is unlikely to play, since one more NHL game would burn a year off his entry-level deal, which can slide until next season.


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