Ten days after the NHL went silent, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and his family spoke up.
They established a $1.5 million fund for part-time game-day employees affected by the NHL’s stoppage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday morning, they pledged to help those who “will be financially burdened if the six remaining regular-season Bruins games are not played," according to a statement.
That apparently means help will only be available if the NHL decides to cancel the rest of the regular season. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced March 12 the league was pausing play, not canceling games. Given a range of factors including the severity of the outbreak and the strict guidelines against large gatherings, it could be months before the NHL resumes play.
In an e-mail to the Globe, Bruins vice president of marketing and communications Matt Chmura said ownership was “communicating to the relevant Union leadership, and individual associates will receive communication if Bruins games are officially canceled.”
“I think this statement actually makes it worse,” said one frustrated TD Garden employee, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid blowback from his bosses. “I expect nothing.”
The Bruins, first in the NHL standings when the league froze, have been anything but a leader in these troubled times.
They were the last NHL team to inform their hourly workers about a compensation plan, and one of the only teams that have not said it will pay workers during the NHL’s pause.
In the days following Bettman’s announcement, nearly all franchises had made more generous commitments. Less than 24 hours after the pause began, the ownership of the Ducks, Blackhawks, Devils, Flyers, Sharks, Lightning, and Capitals said they would compensate employees scheduled to work suspended events. Nearly all other teams — some with help from players and other charitable funds — followed by the end of the week.
"We thank our associates for their patience and understanding while we worked through the complexity of this unprecedented situation,” the Bruins 55-word statement on Saturday read.
The Jacobses made a similar move to that of Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who pledged to pay employees for canceled events.
The TD Garden employee said he and his colleagues were sent a message Friday, informing them that because of the pandemic’s wide-ranging impact on the company, they would be off work indefinitely, and should seek unemployment if necessary.
On Thursday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey made public pleas for the Jacobses to lend a hand.
“These workers, they’re going to be hurting,” Healey told Boston.com in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “They’re going to have trouble paying rent, buying groceries, and all sorts of things. Delaware North, the Jacobs family, they need to step up here like other NHL teams have, like other owners have, and just find a way to get workers some relief.”
Jacobs, the chairman of Delaware North, has a net worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes. He has owned the Bruins since 1975. It is the fifth-richest team in the NHL, valued at $1 billion. The centerpiece of Jacobs’s holdings is TD Garden, in operation since 1995.
Delaware North, one of the world’s largest food service and hospitality companies, is one of the largest private companies in America. It takes in $3.3 billion in annual revenue, according to Forbes, and services more than 200 locations worldwide, including stadiums, ballparks, arenas, airports, casinos, national parks, and resorts.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe started by fans named Gunnar and Lola Larson had raised $40,150 by the time the Bruins made their statement. The donations included $1,000 kick-ins under the names David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy, Tuukka Rask, Joakim Nordstrom, David Pastrnak, and Katrina Marchand, Brad’s wife.
Saturday’s statement from the Jacobses made no mention of what would happen if the postseason was canceled.
It also said nothing about arena workers affected by the suspension of the NBA season, which includes nine remaining Celtics games at TD Garden. The Celtics, who are tenants at TD Garden, said they would pay their game-night employees — a smaller collection of staffers for the locker room and bench, scoring table, media room, and performers — for the final nine home games.
As management went silent this past week, concessionaires and other game-night staff privately expressed their worry.
“Haven’t heard,” one longtime per-shift employee told the Globe on Friday. “Haven’t expected anything. Only one NHL team. You'd think from a PR standpoint alone, once people started falling in line …
"I can’t believe how this has played out.”
Matt Porter can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.