(AP) Boston fans mourn, then cheer as sports return
By JIMMY GOLEN
AP Sports Writer
Emerging from a moment of silence with a deafening cheer, fans at Wednesday night’s Bruins game paid tribute to the victims of this week’s Boston Marathon bombing with a stirring national anthem and a thunderous chant of “U.S.A.!”
The sold-out crowd at the first major sporting event in the city since Monday’s attack lined up for metal-detecting wands and random car inspections to get into the TD Garden. Once inside, they watched a somber video with scenes from the race, ending with the words, “We are Boston, We are Strong.”
Boston fans also chanted, “Let’s go Boston!” instead of the traditional “Let’s go Bruins!”
The players on the ice for the opening faceoff banged their sticks in the traditional hockey salute, drifting back off the blue lines so that they, too, could see the video. The Boston Fire Department Honor Guard brought out the U.S. flag to honor the first responders who rushed to the aid of the three killed and more than 170 injured by the twin bombs at the marathon finish line.
Longtime Boston Garden troubadour Rene Rancourt took his place for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” But he sang only the first few lines, allowing the crowd to carry the tune while he pumped his fist to keep time.
It was an emotional return to normal life for the city, which has been dazed by the attacks on one of its signature and most beloved events. Monday’s scheduled Bruins game against Ottawa was rescheduled, and Tuesday night’s Celtics game was canceled outright.
But the Bruins said they were determined to help the city move on.
Players on both teams wore “Boston Strong” decals on their helmets, and the Garden was illuminated in blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Athletic Association.
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs pledged $100,000 to The One Fund Boston, the charity established to help families affected by the bombing; the Garden, the NHL and the players association pledged $50,000 each. Ads on the dasher boards and the video screens gave the website address for the fund.
Bruins players and staff collected 80 tickets to the game to donate to the first responders. Forward Brad Marchand raffled off his own suite for the team’s first playoff game, with the proceeds to go to the family of 8-year-old Martin Richards, who was killed in the blast.
That was already accomplished 5:45 into the first period, when Daniel Paille’s goal to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead over the Buffalo Sabres brought a raucous chant of “We are Boston!”
During the first break, public address announcer Jim Martin asked any runners from Monday’s race to stand up; many were wearing their finishers’ medals. He then asked for applause for anybody who has ever run; by the time he recognized anyone who has ever volunteered or watched the race, virtually the entire crowd was standing.
Cars were searched inside and out before entering the arena’s underground garage in the morning, with guards using a mirror on a pole to check the undercarriage. Sports writers, usually subject to only the most cursory inspection, were waved with a metal-detecting wand when passing through security for the Bruins’ morning skate.
All of the Bruins players said they feel safe at the arena and walking around the city, commending authorities for the added security since the bombing. Any anxiety, Julien said, needs to be directed toward the game.
Breitbart Sports contributed to this report.