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February 19, 2016

Rob Cimetta

Everyone remembers exactly where they were on September 11th, 2001 - the day terrorists attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Former NHLer Rob Cimetta certainly remembers the day well. He was trying to escape 61st floor of the south tower, the second of the towers to be hit by an airplane.

Cimetta had played the last of 103 NHL games nearly a decade earlier. He continued his hockey career in Germany for many years, retiring from the ice for good in 2000.

In the early summer of 2001 Cimetta accepted a job with the financial company Morgan Stanley. He worked out of Florida but he was in New York on that fateful day for a two week training seminar.

Nearly 3000 people died that day. It took 40 minutes descending down crammed stair wells, but somehow Rob Cimetta survived.

"You feel so grateful and so lucky for what happened you want to do something to help," said Cimetta, who. "We feel we won the toss of a coin. What would have happened if our building was struck first? That second plane hit in the 70s [floors] just above where we were."

Cimetta was once a junior hockey star with his hometown Toronto Marlies of the Ontario Hockey League. The Boston Bruins drafted him in the first round of the 1988 NHL draft.

The big winger seemed like a nice for the Bruins, but Cimetta was unhappy with his ice time and demotion to the minor leagues. That led to a rocky relationship with the Bruins early, and ultimately his exit to the Toronto Maple Leafs shortly thereafter.

"In hindsight I regret having forced their hand a bit,” Cimetta told The Hockey News. “I probably should have stuck it out, gone down and spent my time in the minors and matured. I think that would have made a difference in my career.”

Things did not work out much better with the Leafs.

“I got an opportunity in Toronto, but then I started getting a lot of injuries and then there were management changes,” he said. “Cliff Fletcher came in and cleaned house.

“If I look back, I wished I’d stayed in Boston and stuck it out. If I had been more patient, I think I might have had a different career.”

Cimetta enjoyed his tenure in Germany, and, despite the horrors of that terrible day in 2001, his three years with Morgan Stanley. Ultimately he opted to return to Toronto where he got involved in real estate development.

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