John Carlson had a cousin run in the Boston Marathon a year ago, and the Washington Capitals defenseman recalled his aunt and uncle going to watch the race. The Natick, Mass., native still has friends and family there and called Monday’s bombings “terrible.”
“Obviously I’m glad that everyone that I know is safe, but a bunch of my friends live in Boston and you can’t reach out to them because there’s no cell service and stuff like that,” Carlson said. “It hits home. It should hit home for everyone, really. It doesn’t take being from there to mean anything. Maybe it means a little bit more, but it’s a tragedy.”
In response to that tragedy, Verizon Center and the Caps jointly announced “enhanced” security beginning with Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“We regularly consult with the Metropolitan Police Department, FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security, and our standard policy of bag searches and use of security wands will continue at the entrances,” arena and team officials said. “We also will institute measures that will be readily visible to the public as well as some that are not, but all will add to the safety and security of our patrons. The safety of our fans and guests always has been and will continue to be our top priority.”
Coach Adam Oates played parts of six season for the Bruins, who postponed their game against the Ottawa Senators that was scheduled for Monday at TD Garden. Oates got a warm ovation and video tribute during the Caps’ game in Boston last month, even though his playing days there ended 16 years ago.
“Great people there, great town. I loved it there, I have my home there,” Oates said. “Great to see everybody come to the aid of everybody there. Very sad day.”
Oates said his reaction to the bombings that killed at least three people and wounded more than 170 was like most.
“Our hearts go out to everybody in that situation as we would hope would be reciprocated the other way,” he said.
Even those without a connection to Boston could empathize. Captain Alex Ovechkin said he was “in shock” when learning of the news.
“[I don’t know] what we have to say and how we have to react to it,” Ovechkin said. “People are dying and people are hurt. It’s bad.”
Defenseman Tom Poti, who lives on Cape Cod in Massachusetts during the offseason, declined to comment on the bombings through a team spokesman. Poti has friends and family in the Boston area.
Forward Matt Hendricks said just about everyone has friends who play in Boston.
“Just a terrible feeling, a feeling of, ‘This is happening. This is happening too much, too often,’” Hendricks said. “It’s very disappointing and there’s a lot of emotions that go with it. But to put into words how someone feels, it’s difficult.”
Johansson OK after early exit
Left wing Marcus Johansson was in the Caps’ lineup against the Maple Leafs a day after leaving practice early with a lower-body injury. He took part in the morning skate and brushed off concern.
“It’s games that matters and there wasn’t much left for the practice,” Johansson said. “I felt a little sore, so I just wanted to get off and get some treatment and feel good for today.”
Johansson played nine games after a concussion before missing 12. This is a different injury, and the 22-year-old didn’t link the concussion to a different way of thinking about sitting out.
“I don’t think I have a change of mindset like that,” Johansson said. “You know you want to take care of your body and sometimes there’s injuries you can play through, and sometimes there’s injuries that you can’t play through. You just have to listen to the doctors and our trainers and do what they say sometimes. Sometimes you have to feel for yourself.”
Joel Ward did not skate Tuesday, and Oates did not have an update on the right wing, who missed his fourth straight game with a bruised left knee.