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A Night Of Firsts For New York – – September 19, 2001

The New York Rangers hosted the New Jersey Devils in an emotional pre-season game that marked the first sporting event in New York since last Tuesday’s terrorist attack. The game showed the country that New Yorkers are on the mend.

While the crowd was thin, there wasn’t a shortage of patriotism. The Rangers had a beautiful video presentation at the beginning, followed by the most moving rendition of “God Bless America” that I have heard to date, compliments of a teary-eyed John Amirante. After the National Anthem was performed, the 7,000 or so in attendance erupted as chants of “U-S-A” filled the building.

The score of the game was irrelevant as the Rangers and Devils lined up together for a moment of silence. Eric Lindros playing his first game at MSG had this to say, “I asked respect for those lost and regards for everybody that’s going through a tough time right now. I think it’s one of those situations that where a lot of people are all in it together, and we are all affected by it, but we have to move forward and not forget our past.” Eric Lindros played like it was the Stanley Cup Playoffs as he scored a goal and even blocked a shot with three ticks left on the game clock.

The Rangers’ #1 draft pick Dan Blackburn was sharp in his MSG debut. He has a terrific glove hand and is making a run at making the big club, “I am going to go out and try to play my game every night. I thought I did that last game and this game. If I am doing the best that I can it comes down to a management decision. It’s out of my hands after that.”

Theo Fleury made his return to MSG by scoring the first goal of the game. After the game, he had a chance to reflect, “Our prayers and thoughts go out to the people. As hockey players and athletes if we get to provide some entertainment for three or four hours getting people’s minds off what’s going on, then I think it’s a good thing.”

MSG security was tight as they searched every bag and scanned every person that entered the building. Every fan was given a flag upon entry, which was a nice touch. After the game, the fans that came out were glad that they did just so they could feel that their lives were getting back on track. Nobody worried about who won or lost on this evening, as it was a win for the city of New York in an effort to move forward.

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