There was a sense going in that emotions were going to be running high in the Boston Bruins dressing room headed into Thursday night’s two-game series finale against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Sure, they had a chance for a perfect four-game homestand, and they pulled it off with a 4-1 win over the Penguins at TD Garden. But this was about so much more than hockey. This was about a New England hockey community that always comes together to take care of each other in moments of need, and the Boston Bruins have become part of that tight-knit, protective hockey family. Bishop Feehan hockey player and Rhode Island native AJ Quetta faces a long road ahead after suffering a significant spinal cord injury following a head-first crash into the boards earlier this week.
A GoFundMe was set up by his family and has raised over $500,000 and counting to support hospital and care costs for the teenager, the Bruins Foundation has pledged at least $100,000 to the family and the Boston Bruins players made sure that Quetta knew they were thinking about him.
“Despite these tragic circumstances, it makes my family and the Boston Bruins organization very proud to see such an outpouring of support from the New England hockey community,” said Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “A.J. and his family should know that they are not alone in the journey to recovery, and that we will be with him the whole way.”
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, Quetta’s favorite player, hung the high school player’s Bishop Feehan jersey behind their bench during pregame warm-ups and they awarded the game puck to the young man after the win had been secured.
Tonight was for A.J. pic.twitter.com/48n9U4fmWM
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 29, 2021
The Bruins and Penguins players taped up their sticks with the Green and Gold colors of Bishop Feehan for pregame warm-ups, and are now auctioning off the sticks to raise money for the Quetta family as well. For everybody involved in hockey, the specter of a serious injury is always there. Quetta is a reminder of that and the responsibility everybody in the New England hockey family has to help pick up our other family members when they are down. That’s exactly what the Bruins did before, during and after Thursday night’s win with the promise that more support is coming for AJ Quetta as he needs it on the long road ahead of him.
“We’re all praying for A.J. It’s way bigger than hockey. Such a freak accident. Our whole team is thinking about him, his family and anybody affected,” said Walpole native Chris Wagner, who is as steeped in the New England Hockey family as anybody on the Boston Bruins roster. “It makes you think how fragile our careers are and how fragile life is. We just want to say that we’re praying for him.”
Taking care of our hockey family is who we are as a New England hockey community. It was true with Travis Roy decades ago, it was true with Matt Brown 10 years ago and it was true with Denna Laing five years ago. It will be true with AJ Quetta as well as everyone hopes for the best for the bright young kid from Providence as he embarks on a long road ahead recovering from his injury.
*Old friend Zdeno Chara scored his first goal for the Washington Capitals on Thursday night and the Washington Capitals partied like it’s 1999.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) January 29, 2021
*Matt Grzelcyk is injured once again for the Bruins and it looks like he’s going to miss more time with the latest lower body issue he’s dealing with. (Boston Hockey Now)
*This is a great example of not knowing what people go through on a daily basis. I personally like and enjoy Steve Simmons. He’s a nice guy and it’s always pleasant to run into him in Toronto and Boston. But he obviously doesn’t pull his punches in his writing and reporting, and that draws ire across the always eye-roll worthy hockey twitter. But this column about Simmons’ battle with panic attacks and insomnia sounds like a nightmare and is worthy of people’s compassion and empathy. We never know the quiet battles other people are going through in life, so it’s always best to be kind when you can. (Toronto Sun)
*The Grades are in for the Avalanche win over the San Jose Sharks, and as always FOH (Friend of Haggs) Professor Dater is presiding. (Colorado Hockey Now)
*So maybe John Tortorella did have something to do with Pierre-Luc Dubois wanting out of Columbus after all. (BarDown)
*Got to agree with Marc Spector and Eric Francis that Matthew Tkachuk’s gritty style of play is a good thing for the NHL. The league always needs villains. (Sportsnet)
*For something completely different: I love this story of the Winchester High hockey parents creating cardboard cutouts of the players’ families for the games where spectators aren’t allowed this season. (Fox25)