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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Claude Julien: 'We have opportunity'

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are preparing for an emotional night Wednesday when they host the Buffalo Sabres in the city's first game since Monday's Boston Marathon bombings.

"The one thing I sense from our team is we have the ability to maybe help people heal and find some reason to smile again by representing our city properly," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "To me, this is a time when you're proud to be associated with a professional team.

Boston Bruins
Bruins players will wear "Boston Strong" decals on their helmets for Wednesday night's game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

"When you look at the support this city's had from rivals that are giving us support at this time, it's amazing. We have an opportunity to make our city proud and we're all in for it and hopefully we can do that for our city right now."

Every player on both teams will wear a "Boston Strong" blue and yellow decal on their helmets for the game.

Before the game, local icon Rene Rancourt will deliver a sure-to-be-emotional rendition of the national anthem, with the Boston Fire Department Honor Guard joining him. Prior to the anthem, the Bruins will show a "Boston Strong" video on the screen above center ice, followed by a moment of silence to honor the victims and first responders.

The Bruins donated 80 tickets to first responders (police, firefighters, emergency medical personnel) to attend the game.

"The efforts that have taken place from ownership, management, players and all our associates to put together the proper recognition at tonight's game for those who responded, helped and comforted all those who have been affected by the tragic events this past Monday have been remarkable," Bruins president Cam Neely said Wednesday via a written statement. "Every member of our organization has assisted in many different ways to make sure we make Boston proud, make our fans proud and show what it means to call Boston home. I am very proud of our entire organization for the compassion and support they have all showed, although not surprised. We are all 'Boston Strong.' "

Bruins forward Brad Marchand will also be raffling off his suite at the Garden for the team's first home playoff game, with all proceeds benefitting the family of 8-year-old Martin Richard, who died in Monday's attacks. Richard was a fan of the Bruins and was photographed grinning while at a game, wearing a Bruins hat and jersey.

"Our whole team saw the photos of and learned that he and his family are big fans of ours," Marchand said. "This is just one small gesture which I hope can help the Richard family during this incredibly sad time for them. What they are going through is unimaginable and we will try to assist them in any way we can."

The Bruins also pledged to donate $100,000 to the One Fund Boston, a charity set up by the city to benefit victims of the bombings. The TD Garden, NHL and NHLPA are donating an additional $50,000.

"Our family has been touched by the heroic moments of so many individuals and the strength and resiliency of this community to stand together in solidarity in support of those who were injured and those who lost their lives in this unimaginable tragedy," Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said in a written statement. "On behalf of our entire family, we pledge our unwavering support to this community as the process of healing begins."

Security has been tightened at the Garden, where cars were searched inside and out before entering the garage under the arena. Sports writers, usually subject to only the most cursory inspection, were waved with a metal-detecting wand when passing through security.

"You're fighting with emotions and you're fighting with focus and you've got to be strong in those situations," Julien said. "The best thing we can do right now is really focus on our job to make things better for the people of Boston.

"We know that sports are a great way to help people heal, and not just our sport, but every sport in the city. We're in the entertainment business and that's what we do. At the end of the day, we've got a job to do here and we certainly plan on doing it well."

The Bruins players went about their normal pregame routine Wednesday morning, but the locker room was a little more subdued than usual. The players then met for their normal team lunch at the Garden before heading home for their game day naps.

"If you can't get excited for this game you shouldn't be playing," said Bruins forward Daniel Paille. "There's obviously a lot to play for tonight, and for us, we not only need to be ready, but we need to show that we want to support everyone in the city."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.