Game off! Pens-Bruins put on hold
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.
“It was the schedule we'd go through,” forward Craig Adam said. “But it was different.”
Equipment manger Dana Heinze arrived at TD Garden, where the Penguins were 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 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, manager of team services. The text said an 11:30 a.m. practice 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 conference room around 8:30 a.m. for breakfast, followed by a film session. Around 9 a.m., Penguins staffers at TD Garden returned to the hotel.
Everyone associated with the Penguins met for lunch between 11 a.m. and noon. Players, coaches and staffers returned to their rooms afterward, unsure if the game would be played.
General manager Ray Shero spent some of his morning and much of the early afternoon staying in contact with Bruins and NHL officials, who awaited information from authorities before making a call on the game.
Also, Shero talked with Penguins officials in Pittsburgh to work on contingencies for schedule changes to accommodate a possible postponement of the game.
The Penguins were slated to play the Sabres at Consol Energy Center on Saturday night. That game was switched to Tuesday so the Penguins could tentatively face the Bruins on Saturday.
Equally tentative Friday night was the Penguins' return flight to Pittsburgh, planned to depart around midnight Saturday.
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. He never “felt unsafe.”
Bylsma echoed Adams' sentiment.
“Like most people, we were waiting and looking for information as it developed,” he said. “You're concerned about the situation, concerned about the people of Boston and the city.”