But don’t ever let it be said that the players don’t return the favor. In fact, the Boston Bruins go so far as to give some lucky fans the shirts off their backs.
At the end of Saturday night’s Bruins game, the final regular-season game for this season, the Black & Gold capped off a night dubbed “Fan Appreciation Night” by giving away their autographed, game-worn jerseys.
“It’s pretty fitting [as we look ahead to the playoffs] because we’re trying to give something back to the people who’ve stuck with us,” said Andrew Ference
They Black & Gold are only continuing a long-standing tradition that teams have held for years. Milan Lucic
remembered watching the Vancouver Canucks doing giving away their jerseys when he was younger.
“It’s great as a fan receiving something like [a jersey] that’s yours forever,” he said.
Twenty-six B’s fans, some season ticket holders and some chosen at random, filed onto the ice after the last buzzer sounded, clutching Sharpie markers and sealed envelopes. Standing on the ice under the Garden lights, they pulled a piece of paper out of their envelopes one-by-one, revealing the name of the player whose jersey they would receive.
Kaileigh Lessard, 7, and her father Rich, both from Lynn, MA, were chosen out of the crowd to participate in the event.
“It’s great, the way they do everything [these nights],” said Rich. “It changes every year, but it’s definitely a good time every time.”
Kaileigh, who donned a foam bear hat, said she enjoyed cheering during the game.
After opening their envelope, the Lessards were greeted by Ference.
Christine Lucius of Boxford, MA, walked off the ice with Tim Thomas
’s jersey. Her husband has bid on a chance to participate at the Charity Auction in February.
“I think it’s great what they do to give back to the fans all season long,” she said. “It’s just wonderful.”
The players themselves return the feeling, calling the fans, as Lucic has, the best sports fans in the world.
“I think [the Garden] was really packed, even right at the start of the game,” said Luch. “It’s real awesome to see…and we’re going to see what we saw tonight and much more in the playoffs.”
Of course, having a city with so many winning sports teams helps. And now, with the B's returning to the playoffs, Boston's fans have teams participating in the postseason in all five major sports.
Not too many cities can boast baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer teams (and not to mention a college hockey team) in the playoffs over a matter of only a few months.
“They’re probably the luckiest,” said Ference. “All
of their teams, they’re good
Well said, Andrew. Well said.