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Sabres Classics: First game in Manhattan after 9/11

New episode of 'Beyond Blue and Gold' ties into Thursday's MSG re-broadcast of 2001 game against Rangers

by Chris Ryndak @ChrisRyndak /

BBG: Return to Ground Zero

Beyond Blue and Gold: Return to Ground Zero

In remembrance of Buffalo's game against the Rangers in Manhattan after 9/11, Sabres alumni accompanied a group of veterans back to Ground Zero

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It had been 27 days since the world changed. Terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 shook the nation and while the wounds were still fresh, a sense of normalcy finally began to creep back into everyone's lives. 

In Manhattan, at the heart of the recovery, a hockey game played on October 7 helped with some of that healing. The Buffalo Sabres were set to play the Rangers in New York's home opener. It would be the first game of significance played on the island since the attacks. 

In a sign of solidarity, the Sabres wore jerseys with a "New York" script across the front. Both teams' jerseys were then auctioned off, raising $215,000 for the Twin Towers Fund.

"There was only one team on the ice," Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret said. "The two teams were out there, but there was just one."

While the Sabres lost 5-4 in overtime, everyone associated with the game expressed that, at the end of the day, what the game meant to everyone who watched it was much more important than the final result. 

"It was a game for the people," Sabres equipment manager Rip Simonick said. "It wasn't a game for the league or the players. It was for the people."

The game will re-air at 8 p.m. on Thursday as part of the "Sabres Classics" series on MSG. It will be available live on the MSG Go app and will be posted to the Sabres official YouTube page on Friday.

"Sometimes you have to stand up and be counted," Rangers captain Mark Messier told The New York Post. "As a team, we did whatever we could to make life less difficult for those who had been affected. There were a lot of New Yorkers and a lot of people across the country who had their hearts and souls ripped out on Sept. 11. We did what we could for them."

This past summer, Sabres alumni Rob Ray, J-P Dumont and Martin Biron, and broadcaster Brian Duff accompanied a group of Western New York veterans and Ground Zero first responders on a visit to New York City to reflect and say thank you. It marked the first trip back to Manhattan since the recovery efforts for many of the veterans and first responders. 

We documented the trip in a special new episode of "Beyond Blue and Gold."

Video: Beyond Blue and Gold: Return to Ground Zero

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