Ference, Thornton salute bin Laden news

PHILADELPHIA -- After being glued to their TVs in their hotel rooms Monday night -- as much of the entire world was -- and watching history play out with the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces, Bruins players on Monday morning gave their reactions to the historic news.

Some of the players, like defenseman Andrew Ference and forward Shawn Thornton, have formed friendships with soldiers they’ve met through various charitable events.

“There’s a really good connection between us and a lot of our friends over there so I’m happy for them,” Ference said. “For us, we didn’t spend the nights hunting for those guys, they did and it’s their victory.”

One of Ference’s good friends is a local Army Ranger -- Lucas Carr of South Boston. Ference told the media he was texting Carr the second he saw the news that bin Laden had been killed.

“I texted my friend Lucas Carr right away and said ‘Did you guys get him?’ because they’ve been watching the Bruins games over there and we’ve been keeping in touch with them,” Ference said. “I know that they’re out for a few days and he texted me a few days ago and said that they were going out hunting for (bin Laden) so I texted him right away and said ‘Was that your boys?’ and he was excited.

“Like he said to me last night, there was a lot of sleepless nights looking for that guy. So I’m really proud for those guys because I didn’t really feel it myself but knowing those guys and how they put their butts on the line and do so much for us and for them to get a victory like that is pretty cool.”

When told of what Ference said and his reference to him, Carr responded to an email from ESPNBoston.com immediately.

“To have Andy say that will only bring smiles ear to ear, and the happiest tears to me, US Army Rangers, and throughout the U.S. military,” said Carr, who noted that he had spoken to Rangers abroad who were motivated by the Bruins’ recent Game 7 win over the Canadiens. “That victory was won with special operation units to include Navy Seals, Delta Force, 160th SOAR, and U.S. Army Rangers. We put our butts on the line as Andy said, not only to give the American people the best of the best, but to provide a better way of life throughout America. An example of that is watching the Boston Bruins in action.

“Andrew Ference not only has a connection with the U.S. Army and Army Rangers, but to us he and the Boston Bruins organization are like family,” Carr went on to write. “Today is a new day, and a good day at that. When all the dust settles around the special operations units throughout Afghanistan, I’m sure they will be tuning into watching their hockey team, and looking for No. 21 to make some big plays!”

Thornton hadn’t spoken to Carr or any of his other friends in the military yet, but he was extremely happy for them and the morale boost this is giving so many soldiers who fought to make this moment happen.

“It’s very surreal and I’m hoping that this gives the victims of 9/11 and the families of soldiers who lost their lives some closure,” Thornton said. “I know Andy [Ference] talked to a few of the Rangers and I’m sure it’s a big morale booster because it’s been a long time coming. Definitely a big congratulations goes out to the military who were involved for the last 10 years trying to hunt bin Laden down and thank you for your service.”

Thornton knows how lucky he is to be doing what he does for a job and he realizes that what the military does to preserve the freedom that enables him to be a pro hockey player.

“Their job is so difficult and so much more important than ours that I don’t even think I should have an opinion but I’m sure it’s a big morale booster for them,” Thornton said. “I can’t even fathom what they go through day in and day out. We’re very fortunate to be in the position to do what we do and obviously they enjoy themselves when they come to the games. I’ve talked to a few of the guys sometimes after the games and they say it helps them forget about what they go through and to know that we can even help them a little bit means so much.”