SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Keith Yandle was just getting ready to leave a group chat with some friends to take a pregame nap Monday when a series of frantic messages between his buddies alerted him that something wasn’t right on Patriots’ Day in Boston.
He tried calling his brother, Brian, who was at the Boston Marathon with his son, Brian (“Little B”), but he couldn’t get through. As the tragic details emerged from what has been deemed a terrorist attack, Yandle’s heart sank and his stomach churned as he thought of the lifelong memories from that event and the loved ones and friends who might have been in harm’s way.
“One of my best friends finished four minutes before the bombs went off, and his parents were right at the flags where the bombs went off,” said Yandle, who is from nearby Milton. “My high school coach runs it every year, and he was 500 yards away before he was stopped by the police and just started running in the opposite direction.”
But the detail that stuck in Yandle’s throat was the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, from nearby Dorchester.
“He’s from my wife’s (Kristyn) neighborhood, and that’s a tight-knit community,” Yandle said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Yandle remembers attending the Marathon every year to watch his dad’s best friend run, and later to work at the event while he was attending Cushing Academy.
“You think of that day as a time of joy and happiness. It’s usually all smiles and rooting everybody on,” he said. “It’s just devastating what happened. A tough town like Boston will fight back and be stronger than ever, but it’s still not something you ever want to see.”
Yandle tried to do a small part in helping ease people’s pain by inscribing the message “Pray For Boston” on his skate before the Coyotes hosted the Sharks later Monday.
“You just want to bring awareness to it, and that’s something athletes can do,” he said. “Anything you can do to help people get their mind off it, even for an hour, you do it.”