An important hockey game was scheduled Monday, as the Boston Bruins came home to try to rebound from two losses and keep the visiting Ottawa Senators from threatening to make a run at home ice advantage for the playoffs. However, the game quickly became unimportant and cancelled in the wake of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Less than six months after Mayor Bloomberg was pressured to cancel the New York Marathon after another disaster, the question now is when it is appropriate to focus on sports again.
Sports fans were focused on numbers before the game. Milan Lucic (pictured) had scored just his sixth goal of the year and Bruins fans hoped that would get the 6-foot-4, 220 lb. left handed shooter back to the form of the past couple of years. The Bruins had lost two straight to be stuck at 56 points, as they clung onto fourth place in the conference for the last spot in the playoffs that would guarantee them home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Toronto was behind them with 51 points, and visiting Ottawa has won two straight to get to 48 points, giving them hope that a win at Boston Monday night would have given them an outside chance to still catch the Bruins and take home ice from them.
However, all the sports numbers become unimportant as the important numbers–more than 100 injured and at least two dead on Patriot Day in Boston and a 15-block crime scene on lockdown.
As the city and country mourns the deaths, at some point the tough question will arise about when it is appropriate to turn attention back to sports. At some point sports can rally spirits after a disaster. The New York Yankees finally took the field six days after the twin towers were destroyed in their city on September 11, 2001. A packed Yankee Stadium on that day signaled the American Spirit in overcoming a disaster.
In 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the New York Marathon would go on despite Hurricane Sandy. He was roundly criticized for the decision which would have pulled emergency workers from rescuing storm victims to be on-site for the 40,000 runners who would participate. On November 2, 2012 he reversed course and cancelled the marathon.
Whether or not the Ottawa players will stay in Boston tonight and potentially play Tuesday, or if Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Florida are still planning to fly into Boston to play their scheduled games every other day this week (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, respectively) remains to be seen.