The big bad Boston Bruins have a long standing reputation as one of the meanest and roughest teams in the National Hockey League and although they are now several years removed from that truly being the defining characteristic of their brand of play, the reputation has lingered throughout the years. Perhaps it's for that reason that you don't normally expect to see the softer side of Bruins players and you certainly don't expect them to share heart wrenching stories like this one.
On Thursday night as they prepared themselves for a match up against the Philadelphia Flyers 26 year old center Noel Acciari entered the building sporting a stylish lavender suit, one that carried a very special meaning to him. Inside the the collar of Acciari's suit was stitched "DB7" and although that wouldn't mean anything to anyone who didn't know what it was there for, it carried a powerful and emotional message for Acciari.
The stitching inside the collar was a tribute to Acciari's friend, a young man by the name of Drew Brown and unfortunately a young man who lost his life far too early to cancer. According to the Bruins official website Brown died from a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma at the incredibly young age of just 25, a disease that completely derailed his dreams of one day becoming a professional hockey player. Brown had been a teammates of Acciari's and more importantly was his best friend as well, and his passing has clearly had a long lasting impression the Bruins forward.
"I think about him all the time," said Acciari as per the Bruins' website. "On my sticks, I have a No. 7 drawn on the butt end of the tape, and he's always with me. So yeah, I take him with me everywhere."
Acciari admitted that this month carried an extra special meaning for him and when you consider how deeply impacted he has been by the disease that the National Hockey League is trying to help fight, it's easy to understand why. Acciari was far from the only person impacted by the tragic loss of his friend either, according to the Bruins forward it was a loss that impacted everyone who Brown had touched during his short life.
"He left his legacy," said Acciari. "When I went to the funeral and wake, just the amount of people that showed up and how many people that he's touched…He was a character guy, and he always brought a smile to your face and always laughing…I can still hear his laugh, it's definitely missed."
I too have lost a loved one to cancer as I'm sure many of those who will read this article have and, although this is a beautiful story of a man honoring the memory of his friend, I just wanted to take a moment to offer my condolences to all of you at the end of what can be a tough month for those who have had to deal with such losses throughout their lifetime either directly or indirectly.