Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 25: Fans enter TD Garden before the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on September 25, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Bruins may be going through their first COVID spread of the 2021 season, but the plans to reopen TD Garden to fans for the first time in over a calendar year later this week remain in motion.

“The plan is to move forward with the 12 percent [capacity] at the Garden,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney confirmed Monday. “And all the people there under Amy [Latimer] and Cam [Neely] and everybody has done an unbelievable job to prepare the building to thankfully welcome back the people that want to support our hockey club and the first responders and health care workers we want to be able to acknowledge.”

For the Bruins, who were originally set to welcome fans back to the building in the since-postponed Mar. 23 game with the Islanders, that 12 percent equates to a little over 2,100 people admitted back into TD Garden. And ‘Opening Day’ for the fans now moves to Thursday’s still-scheduled meeting with New York. Now, whether or not that game happens remains to be seen. The status of that contest seems likely to come into clarity if and when the Bruins are able to get back on the ice for a practice on Wednesday, but with the Bruins slated to be at TD Garden through an Apr. 5 meeting with the Flyers, there’s no doubt that fans are coming back. And soon.

The Bruins have already talked about that lift a crowd, even at just 12 percent, can give them. They’ve already experienced it in New York as a visitor, and again in Pittsburgh and Buffalo on their most recent road trip.

“To be honest with you, in New York, even though it was a small amount, it made a difference,” Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said earlier this month. “It was great to have some fans in there, even though they were rooting for the Rangers. It was just great to have some energy in the building and its atmosphere and definitely looking forward to that at home.”

It will also mark the first step back towards normalcy, at least in Boston, as this will be the Bruins’ first game with fans in the stands since Mar. 7, 2020. It will also be Boston’s first pro sports game with any sort with in-person attendance since the Celtics hosted the Thunder on Mar. 8, 2020 at TD Garden.

“Just to have people back in the building and cheering for us is going to be a welcome thing for the players and really for everybody involved,” said Sweeney.