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Posted at 01:18 PM ET, 09/09/2011

Bruce Boudreau, John Thompson Jr. reflect on Sept. 11

As the 10th anniversay of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks approaches, there has been a steady stream of memories and reflections about how life has changed since that day.

On Friday, colleague Mike Wise shared the joint tale of how the lives of two prominent Washington sports figures, Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau and former Georgetown Coach John Thompson Jr., were both saved when their flight itineraries were changed.

Ten years later, John Thompson Jr. remembers how his stubbornness almost cost him his life — and how a mystery kid on the other end of the line unknowingly helped save it.
“You know how I was in them days: I needed to be in Las Vegas for a friend’s birthday party on September 13, and no way no how was I going to fly to L.A. on September 12 and take a chance on missing it or somethin’ going wrong,” Big John said. “I told the producer I had to come out on the 11th” — on American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles.
Ten years later, Bruce Boudreau remembers being told to come to Los Angeles a day early by Andy Murray, then the coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
“He wanted to have a coach’s meeting for everybody in the organization,” said Boudreau, then a minor league coach in Manchester, N.H., six years from taking over as coach of Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
“So about five days before I was supposed to leave, I changed my flight, to September 10 instead of September 11,” which meant he no longer held a seat on United Flight 175 out of Boston.
Ten years later, two coaches very much a part of the District’s sports landscape — from vastly disparate backgrounds, sports and generations — share the greatest life-affirming commonality imaginable: By God, fate or some other unknown force of the universe, Big John and Gabby never got on those flights.

You can check out the full story here.

— The Washington Times also chronicled Boudreau’s story from that day, along with the coach’s memories of Kings scouts Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, who died on United Flight 175.

— Earlier this week, the Rangers visited numerous New York firehouses.

— Anaheim’s Corey Perry also stopped by to visit firefighters at Engine 34, Ladder 21 in midtown Manhattan.

By  |  01:18 PM ET, 09/09/2011

 
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