Security has been tightened at the TD Garden, where the Boston Bruins were scheduled to play the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in the first major sporting event in the city since the marathon bombings.
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.
"It brings back memories you don't want," said Bruins forward Jay Pandolfo, who was with the New Jersey Devils during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "It's something you don't want to think about. You want to go ahead with your life. You don't want to live in fear."
Inside the Garden lobby, which doubles as the North Station rail terminal, uniformed and plain-clothed police wandered among the commuters. Police cars and motorcycles were lined up on an access road outside.
Garden officials were planning to light the building in blue and yellow, the colours of the Boston Athletic Association, at night. Other plans for ceremonies and tributes were still being completed, Bruins spokesman Eric Tosi said.
"I'm sure tonight will be full of emotion," forward Chris Kelly said. "If we can go play hard to help the city of Boston in any way we can, I know everybody in this locker room would be willing to do that.
"We love the city. We want to help in any way we can — if we can give them 10 minutes of joy, or 20 hours of joy — anything we can do."
The Bruins' game against the Ottawa Senators on Monday night was to take place hours after a pair of bombs killed three people and injured more than 170 others at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The game was postponed until April 28.
"You're trying to live your life in peace, and there's people trying to disrupt that," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "The people trying to live their life in peace are going to stick together."
Pandolfo, who went to Boston University, watched the marathon pass by as a student in the 1990s, before the Sept. 11 attacks brought the fear of terrorist attacks to U.S. soil.
"It's a great day. It's a great day for a lot of people," he said. "There's no reason for this to happen. You never thought something like this could happen, especially in the city of Boston. Stuff like this doesn't cross your mind."
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.
"It's a different feeling, but you're battling with your inner strength to not let it get the best of you," he said. "The best thing we can do is to make things better for the people of Boston. Sports is a great way to pull people together. Just going out there making the city proud of their team, and that's what we're going to do."