Flyers' Bellemare touched by support of teammates, world in wake of Paris attacks
Philadelphia Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare finds himself wrestling with his emotions, each holding as strong of a grip as the next.
Three days removed from the terrorist attacks that rocked Paris, the 30-year-old Frenchman admitted on Monday that he is still stunned at the horrific events that saw at least 129 people killed and 350 others injured.
"Obviously, I'm as shocked as the rest of the world," Bellemare said during a phone interview on Monday. "It's tough to see a place you love get attacked this way. You don't expect it or realize it happened until it actually happened - and the way it happened, it was a massacre.
"It was not nice to hear people talking about my country and my town in that way. Shock, sorrow and a little bit of anger. It's not an easy weekend for any French person."
Bellemare, however, was comforted by the support his country received from the league and the world at large. A moment of silence was held in each NHL arena on Saturday while various displays honoring France were evident throughout the United States and Canada.
"I have a lot of respect for the other countries to show us so much support," said Bellemare, who was born and raised in Paris. "(The aftermath of the attack) united a lot of countries together and it's really unbelievable the outpouring of (support). It's hard to explain, but (while France was) attacked, we now have the support of the whole world to build us back up."
Contre la terreur ... L'amour !!!! Love ... against terror !!!! pic.twitter.com/pXDbqUe65u— Antoine Lefebvre (@lasvegap) November 14, 2015
One check of his phone attested to Bellemare that he didn't have far to look for support.
"I felt the support right from the first moment when I opened my phone," Bellemare said. "The newspaper alarm went off on the phone, and after a couple of minutes, I received texts from the guys, from (captain Claude) Giroux and others, one at a time.
"They're with me. Everyone was just wondering how I was and everyone has been a huge support. The team certainly helps you go forward."
My prayers go out to everyone and their families who were affected by the Paris attacks #Pray4Paris— Wayne Simmonds (@Simmonds17) November 14, 2015
Going forward for Bellemare meant returning to the ice on Saturday following an eight-game absence due to a lower-body injury.
With a heavy heart, Bellemare was seen mouthing the words to "La Marseillaise" as the French national anthem played prior to the Flyers' road game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"Anytime you hear the French national anthem, it's a touchy feeling," Bellemare said. "It's not too often that you hear it, but it means that someone is paying respect to your country."
The league also paid its respect by allowing Bellemare and fellow Frenchman Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars to wear a small flag on the back of their helmets.
"I was touched that the NHL let me put the flag on my helmet ... and obviously during the national anthem, I was mostly thinking about the people and families and just tried to be strong."
Speaking of family, Bellemare immediately got in touch with his younger sister, Rose-Eliandre, and his mother shortly after the news broke on Friday. Relieved that they were safe, Bellemare was able to exhale for a moment or two while he was halfway around the globe.
Bellemare intends to close that gap and return to France in the offseason, but isn't certain how he'll feel when he does.
"We'll see how it's gonna feel then," an emotional Bellemare said.