BOSTON — Boston University’s news conference Wednesday began with the usual off-day frivolity and outright buffoonery.
Emcee Dave Fischer began with the factoid that no coach with the first name of David had ever won college hockey’s national championship, a priceless nugget considering the upcoming coaching matchup of David Quinn (Boston University) and Dave Hakstol (North Dakota).
Quinn quipped that downtown traffic had turned the three-mile ride from the BU campus into a “two-movie trip.”
And Jack Eichel was asked to spell teammate Matt Grzelcyk’s last name.
Then a media member asked for a reaction to the announcement that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been found guilty on all counts of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
Suddenly, it felt as though the air had been sucked out of the room.
The frivolous had turned somber as memories flashed back to the tragic events.
“[With] BU being so close to the incident, I know it hit BU hard, but it hit the whole city hard,” Quinn said. “It’s still emotional for a lot of people and will be for a long, long time.
“We’d been having a nice, lighthearted moment here, [but] the moment [the bombing] got brought up, this seemed pretty irrelevant.
“I think it’s starting to give people some closure, now that the verdict has been rendered. No one will ever move on from it totally, but hopefully events like this help the healing process.”
Ironically, Finland native Ahti Oksanen offered the most poignant perspective.
“I’m from a small town back home,” he said. “It’s really calm. Nothing happens.
“It was quite a shock for me when that happened. I was really close to the bombing so I saw all the people running and escaping the bombing.
“It was great to see how all the people in Boston responded. I remember watching the Bruins game on TV, how everyone sang the national anthem. For me, it was just an unbelievable experience to see how people responded to it.”