A moment in our nation’s history like the one witnessed on Sunday night was one of those rare events.
While both teams remained focused on the key Game 2 clash in their second-round series on tap Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Bruins and Flyers alike also took time to reflect on the news that the United States had finally brought Osama bin Laden to justice. Players and coach from both sides expressed feelings of joy, relief and appreciation for the work of the armed forces after President Barack Obama announced late Sunday night that the terrorist leader had been killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan.
”I think it’s a time for everybody to rally and unite again,” Flyers defenseman and Anchorage, Alaska native Matt Carle said after his team’s morning skate. ”I was 16 at the time of September 11  and it was a huge turning point. It was one of those things where I don’t think you’ll forget where you were when it happened, and I think that will be the case again. I think everybody will remember how they found out that Osama bin Laden was killed. It’s one of those things in history that you’ll never forget. And all thanks goes out to our troops and the guys that were over there getting that done.”
Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference echoed those sentiments supporting the U.S. troops that finally brought bin Laden to justice nearly a decade after the devastating attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon he orchestrated. Ference hails from Edmonton, Alberta, but has forged friendships with many American servicemen in his years in Boston.
”For the people that served over there, it’s huge,” Ference said. ”I’ve gotten to know some good friends in Boston over the last few years that have been over there and actually are deploying over the next month or so. Talking to them last night was pretty special. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights for them and I know some of the guys over there are big Bruins fans. They’re off hunting bad guys right now and if we can in some little way provide them some R and R watching our games. There’s a really good connection between us and a lot of our friends over there. I’m happy for them. For us, we didn’t spend the nights hunting for those guys. They did. So it’s their victory.”
Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk had an even closer connection to the World Trade Center attacks. The former University of New Hampshire star grew up in Middleton, New Jersey, not far outside of New York City, and his father, Frans van Riemsdyk, witnessed the attacks from his office in New Jersey.
”My dad actually saw from his office building the second plane fly into the World Trade Center,” van Riemsdyk said. ”In his office building they saw the second plane. They thought it was an accident at first, no one knew what was going on. Then you see this plane take a direct course at it. It was a pretty crazy thing.”
On Monday, van Riemsdyk made sure to call his father to discuss the news that bin Laden had been killed.
”I talked to him this morning,” van Riemsdyk said. ”I called him just to talk about it. It’s pretty exciting that [bin Laden] was brought to justice. It’s kind of the head of the snake I guess you can say has been taken down and hopefully that helps everything else out there.”
Van Riemsdyk also spent plenty of time talking with teammates about the news this morning, as preparation for the game gets put on hold, at least briefly, by a historical event of this magnitude. ”In the morning when we got here we all were kind of talking about it,” van Riemsdyk said. ”It’s a crazy thing. Obviously it took a long time and it was a long process to get to this day, but the fact that we finally got him is pretty rewarding.”
The Wells Fargo Center is sure to be filled by patriotic fervor on Monday night. The Flyers’ tradition of playing “God Bless America,” with Lauren Hart’s live version complemented by a video of the late Kate Smith’s rendition, already produces goosebumps to anyone on hand to witness it. Add in the emotion of the news in the last 24 hours, and Monday’s pregame ceremony is sure to be unforgettable.
”It will be electric,” Carle said. ”For sure there won’t be many dry eyes in the stands tonight. A lot of people, especially on the East Coast, have connections to September 11 in one way or another, so hopefully it brings closure for them and kind of brings everybody together.”
Van riemsdyk agreed. ”The fans and the atmosphere should be great,” van Riemsdyk said. ”It’s a proud day in our history the day that this man was brought to justice.
”At that point last night [when Obama announced the news of bin Laden’s death] hockey was definitely on the backburner when you think about all the things that had been affected and all the people that had lost someone close to them,” he added. ”Obviously it’s a good thing that all of this came to justice today.”
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