By Mike Harrington
The stirring national anthem sung by the entire TD Garden crowd and the postgame, two-team stick salute to the fans seem to be the most lasting images from last night's amazing game in Boston.
Home teams routinely salute their fans after a win and the Bruins were no doubt going to do that last night, win or lose. How did the Sabres get involved? Most Boston players last night were crediting Thomas Vanek.
Vanek, along with alternate captains Steve Ott and Drew Stafford, broached the idea at the morning skate with team trainers, who took it to the Boston side. Vanek and Boston captain Zdeno Chara then met on the ice at the start of pregame warmup to finalize the plans.
"Even though they play in that city, it doesn't matter where you're from," Vanek said after today's brief practice in Amherst. "Buffalo, my case Europe or whatever. Everyone gets affected by it.
"We didn't think about the publicity it's getting. For us, it was just to appreciate the people who came. The atmosphere was unbelievable. It's a few hours away from something you have to not think about. It was good for everyone, a good few hours."
Vanek was among several Sabres who walked around Boston Tuesday night and paid respects at the barricades near the site on now-deserted Boylston Street, which is normally a vibrant place full of shops and restaurants.
"Seeing it on the news and seeing it in person is a lot different," Vanek said. "People were upbeat, positive. That goes a long ways."
And like everyone else in the building, Vanek was moved by the incredible anthem started by Rene Rancourt and completed by the crowd.
" It was unbelieveable. It was cool," he said. "It was one of those moments you're happy you were part of it. The atmosphere was electric. Even as a visiting team, it seemed like it was one big happy crowd. It was a good game. It was something I won't forget and I'm sure a lot of guys won't either."
Click below to hear Vanek's interview with reporters today.
taggedBoston Bruins | Thomas Vanek