Murph’s Musings: Boston Still And Forever Strong

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Boston Strong

MBTA transit police officer Richard Donohue who was wounded in the post marathon bombing shootings waves a Boston Strong flag before game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

A year ago today I was driving home from Montreal to Boston. It was a beautiful day for a ride and the further south I traveled on Interstate 89 and then Rte. 93 the temperature rose and rose. I stopped at one of my go to pit-stops on this ride I’ve driven so many times, a Market Basket in Hooksett, New Hampshire. On the TV in the cafe area they had the Red Sox game on with intermittent shots of the Boston Marathon and the crowd starting to build at the finish line. Memories of good times I spent there flowed through my mind and I also thought about my good friends Lucas Carr and Jen Marchio who were once again running the marathon and doing their part to honor this longtime Boston tradition and raise money for charities on what appeared to be another glorious Patriot’s Day in Boston. I looked at the clock and realized I’d have time to maybe get home, get my suits at the dry cleaners, shower and maybe go meet some other friends I knew celebrating down at The Forum Bar and Restaurant near the marathon finish line on Boylston St. before heading over to TD Garden to cover the Bruins-Senators that night. I gathered my stuff, got in the car and continued the trek back to Somerville, MA where I was living at the time.

I arrived back in Somerville at around 3:40 PM, went in and grabbed my suits at the dry cleaners in Davis Square, got back in my car and headed back towards 93 where I lived. But as I started to drive my phone started buzzing like crazy. Almost to the degree it had on events like the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup in 2011 or any NHL trade deadline I’ve ever covered as a reporter. I stopped at a red light and picked it up to see what could possibly be going on that warranted so many texts and calls? “Are you OK Murph? Thoughts and prayers and hoping you and your yours are safe” read the first text. The next ten or so said pretty much the same. ‘What was going on?’ I thought. Immediately as I turned the radio on to find out I looked over to my right and saw people in running outfits coming out of the stairwell to the subway station at the corner. They were covered in blood. Sarah Hughes of WBZ was on the air, describing what could only be described as carnage in front of her and in that moment the horror of what had just happened at the Marathon hit me. I wasn’t even there and wasn’t witnessing what she and so many were but I stood at that light paralyzed and tears began to flow down my face. I simply can’t imagine what it was like to see or experience first hand. For those that did, you have my ultimate admiration for your courage and perseverance.

I immediately started calling my family and those that I knew who were likely there at the finish line of the marathon when the bombs went off. Thankfully I’d later find out that they were all safe. Finally I started to drive and went straight home to turn on a TV I’d be glued to for the next four days until the two monsters that committed this horrible act were brought to justice. I remember watching the horrifying clips on the news with my roommate Dave and just thinking back to 9/11 and that feeling that our country was under attack. But this time it was my city. Our City. The rest of that day, the week and even months were surreal. But they were also a reminder of how good people can be and how much sports can unite in a time of despair. Two days later I stood in the TD Garden press box before the Bruins-Sabres game and despite having covered so many wonderful moments since my first day as Bruins reporter — which ironically was on September 11, 2001 — I was part of the most memorable and moving moment of my career. Yes even more moving and memorable than the amazing Game 7 comeback the Bruins would pull off against the Maple Leafs only a few weeks later. The video montage the Boston Bruins put together for the pre-game and then 17, 565 fans singing the National Anthem in unison with longtime anthem singer Rene Rancourt was the beginning of “Boston Strong” and in the following days and weeks the city I was raised in would show their resilience.

Today and leading into the 118th running of the marathon next Monday, the memories — both bad and good — of last year will be on the collective minds of all Bostonians, those who were there first hand and even the United States who stood behind Boston as one in the aftermath of this tragedy. As stated above I had planned to be at The Forum later that day. If I had been there earlier that day, I might not be writing this as that is where the second bomb exploded. But that’s not what dominates my mind today. What does is the heroics of so many who were there. Heroes like Lucas Carr who had already served in war for his country as an Army Ranger and seen similar carnage overseas but after was overcome with emotions when it happened in his city when I interviewed him about his heroism at the finish line when he went from runner to first responder. I think of all first responders, of the victims and of the law enforcement officials who helped bring the bombing suspects to justice. A year later and forever I will remember how we all showed such great resilience. That’s our home. Our city. In the words of David Ortiz, “Nobody dictates our freedom!” As I write this from my current home in Montreal, QC., Boston is and always will be in my heart. #BostonStrong

Carr and Matt Brown — a paralyzed hockey player from Norwood, MA — will once again be running the Boston Marathon together for the Travis Roy Foundation. Please help them in any way you can here. Thank you!

James Murphy is a freelance reporter who also writes for NHL.com. He covered the Boston Bruins/NHL for last 11 seasons writing for ESPNBoston.com, ESPN.com, NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com and Le Hockey Magazine. Murphy also currently hosts “Murphy’s Hockey Law” (Saturdays 9-11 AM ET on Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio and 4-6 PM ET on Websportsmedia.com. He is also a regular guest TSN 690 in Montreal and Sirius/XM NHL Network Radio.