In a post-9/11 world, when you hear that there’s a huge national security announcement coming late at night on a Sunday, it’s easy to think the worst.

Nuclear? Natural? Asteroid?

National security didn’t prompt panic like this a decade ago. I wouldn’t have called my parents, texted my brother, contacted my best friend. But as I know how many people flooded phone lines to say goodbyes on September 11, I wanted to cover my bases. “Just in case” is a reality now.

A man gave the command that changed life as we knew it and ushered in that reality. So while I wish Wolf Blitzer had asked his White House sources tonight if he could report that we didn’t need to panic, I felt pride when I heard that that man was dead.

Osama bin Laden is dead. It feels good to say it.

It’s hardly an even trade. This is one person, compared to the thousands killed in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania; and the military and civilians killed in the hunt to track him down. There’s a ripple effect that spreads from each of those dead to their families, friends, acquaintances. Then you consider the people living and working in New York that day. The people who enlisted. The people who worried about a draft. It expands out to touch so many.

It feels strange to celebrate a human being’s death. But he was more monster than human. And while I’m not running out to celebrate in the streets, I am sitting on my couch, watching Wolf Blizter break down the military operation, feeling a sense of satisfaction.

It’s nice to get some good news for a change.

There is a new blog that I’ve started populating with posts, most of which have been Bruins-centric as of late (’tis the season). But there was something really nice that happened at the Bruins game tonight, and I thought that I’d use that as a way of welcoming you over.

So, with that, click on over to read “Formerly Firefly.”

My best friend is coming into town this weekend, and I’m taking her to see the Bruins play the Capitals on Saturday night at the Garden. Beth, like me, grew up going to the occasional Adirondack Red Wings game in Glens Falls, so she knows the game, but I wanted to make sure she knew the particular team for which she will be cheering come Saturday.

Beth’s Guide to Boston Bruins Hockey is the result. I present it here to help anyone else making the trip to see the team during the 2010-2011 season.

BETH’S GUIDE TO BOSTON BRUINS HOCKEY

I. The Players: Offense

  • 11 – Gregory Campbell (LW): Soupy. New to us this season (from Florida). Scrappy player who plays on the Fourth (Merlot) Line. He’s known as the Good Campbell in Boston. His father, anti-Boston league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, is known as the Bad Campbell in Boston.
  • 17 – Milan Lucic (LW): Looch. Leading scorer who plays on the First Line. Physical player whose clip of him slamming someone into the glass (which then breaks) is played approximately 700 times during a Bs game – and it’s awesome every time. People aren’t booing him – he’s the Kevin Youkilis of the Bruins.
  • 18 – Nathan Horton (RW): Doesn’t have a nickname, but that didn’t stop him from getting off to an amazing start for the team. Is smiling about 78 percent of the time. New to us this season (from Florida). If he scores, you’ll see a girl hold up a sign that says “Horton hears a woo!” I would like to note that I tweeted that before she made the sign. Lesson learned: Always make a sign.
  • 19 – Tyler Seguin (C/W): The Chosen One. You can tell when he’s on the ice because there’s a glow around his head and angels start singing. He’s also super wicked fast, dude.
  • 20 – Daniel Paille (LW): Just call him Trade Bait – everyone else does. Good player, but hasn’t had much of a chance to fit into the mix this season. I don’t expect him to be here much longer.
  • 22 – Shawn Thornton (LW): The single greatest offensive talent on the NHL ice today. The Human Highlight Reel. The Sniper. The Kevin Millar of the Bruins, and I mean that as a compliment. He’s the consummate Bruin and we love him for it.
  • 26 – Blake Wheeler (RW): Wheels. A 6’5 guy with a nasty habit of playing like he’s only 5’10. Having a much better season than last year and is starting to hit his stride. That said, if the Bruins are ever called for offsides, assume that the guy standing alone on the ice with a confused look on his face is Blake Wheeler. Nine times out of ten, it is.
  • 28 – Mark Recchi (LW): Rex. He’s 42 years old, which is about 97 in NHL years, but he’s still kicking the ass of kids half his age or younger. The elder statesman of the NHL and we’re lucky he’s on our side. He’s a wine guy and swears by two glasses of red wine every day. He’s holding onto a 1970 bottle of wine for when he wins his next Stanley Cup. I love this man.
  • 37 – Patrice Bergeron (C): Bergy. Brilliant talent, one of the team leaders. Fast, great with the shot or dishing it off for an assist. When he has the puck, you feel good about it.
  • 46 – David Krejci (C): One of the three most popular sweaters seen at the Garden any given night (along with Looch and Savard). Young, quick, working brilliantly with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic on the First Line. He’s the reason Section 313 will one day get that “Czech Re-pub-lic” chant going.
  • 63 – Brad Marchand (RW): New to us and a strong member of the Merlot Line. He’s the Dustin Pedroia of the Bruins – always pestering, always jumping in to get the puck. That’s why I call him Scrappy. No one else does – yet. Just you wait and see.
  • 73 – Michael Ryder (RW): Rides. He might as well have been called Casper last season, because he was practically invisible. He’s having a decent season so far, working with Blake Wheeler to become the most unexpected offensive pairing of the season. But he’s a frequently mentioned trade possibility. He’s also our age, so I have a soft spot for him.
  • 91 – Marc Savard (C): Savvy. Traditionally the Bruins’ top playmaker, Savvy was the one who was leveled with that horrible hit by Matt Cooke last season. He’s only just gotten back into the mix, but he’s getting his feet back beneath him. He’s more fond of passing than shooting. I’m waiting for the day he has a penalty shot and he dishes it off by accident. It’ll happen. He also tends to stick his tongue out as he’s playing. I just find it funny.

II. The Players: Defense

  • 21 – Andrew Ference (D): Captain Planet, Firefly. This guy is having an amazing year, which is nice because he’s battled injury in the past. Tends to be paired with Zdeno Chara, which makes him look as if he’s about 4’11. Hasn’t scored a goal since dinosaurs roamed the planet, but we remain optimistic that it’ll happen. When it does, Laura might actually cease to be. But she’ll die happy. He also recycles, composts, and rides a bike whenever he can. He’d be the Bruin most at home in Vermont.
  • 33 – Zdeno Chara (D): Z. He’s the captain of the team. At 6’9, he’s defying physics every single time he skates, but it’s awesome. He has the hardest slap shot in hockey, clocked somewhere around 104 mph. What I’m saying is that you don’t want to make him angry. Logs the most ice time of the team each game.
  • 44 – Dennis Seidenberg (D): Most people call him Sides, but we call him Wardo in 313 because he took over the 44 sweater in Aaron Ward’s absence. One of the best shot blockers in the game, he’s a great denfenseman AND a guy who almost always seems to wind up with an assist when a Bruin scores. He also scored the funniest goal of the season thus far. We like him immensely.
  • 45 – Mark Stuart (D): Stu, Stuey, Tango. A hockey player’s hockey player who plays hurt, dives in front of shots, wrecks the opposition, and still stops in his sensible SUV to sign autographs for people despite the fact that his signing hand is broken. But you know all this, Beth. I’m sorry you won’t be able to see him play this time around. Next time. In other words, my favorite Bruin.
  • 47 – Steve Kampfer (D): Kampfer got the call up when Stu went down. I was psyched because I loved him during training camp. He’s more of a puck-moving defenseman, while Stu stays at home, but he’s already making a great contribution to the team after three games and he’s going to have a great career.
  • 54 – Adam McQuaid (D): Killer McQuaid. Young, physical guy who tends to be paired with Stu when Stu’s not busy healing bones at a freakish pace.
  • 55 – Johnny Boychuk (D): Boych. This guy’s just great. I could tell you about the way he’s a solid component of penalty kills and power plays, or the way he’s physical, or his strong slapshot. But instead know that he’s going to have a wonderful career as a Bruin and I look forward to following him. He’s also a female fan favorite. Let’s face it: Dude’s hot.

III. The Players – Goal

  • 30 – Tim Thomas (G): UVM’s finest product, Tim Thomas is the Black and Gold Ninja. Had the most atypical journey leading to the NHL, won the award for best goalie in the league two seasons ago (the Vezina – pronounced “VEZ-na” – Trophy), had a tough time last season because of a hip injury, and now is back and playing like he’s a solid decade younger. Tim Thomas is the reason the Bs have as good a record as they have this year. He makes me proud to have grown up in Vermont.
  • 40 – Tuukka Rask (G): Tuuuuuuuuuuukka. Hasn’t gotten as much play this season, thanks to Thomas’ resurgence, but he had an amazing rookie season last year. We love Tuukka. You should, too.

IV. The Coach

  • Claude Julien: If the Bruins are playing well, Claude Julien is a genius. If they’re not, Claude Julien should be fired. That’s all you need to know, according to Boston sports fans and radio talk show hosts.

V. The Garden

  • Rene Rancourt tends to the sing the National Anthem. I want him to sing the National Anthem at my wedding – and I’m only half joking. He shows up in a tux, belts out the tune, pumps his fist, takes four steps back, spins around, and walks off the ice. Rene is a Garden favorite and if he’s singing Saturday, you’ll see why.
  • When the Bruins score, the announcement of the scorer and assists is followed with a “WOO!” Learn it, live it, love it. May you hear it many times on Saturday.
  • There’s a guy who sits a section over (to our left) who starts screaming “Let’s Go Bruins.” We clap along and start to chant because, as you’ll hear, it sounds like his vocal cords might snap every single time. We do what we can to prevent that.
  • There are Ice Girls. They show up in skimpy outfits and throw t-shirts wrapped like Chipotle burritos. You’re encouraged to judge them.
  • You’ll be seeing the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin sucks, by which I mean that he’s known as one of the best players in all of hockey. Man, he sucks.
  • Whether the Bruins are winning or losing, the Garden is one of the best places to be. The people who are there, especially the people around where we sit, know and love the game and the team. There’s a lot of heart at the Garden and that heart bleeds black and gold.


The question that’s coming up a lot is, “How are you feeling?”

The long answer:

Imagine a ten-minute span. During that span of time, I shift from:

  • giddy, little-kid-lying-in-bed-on-Christmas-morning excitement
  • feeling of doomsday fear that something’s going to go wrong between now and when I take my place in the pack of 45,000
  • superwoman confidence
  • jitters

Now repeat this, over and over and over again, and imagine that this is how I’ve been – nonstop – for the last week and a half. And add to that things like bursting into tears while watching a photo montage of the 2008 Chicago Marathon, figuring out what I need to pack for the run and for my long weekend in Chicago, and planning for run-related trips for next year. But imagine a great deal of excitement. More tears than I’d anticipated. Lots of water being consumed.

The short answer:

I feel ready.

I recognize that I will not fully appreciate this until later, but I’ll do my best now.

A Saturday morning, legs crossed, one foot pressed against the boards. On the other side of the wood and glass, hockey players circled the rink—tall, bulky, padded black-and-goldfish on skates. They largely focused on their drills, motivated by short blasts of a whistle. But they snuck occasional looks, grins, stick-on-glass taps to the 100 or so of us on hand. I saw my favorite guys. The new guys. The boys, 18 or 19 years old, fighting for what amounts to a roster spot two seasons from now.

The buzz I’d expected to sense during my trip to Fort Myers back in March was finally here—six months late, different sport, right at home in Boston. This is what training camp is supposed to feel like: Players are competing for their spots, proving their worth, while diehards show up with their smuggled-in bagels to sit around, talk shop with fellow junkies, and get sneak previews of lines and pairings from vantage points significantly closer than anything they’ll experience during game play.

I made my way around the rink to take in the view from the other side, feeling my late morning stretch into an early afternoon. My later plans were much more flexible than the Bruins’ schedule, and I was reluctant to leave without seeing my favorite player skate in the second session. No stress in the preseason.

Two subway lines later, I navigated a collegiate crowd I’d spent the past month avoiding. Harvard Square wasn’t as congested as I’d feared it would be. That said, it would still be a few weeks before I’d return with any sense of regularity. But Harvard’s running shop was the easiest to visit on the way home and Mark Stuart had led to a time crunch. I was in and out in seven minutes: running socks, the sports beans that would give me a carbohydrate boost during long runs, and a couple other odds and ends I would never have imagined needing even a year ago.

Two hours later, the socks were on and the beans were tucked into the back pouch of my hydration belt, along with my cell phone, keys, transit pass, credit card, license, and health insurance card.

(Once you’ve cleared at least two hours in your schedule for running purposes, you ought to be prepared for anything.)

The route felt shorter this time. Perhaps it was that I felt stronger this time. I suspected that it was a combination of the two. Regardless, the doubt about whether I would be able to reach the twenty mile milestone had come and gone, replaced with focus and the flood of endorphins that kept my feet moving in time to the Ryan Adams song playing on my iPod. It was my first genuine runner’s high of the season. And it propelled me through Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston.

For twenty miles.

After the endorphin high faded and the muscle stiffness set in—albeit not nearly as badly as I’d anticipated—I sat on my couch, toasting the day with a glass of pumpkin beer and vanilla vodka while discussing how much fun was going to be had picking apples the next day …

… after getting out of work at Fenway Park.

Again, I recognize that I will not fully appreciate this until later. That said, I’m certainly doing my best right now.

Which of the following did I do recently?

A) See David Gray in concert
B) Attend a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
C) Make a family member cry by taking her onto the field at Fenway before her first Red Sox game
D) Skate on the Bruins home ice at the TD Banknorth Garden
E) See Vampire Weekend in concert
F) Attend the premiere of The Town
G) All of the above

Answers in the comments. Show your work.

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