Bruins honored to give shirts off back

BOSTON -- The outpouring of appreciation for those who either helped in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings or helped catch the suspects continued at TD Garden on Sunday before, during and after the Bruins’ 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers.

Fans again sang the national anthem in unison and, after the game, Bruins players gave the jerseys off their backs to first responders, law enforcement officers, doctors and even some who ran in the marathon.

“That was great. It was a special moment,” forward Jaromir Jagr said. “We feel lucky to have a chance to actually shake their hands and talk to them because not everyone has a chance to do that, and we feel very lucky to do that. I thought it was a great moment and a great gesture from the Bruins to actually do that, and for us it was easy just to give our jerseys and have a chance to see them, so it was a great moment.”

The “Shirt Off Our Backs” ceremony is actually an annual promotion for fans. But the Bruins said season-ticket holders asked instead for first responders to be the recipients.

Defenseman Andrew Ference also was grateful for the opportunity to thank the 26 recipients of the jerseys and credited them for making it out to the game after such an exhausting week both emotionally and physically.

“The first thing those guys probably want to do is just go home and have some quiet time and collect their thoughts,” Ference said. “For them to get out yesterday for the Sox and today with this, I’m glad that some of them were able to come and just see how much everybody appreciates them. From the teams to the fans, everybody wants to give back and just show our love for them, so it was really great. Everybody stuck around and gave them such a great ovation, and it’s good. I’m happy for them so that they can see from people just how much they’re appreciated.”

The past week has shown to the Bruins, Boston's other sports teams and their fans just how big a role teams play in a community, especially in situations such as the events over the past week.

“I said that earlier this week; I couldn’t be any more proud to be associated with an NHL team, an NHL league, even all of pro sports,” coach Claude Julien said. “You’re looking at what baseball players are doing, basketball, it’s overwhelming how much the individuals and organizations or teams have done to show support for what’s happened.

“It’s everywhere. There’s a lot going on. Even Florida today, they really wanted to wear those [Boston police] hats, so teams coming in are showing their support as well. It’s pretty amazing, but also, like I said, I’m extremely proud at how everybody has gone out of their way to make sure that they’re showing support.”