By Scott Lauber
The outcome of last night’s hockey game at Walter Brown Arena hardly mattered.
In fact, few people on the ice or in the stands took note of the 11-5 final score. The benefit hockey game between Boston University alumni and former Boston Bruins was all about Travis Roy, the Terrier forward rendered paralyzed on Oct. 20.
“The game and the score was minor,” former Terrier Mike Eruzione said. “Hopefully Travis won’t be pissed off when he finds out we lost.”
Approximately 1,025 people purchased tickets for $10 apiece to raise money for Roy and to watch three NHL Hall of Famers and two former U.S. Olympic gold medalists skate in an exhibition. Fans had their picture taken with former Bruins Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson for $10.
Lee and Brenda Roy, Travis’ parents, watched from their usual seats in Section 11, directly behind the BU bench, where their son’s jersey is usually hung. Lee Roy reported that his son’s condition has improved slightly since last week, but he solemnly announced that the long-term prognosis for full recovery remains doubtful.
“I was just sitting here with my family, enjoying the game, and all of a sudden, it dawned on me why this was going on,” Lee Roy said. “Hockey has been a part of my life for 43 years, but during the presentation from the ice hockey officials, to be standing on the ice where Travis skated was very tough.”
As a child, Lee Roy idolized many of the former Bruins who contributed to the fund-raiser. Roy said it was overwhelming for him to see Orr and fellow Bruin Hall of Famers Brad Park and John Bucyk skating to raise money for his son.
Prior to the exhibition, the alumni spoke with Roy’s family and passed along their best wishes for his recovery. Former BU forwards and 1980 Olympians Eruzione and Jack O’Callahan led the Terrier alumni in a pre-game discussion in the locker room with Lee and Brenda Roy.
“We just said that we feel for them, and we don’t know firsthand what they’re going through, but they have been outstanding throughout the whole ordeal,” Eruzione said.
“We told them that Travis will always be a Terrier, and hopefully Travis will always know that being a Terrier is special.”
“I think people are starting to realize what BU hockey is all about,” he added. “It’s not about the national championships or Coach Parker’s 500th win. It’s a great family here at BU, and when one of us hurt, we all hurt.”
“Before the game, I got a chance to shake hands with some of the former Bruins who I’ve idolized since I was a kid,” Lee Roy said as tears welled up in his eyes. “Growing up in Massachusetts, we used to take the train in to get cheap seats at the old Garden to watch [John] McKenzie and Bucyk. Now, to think they are doing this for Travis— it’s humbling, very humbling.”
Orr was the biggest celebrity in attendance last night. Arguably, the greatest defenseman in NHL history, Orr had his picture taken with eager fans. His Bruins jersey was auctioned off, and the profits were donated to the Travis Roy Fund. Unofficially, the highest bid for the jersey was $500.
“I met Bobby Orr twice— once tonight and once back at [Maine’s] Cumberland County Civic Center when he gave Travis an autograph, which he still has,” Lee Roy said. “We sat down to work out the parameters of a visit, and I would expect that within the next week or so, he’ll be down to see Travis.”
Lee Roy also announced that Orr has worked with the NHL on plans to honor Travis at its annual All-Star Game, which will be played at the FleetCenter on Jan. 20.
“Anything Bobby Orr is involved in, you know will be a class endeavor,” Lee Roy said.
Many of Roy’s teammates sat in the crowd, watching their predecessors rekindle the glory of their younger days, BU head coach Jack Parker greeted most of the alone competitors when they arrived at Walter Brown Arena, but he left to visit Roy in the New England Spinal Cord Rehabilitation Unit at Boston University Medical Center Hospital. According to Lee Roy, Parker visits Travis nearly every day, and the freshman’s spirits are lifted whenever he sees his coach.
“I would be hard-pressed to find anybody who has done more for us than Jack Parker,” Lee Roy said. “He continues to be a mentor to Travis in the hospital room. Every day he is in Boston, and he’s spending time at the hospital with Travis and us. We’ve been able to tap into that strength.”
“One night, I forget the conversation, but he leaned over to Travis and said, ‘Remember, I’m still your coach,'” he added. “And Travis kind of shook his head to acknowledge that Jack is still his coach.”