By Allan Muir
And that's how you do it.
That's how you show a city's indomitable spirit. How you honor its heroes and remember those who were lost.
The fans who packed Boston's TD Garden for tonight's game between the Bruins and the Sabres let out their grief and pride at once with a national anthem for the ages.
Rene Rancourt, the local singer whose own anthem performances are legend, sang the first few lines of the Star Spangled Banner then, wisely, handed it off to the crowd. The moment, after all, was theirs to serve as a proxy for the heartbroken but resilient city.
And they rose to the occasion, getting louder and louder with a rousing, emotional effort that will stand with Chicago's 1991 All-Star Game anthem as one of the most stirring moments in hockey history.
Well done, Boston.
Before the game, the Bruins ran an emotional video tribute to Monday's heroes and victims.
The final score--a 3-2 shootout win for the Sabres--wasn't the ideal finish for the partisan crowd, but this moment put the evening back into perspective:
According to Steve Ott
, the idea of the post-game center ice salute was put together during the pre-game skate by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
and Buffalo's Thomas Vanek
. The show of unity made for a heartfelt end to the hard-fought contest.