By Steve Silverman
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There was a time when the angst caused by the Boston Bruins sent a chill down every Rangers fan’s spine.
That was a long time ago.
The Rangers-Bruins rivalry was at its peak in the early 1970s, when both teams were loaded with talent and appeared to be the two best teams in the National Hockey League.
I was fairly new to the game then, and I remember how every Rangers-Bruins game was a passion play.
The New York media tended to play it as good vs. evil, with the artful and sophisticated Rangers being the good guys and the big, bad Bruins taking on the role of villains.
But the way the games played out was something different than had been prescribed.
The Bruins were not choir boys, but they had one asset that caused your jaw to drop. They had Bobby Orr, and that’s why they won most of the battles with the Rangers.
Forget what anyone else tells you. Orr was simply the best hockey player ever when he was at the peak of his powers. Even Wayne Gretzky’s supporters will say that Orr was the best defenseman ever. But he was so much more than that. He was a remarkable skater with such innate instincts, and he basically took over any game he ever played in.
Gretzky marvels at the way Orr could dominate on the ice, and Bobby Hull once suggested that NHL officials should have brought two pucks to every game that Orr played in — with one for Orr and one for everyone else.
Orr is long gone and the big, bad Bruins are a memory. The Rangers and Bruins haven’t met in a playoff series since 1973, and that’s a hockey shame.
But the ties between New York and Boston are stronger than ever. Terror hit Boston on Monday in a way that hasn’t touched America since 9/11, and New Yorkers set the tone for the rest of the country when the Yankees showed their support for Boston.
The rivalry was put aside and there were signs all over Yankee Stadium indicating kinship and solidarity. “Sweet Caroline” was embraced and so was Boston.
While 9/11 was a terrorist attack on the country, no city felt it more than New York.
The Boston Marathon explosions were part of another attack on this country, but it rocked Boston to the core.
The Bostonians responded at last night’s Bruins-Sabres game with strength and hope. That’s how New Yorkers responded when they finally started playing games again 12 years ago after the two World Trade Center towers went down.
What the terrorists need to know is that their attacks are pointless. Perhaps they plan these horrific shows with the idea that New Yorkers or Bostonians — or any Americans — will be cowed and take to their beds with the covers pulled up.
It doesn’t happen like that and it never will. Americans know full well about our own failings and mistakes. There are daily, weekly, monthly and annual protests about our perceived hypocritical and selfish ways.
There are ways to deal with these issues. It’s called dissent. Protest, demonstrate, make speeches and write letters.
But terrorist activities don’t work against us.
Blast us and we blast back. Punch us and we punch back.
We are brothers and sisters and we band together.
That will never change.
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