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Bruins have not forgotten tragedy

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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez previously worked at USA Today, AOL and CBSSports.com, covering beats ranging from performance-enhancing drugs to the NHL. He has also been a finalist for an Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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CHICAGO

Nearly two months have passed since the Boston Marathon bombings, not that it’s far from Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference’s thoughts.

“We still see our neighbors and other people affected,” Ference said during the Stanley Cup Final Media Day on Tuesday. “A lot of us go to visit people at Spalding Rehabilitation (Hospital). We still get together with friends who helped out (in the rescue). They’re still thinking about it. It’s still on their minds.”

Ference has been amongst the most active Bruins players in supporting the recovery efforts from the twin April 15 explosions allegedly set by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The explosions near the finish line of the marathon killed three and injured more than 260 others.

“There are a lot of us that live in Boston year-round,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. “We knew people who were down there or supposed to be down there but weren’t. It was absolutely unnecessary and very crazy.”

While Ference is an Edmonton native and began his career with the Calgary Flames, he considers himself a Bostonian. Like Thornton, Ference lives in Boston full-time. After the Bruins claimed hockey’s top prize two seasons ago, Ference paraded the Stanley Cup in a stroller around Boston.

Wednesday night in Chicago they’ll be going after the Cup again in Game 1 against the Blackhawks. Throughout these playoffs the team has certainly done Boston proud. The Bruins rallied at home from a three-goal deficit late in Game 7 to win their first-round series against the Maple Leafs, went on to dispose of the Rangers in five games and then completely stunned the hockey world by sweeping the favored Penguins in the conference final.

And now they’re here, one step away from the ultimate goal that they desperately want to accomplish for their city after all it's been through.

“Without a doubt, the city is soldiering on,” Ference said. “We want to make sure they’re not forgotten.”

Two days after the bombings, the Bruins returned to TD Garden. (The Bruins were forced to postpone two games overall, the latter as the manhunt intensified.) A slideshow preceded what was an emotional “Star Spangled Banner” as the crowd and players joined Rene Rancourt.

“It was special for sure,” Ference said. “Singing that anthem in the first couple games was incredible. Having all those people together helped develop some positive memories. For the first few days, we had nothing but dark memories.”

Over the final regular season games and into the playoffs, a survivor of the bombings has waved a “Boston Strong" flag before games. (The honor of waving a Bruins flag typically had gone to a former player.) Among those who had that honor was Jeff Bauman Jr., who lost both legs in the blast and was instrumental in identifying the suspects.

That trend will continue when the series returns to Boston for Game 3 on Monday.

The “Boston Strong” stickers on the back of the Bruins players’ helmets will also be a reminder of that fateful day. Team ownership and players have combined to raise $250,000 to help support the victims of the blasts.

Ference said there’s one been constant when he visits somebody whose life changed because of the act of terror.

“To a man, they just want us to win,” Ference said. “That’s all they want from us.”

Tagged: Bruins, Andrew Ference

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