Understandably, it was an emotional night for both Justin Braun and James van Riemsdyk.
Both players said goodbye to their careers in a Flyers uniform during Thursday night’s season finale at Chicago.
For Braun, it’s the end of his NHL career. For van Riemsdyk, it’s on to another team through free agency.
The game ended with the Flyers producing a dramatic 5-4 win over the Blackhawks at Chicago’s United Center.
Braun, a defenseman on his second tour with the Flyers, was supported by his teammates throughout the game as they did what they could to get him his 200th NHL point.
Although it was disappointing that didn’t happen, there were some pleasant memories, including allowing Justin’s dad to be behind the team bench.
There were tears in Braun’s eyes as he talked about his final NHL game and what it meant to have his dad on hand to watch from close by.
“Emotional,” Braun said when asked for his thoughts on this occasion “It didn’t really hit me until ‘Provy’ (Ivan Provorov) scored (the game-winner in OT).
“It was an amazing run. I just want to thank my wife and parents, kids, everything they did for me throughout my career when I was young. It’s a tough day but it was a great run.”
Braun spent most of his career with the San Jose Sharks and he enjoyed a great deal of success with that team.
The move to the Flyers has had its ups and downs but for the most part it’s been a positive experience.
“My first year here was awesome,” he recalled. “We got shut down by COVID and went to the bubble and everything. Since then, it’s been kind of a struggle around here. But the guys in the room made it not as tough.
“I made a lot of life-long friends. Those are the people I’m going to miss. I had my dad on the bench, what an honor. He’s been there for me my whole career. It’s awesome they let him do that. The Flyers have been great to me. I can’t thank them enough, if you needed something they were always there for me.”
In a lighter moment, Braun discussed his surprise presence on the power play, a rather rare appearance.
“That was the coaching staff,” he said with a grin. “They were trying to get me that last point.”
Van Riemsdyk had nothing but praise for Braun.
“He’s a popular guy on our team,” JVR said. “Everyone loves being around him. He’s had a great career. It’s nice to go out on a winning note. It’s been a pleasure to play with him the last few years.”
Braun has been a good mentor to some of the Flyers’ younger D-men.
“With all the experience he has and the reliability, he’s very predictable on the ice, you know where the puck is going to go,” van Riemsdyk said. “He plays well defensively, does his job as far as team game, structure. That’s a good example for a lot of guys.”
Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk figures to continue his career elsewhere. One rumor has him headed to Minnesota where he has set up residence.
He scored his 300th NHL goal in Tuesday night’s overtime win against Columbus.