Rangers Visit Firefighters, Families of 9/11

Nearly 20 Rangers spent Tuesday afternoon visiting several firehouses in New York City to meet with firefighters and families from various foundations, including the Garden of Dreams, the Wounded Warrior Project and NYPD Widows & Children Fund, as the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks approaches this weekend.

Head coach John Tortorella said professional athletes aren’t the heroes people should be looking up to, but rather the men (and women) who risked their lives on Sept. 11, and daily when responding to fires and crimes.

“We’re always looking for heroes in sports, the winning goal, the touchdown, but that’s it there, that’s the real stuff,” Tortorella said as he pointed to the room honoring those who died on Sept. 11, to ESPN. “Players are performers. That’s the real stuff there. You go through that room there, that’s just amazing to me. We live in a bubble … in the sports world we live in a bubble and that’s real stuff there. They’re the real heroes as far as what continues to go on as far as what they do for work. Not us.”

The group visited a total of four firehouses, including Engine 4, Ladder 15, which lost 14 members in the attacks.

“I think it’s great that the Rangers do this and I think there was no question that everyone wanted to do this,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. “Everybody wanted to come out and see these people and hear some stories. We try to show them our support and they mean a lot to this city and they’ve been through a lot of tough times. I think everybody is happy and excited to be here and offer support.”

The players signed autographs and shared stories with the families and firefighters, while looking at the various plaques at each location.

“This is a big treat for us,” said Lt. Mike Thomas, who is with Engine 24, Ladder 5. “This is a nice little break from the stressful week it’s been leading up to 9/11. It has been stressful. There’s a lot going on, a lot of preparations and a lot of memories.”

As always, the Rangers show has classy an organization they are. As a New Yorker, and really, anyone in the Tri-state area, 9/11 holds a bigger meaning than it does for someone living in Oklahoma, Florida or Oregon. For these players to take the time to go around the city and meet with these individuals and the families of people who were killed that Tuesday morning means a lot, even for me. Great job by the organization.

Quotes and photos courtesy of ESPN New York.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamiaTHW

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