The first question for Chris Wagner after he scored a goal in the Boston Bruins’ 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins was about hockey, but Wagner wasn’t ready to talk about hockey quite yet.
“Before we talk about tonight’s game, I just wanted to say that we’re all praying for A.J.,” Wagner said.
The Bruins aren’t alone. On Tuesday, Bishop Feehan senior A.J. Quetta went to shoulder check a player in a game against Pope Francis and missed his mark, crashing headfirst into the boards. He was stretchered off the ice and rushed to a hospital. According to the family’s GoFundMe, Quetta “might not be able to move his body again.”
The story caught local and national attention. Bruins winger Brad Marchand hung Quetta’s No. 10 jersey behind the Bruins bench prior to their game. Patriots safety Patrick Chung posted a photo of Quetta on Instagram, calling for prayers and donations.
“Crushes my heart man,” Chung wrote. “His go fund me link is in my bio. Whatever you can do to help with medical bills etc. $10, $20, [expletive] $1 is good, anything from all the people that follow me and have some kind of heart. I’ve donated my thousands.”
For Wagner, Quetta’s injury highlighted life in a new perspective.
“Way bigger than hockey,” Wagner said. “Such a freak accident. Our team is really thinking about him, his family, anybody affected. Really makes us think how fragile our careers are and life is, and we just want to say we’re praying for him.”
According to Tim Sullivan, president of Bishop Feehan High School in an email to the Globe, Quetta underwent surgery on Thursday, and it went “very well,” but Sullivan added that he expects a long road ahead.
The GoFundMe for Quetta swelled to just under $500,000 by Thursday evening.
“A.J. and his family aren’t alone, by any means,” Bruins centerman Charlie Coyle said earlier on Thursday. “We got so many people behind them, supporting them, helping out as best they can and sending well wishes. We know he’s going to pull through and be great.”
The Bruins organization, meanwhile, committed to a minimum donation of $100,000. Bruins chief executive Charlie Jacobs said in a statement that Quetta and his family “should know that they are not alone in the journey.”
Marchand’s reason for hanging Quetta’s jersey behind the Bruins’ bench was similar.
“I think the biggest thing, we just wanted to show we’re thinking about him, and we want to support him,” Marchand said. “It’s a very tough thing to see, especially a young kid going through that. Can’t imagine what the family is all going through. We just wanted to let everybody know that we’re behind him, and we’re there to support him and support his family. That was the message we wanted to send.”
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