Capitals defenseman John Carlson was born in Natick, Mass., a small town 15 miles west of Boston. His family moved to Colonia, N.J. when he was 5 years old, but his ties to Boston remain strong.
His father, Dick, was a defenseman at nearby Framingham State. His cousin ran in a recent Boston Marathon, where his aunt and uncle cheered from the sidewalk.
As you can imagine, Monday’s tragic events in Boston, where three were injured and more than 170 injured in a pair of explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, hit home with Carlson.
“It's terrible,” he said Tuesday. “I think people try to put a damper on positive things and in Boston, that's a holiday for them, first off.
“People come from all over the world to run in the race. People died and people got injured. It really sucks. My cousin ran in it, my aunt and uncle went to go see him and stood right there, I think it was last year. It sucks to think about it."
Carlson, who was accepted to attend the University of Massachusetts but opted to play junior hockey in London, Ontario, said he believes everyone he knows from the Boston area is safe, although many of his friends are without cell phone service.
“It hits home. It should hit home for everyone, really,” he said. “It doesn't take being from there to mean something. Maybe it means a little bit more, but it's a tragedy."
Capitals coach Adam Oates spent parts of six seasons with the Boston Bruins before getting traded to the Capitals in 1997. He had a home there during his playing days and described Boston as a great town with great people, saying “I loved it there.”
Oates said his immediate reaction to Monday’s bombings was similar to most others.
“Obviously, it’s a very, very tragic thing,” he said. “Our hearts go out to everybody in that situation and we would hope it would be reciprocated the other way.
“Very rarely that happens in our country. We should take a step back and realize that and how scary it is.
“It’s great to see everybody come to the aid of everybody there. It’s very sad, a very sad day.”
Capitals defenseman Tom Poti, who was born and raised in Worcester, Mass., and played two years at BostonUniversity from 1996-98, declined to comment on Monday’s events, saying, “It’s a little too close right now.”
Forward Matt Hendricks said the first thing that went through his mind when he learned of the explosions was that America was under a terrorist attack.
“That’s probably the first thing that pops in your head,” he said. “We don’t know who it is, but [the Boston Marathon] is a global event. Almost every country in the world is represented there.”
Hendricks said it sickened him to see an event filled with so many stories of personal triumph turn into an event where lives were lost or permanently altered.
“Athletes work so hard and train so hard to qualify for that race,” he said. “I think out of the 27,000 that entered that race only 22,000 were allowed to finish and that’s very disappointing.
“So many people are not looking to win that race; it’s just a goal of theirs to finish it. It’s one of the World Series of marathon running. It’s tough to swallow. We feel terrible and we’re keeping everyone in our payers and our thoughts and we hope everyone can get through this because I’m sure it’s a difficult time in Boston.”