Penguins strive for the routine during Boston manhunt
BOSTON — Dan Bylsma did not want “to be doing different things” Friday.
Bylsma, his Penguins coaching staff and players as well as team officials and employees, holed up inside a Boston hotel under lockdown as federal, state and local authorities hunted for what was believed to be the lone surviving suspect of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Penguins treated Friday as if it were the first of two consecutive game days in as many cities — a situation with which they opened this shortened season at Philadelphia and at the New York Rangers on Jan. 19 and 20.
“It was the schedule we'd go through,” forward Craig Adams said. “But it was different.”
Head equipment manger Dana Heinze arrived at TD Garden, where the Penguins were scheduled to play the Boston Bruins on Friday night, by 6:30 a.m. His staff joined him around 8:30 a.m. By then members of the Penguins' medical and training staffs also were at the arena.
Bylsma said he and his assistant coaches “got up early … three or four of us went out for a two-block walk to get coffee.” Upon arriving at the coffee shop outside their hotel, across the street from Boston Common — the city's central public park — Bylsma and staff discovered the coffee shop was closing.
That was around 8 a.m., and “we got back to the hotel with a sense this was not normal,” Bylsma said.
About the same time, Adams received a text from Jim Britt, the Penguins' manager of team services. The text informed that an 11:30 a.m. practice at TD Garden was canceled.
“I didn't know what was going on, flipped on the TV and tried to get caught up,” Adams said.
Coaches and players gathered at a hotel conference room around 8:30 a.m. for a team breakfast, followed by a film session. Around 9 a.m., staffers at TD Garden returned to the hotel. Assistant to the general manger Tom Fitzgerald, who lives in Boston, had arranged their move from the arena.
Everyone associated with the Penguins met for lunch between 11 a.m. and noon. Players, coaches and staffers returned to their rooms after lunch, still not sure if the game would be played, postponed or canceled.
General manager Ray Shero spent some of his morning and a good bit of the early afternoon staying in contact with Bruins and NHL officials, who awaited information from the authorities before making a call on the game.
Also, Shero talked with Penguins officials in Pittsburgh to work on contingencies for possible schedule changes to accommodate a postponement of the Bruins game.
The Penguins were slated to play the Buffalo Sabres at Consol Energy Center on Saturday night, and that game was switched to Tuesday so the Penguins could face the Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.
Boston police announced the game postponement just before 3 p.m. Still stuck in the hotel, the Penguins gathered around 6 p.m. for a team dinner.
Adams said he spent much of his day — before the postponement — “trying to prepare for a game” and getting updates on the manhunt from his wife, who “worked the Internet” from back in Pittsburgh.
He never “felt unsafe.”
Bylsma, who spoke with his wife “three or four times before 4 p.m.,” echoed Adams' sentiment.
“Like most people, we were waiting and looking for information as it developed,” Bylsma said. “You're concerned about the situation, concerned about the people of Boston and the city. You watch it unfold, and you don't know very much.”