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THE HUMAN IMPACT

Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Fleury left in shock by horror

By ERIC DUHATSCHEK, Globe and Mail Update
Tuesday, September 11, 2001

On a day he will remember forever, the New York Rangers' Theo Fleury left his Greenwich, Conn., home Tuesday morning and made his way into Manhattan to participate in the team's annual physical fitness testing, a prelude to the opening of training camp for the new National Hockey League season.

As Fleury and some of his Ranger teammates were making their way toward Madison Square Garden, they witnessed the collapse of one of the two World Trade Center buildings, destroyed in a stunning terrorist attack.

"I saw the building go down," reported Fleury, who said the players were about a 1½ miles from the scene when they watched the massive steel-and-glass structures collapse.

"I'm in shock," Fleury said. "You know how the energy level in Manhattan is usually pretty high? There's none today. It's amazing. People are walking right down the middle of the busiest streets in town. There's not a car out. There's not a cab out. Nothing."

Like so many New Yorkers who commute on a daily basis, Fleury found himself stranded in Manhattan overnight.

"We're not allowed to go anywhere. Nobody is," Fleury said. "They shut down the whole city. We're just kind of sitting here watching TV. We're not very far from where it all went down. It's crazy. It's almost like something else is going to happen. It just feels that way. You get the feeling like you're in a movie or something. Everybody's walking around as if they're in a daze."

Earlier in the day, eight members of the team gathered at Penn Station as part of a pretraining camp promotion. The players were to meet and greet commuters coming into town for the work day and to sign autographs.

One of the players was the Kootenay Ice's Dan Blackburn, the Rangers' No.1 draft choice last June. Blackburn said he finished signing autographs about 8:50 a.m. or right around the time the tragedy occurred — and didn't find out about it until about 10 a.m., or after he had completed his fitness testing.

Blackburn's first move was to call his parents.

"They were pretty worried because they didn't know exactly where I was staying in Manhattan, so they were pretty concerned," Blackburn said.

After testing, Blackburn said he walked back from Madison Square Garden to his hotel.

"It just seemed as if nobody knew where they were going," he said. "There were people just standing in the middle of the street, not quite sure what to do. I've just been keeping an eye on it on TV all day."

The Rangers were scheduled to open training camp Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, located in midtown Manhattan, for the first time ever.

Fleury indicated that no firm decision had been made as of Tuesday afternoon about whether the opening would be postponed.

If they cannot train at MSG, the Rangers could either go to Rye Playland, their practice facility, or to Hartford, home of their minor-league affiliate, the Wolfpack.

Meanwhile, Calgary Flames forward Craig Conroy spent his afternoon frantically trying to reach Jason Currie, a friend and former college teammate who worked across the street from the World Trade Center.

"I've been trying to track him down but I can't reach him," said Conroy, who was born in nearby Potsdam, N.Y., and attended Clarkson College before being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens.

"I have a lot of friends who work in that area [in Manhattan] and I've talked to them but I haven't reached Jason. You're hoping for the best."

Conroy said when he first heard of the attack on the Trade Center he "thought it was a joke. Then I was stunned. I mean, this is an attack. Who would want to do this to innocent people?"

With a report from Allan Maki

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Voices From After the Fall, The Facts Behind the Fear, and the preview of a new Discovery documentary filmed at Ground Zero.


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  • Six-month Memorial for Sept. 11 - U.S. President George Bush speaks from the White House. "The terrorists will remember Sept. 11 as the day their reckoning began," he said.

  • In Canada - Relatives of Canadian victims of the World Trade Centre attacks wonder why there's no six-month memorial here at home.

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