TORONTO — On Tuesday, Maple Leafs players stayed away from questions about the “Toronto Stronger” sign that was held up — complete with blue and white ribbon — by a fan prior to and during the Bruins’ Game 3 victory in Toronto. The players said they hadn’t seen the sign, though James van Riemsdyk (a New Jersey native who played college hockey at UNH) said that it isn’t “the best idea” to make a joke about such an issue as sensitive as the Boston Marathon bombings.
Brad Marchand has made a career of saying things that get under players’ skin, but he felt that the sign crossed the line, as it didn’t hurt the Bruins, but a city that has been through a lot.
“I think sometimes fans overeact with things and sometimes go places maybe they don’t need to go. Obviously it’s a very tragic thing that happened. I don’t think anyone should ever take it lightly or make a joke out of it,” Marchand said. “Obviously, people can be very disrespectful, but Boston went though a lot and you saw the respect that every team that we played against after that gave to our city. It’s not about going about going after our guys, our team and putting the team down. It’s more about the city and the people. Everyone reacted the right way about it and gave their respect. If fans want to go the other way then that’s up to them, but it’s not really necessary.”
Claude Julien also found the sign insensitive but pointed out that fans can be that way during the playoffs, noting that a fan in a Leafs jersey was knocked out at TD Garden after Toronto’s Game 2 win.
“Playoffs bring a lot of passion to the fans and rightfully so, and those things are things that happen,” Julien said. “There was an incident in Boston that unfortunately happened to a Leaf fan, and last night’s sign, to me, had nothing to do with hockey. ‘Boston Strong’ is about something that struck our city, not our team and maybe it’s a little sensitive for the Boston people. Those kind of things happen in the playoffs and the best and sometimes the worst comes out of the passion of our game. That’s all I can say about that situation. It’s maybe a little sensitive for the city of Boston more than it is for our hockey club.”
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