Friday, October 7, 2016

2001-02 New York Rangers "New York" Mark Messier Jersey

On this date in 2001, the Buffalo Sabres traveled to Manhattan to take on the New York Rangers in the Rangers emotional home opener at Madison Square Garden, the first Rangers home game following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center less than a month earlier.

Further making this game unique was that both the Sabres and Rangers wore special tribute jerseys that evening with the regular team cresting replaced with "NEW YORK" diagonally across the chest.

Sabres 9/11 New York Jersey,hockey jersey
Messier attacking the Sabres Bob Essensa

The special jerseys were worn for just that one contest and auctioned off afterwards to raise money for The Twin Towers Fund to aid victims of the terrorist attacks.

The game was played after a moving pre-game ceremony that honored the men and women in uniform who died trying to save lives in the World Trade Center attack as the New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York hockey teams lined up on the ice and the Rangers skated between them during their introductions.

FDNY team member Larry McGee had brought the Fire Department's late Chief of Special Operations Ray Downey's firefighters helmet with him with a picture of Downey tucked into the brim of the helmet. He noticed that of all the players, only Rangers captain Mark Messier had not worn his hockey helmet during the pre-game ceremonies.

As the Rangers were lined up at the blueline, McGee sensed the moment was right and skated over to Messier with the helmet and told him it would be an honor if he would wear it. Messier responded, "Sure, whatever you need" and donned the helmet of the still missing Downey as the Madison Square Garden crowd roared it's approval.

Messier Firehelmet 10/7/01
Mark Messier wearing Chief Downey's helmet prior to the Rangers first home game following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Note the special "New York" jersey worn only for that game.

"For me, personally, it was very emotional for a lot of reasons," said Messier, "Obviously, with all the people being honored - the firefighters, the police, the rescue workers, the volunteers, the entire city - and all our fans. All on a day when we started fighting back as a country."

Once the game began, the Rangers Eric Lindros opened the scoring at 8:13 of the first period on the power play in his first game at Madison Square Garden and J. P. Dumont evened the score for Buffalo a little over a minute later at 9:38.

Stu Barnes was credited with the Sabres second goal at just 1:59 of the second and Vaclav Varada stretched the Sabres lead to 3-1 at 14:46. The Rangers struck back late in the second with a pair of goals in the final minute to send the game into the third period even at 3-3 when Michal Grosek put one in at 19:12 and Andreas Johansson got the Rangers third with just a tick of the clock remaining at 19:59.

The Rangers too their first lead of the night at 3:11 of the third when Radek Dvorak beat the Sabres Bob Essensa on a breakaway but Slava Kozlov tied the game once more at 4:58 when he beat Rangers goalie Mike Richter.

Brian Leetch would win the game for the Rangers with a slapshot with 2:15 remaining in the overtime to give the Rangers a come-from-behind win in their home opener on a dramatic evening.

At the conclusion of the auction, the highest bids received were $20,010 for Mark Messier's Rangers jersey, $15,010 each for Richter and Leetch of the Rangers, $9030 for Theo Fleury's Rangers jersey and $8030 for the Rangers Lindros with the highest Sabres jersey being Barnes at $5885. In total, 44 jerseys were auctioned off and over $215,000 was raised.

Today's featured jersey is a 2001-02 New York Rangers "New York" Mark Messier jersey. This jersey features Messier's captain's "C" as well as the special "New York" cresting, which replaced the normal "Rangers" wordmark for this one game only. In addition, this jersey is completed with the 9/11 memorial ribbon patch on the left shoulder, which was worn by the Rangers for the entire 2001-02 season.

To create this special jersey, a blank Rangers CCM was first purchased and a 9/11 memorial ribbon patch obtained via ebay. The jersey was then sent in for customizing, with not only  Messier's name and number, but also the addition of the special "New York" cresting recreated in the same font as a standard Rangers jersey. The project was then completed with the addition of the  9/11 memorial ribbon patch on the left shoulder.

While at first glance it appears to be a standard Rangers jersey, sharp-eyed expert viewers will be rewarded by noticing the alternate "New York" cresting.

New York Rangers 2001-02 9-11 jersey photo NewYorkRangers2001-029-11F.jpg
New York Rangers 2001-02 9-11 jersey photo NewYorkRangers2001-029-11B.jpg
 photo NewYorkRangers2001-029-11P.jpg

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2001-02 Buffalo Sabres "New York" Stu Barnes jersey. This jersey features Barnes' captain's "C" as well as the special "New York" cresting, which replaced the normal Sabres logo for this one game only.

Similar to the Rangers jersey, a blank Sabres CCM was first purchased. After locating the proper Sabres shoulder patches on ebay, the jersey was then sent in for customizing, with not only Barnes name and number, but the "New York" cresting recreated in the same font used for the Sabres names on the back.

Unlike the more subtle change from "Rangers" to "New York" in the same font in today's featured jersey, this Sabres jersey replaces their usual buffalo head logo with the diagonal "New York" lettering, making this particular jersey stand out more from the usual Sabres jerseys of the day.

 photo BuffaloSabres01-029-11F.jpg
 photo BuffaloSabres01-029-11B.jpg

In today's video section, here is a brawl from the October 7th, 2001 game when the Sabres and Rangers wore their special "New York" jerseys. You can see the Sabres jersey at the start before the players tie up. The 9/11 memorial ribbon patch can clearly be seen on the Rangers player's shoulder during the fight and you do get a clear look at both fighters jerseys at the end of the video when the fight is broken up and they are leaving the ice.

Plus, any day we get to post a video featuring Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret is a good day.

Just because we can, some more Jeanneret excitedly calling a few goals by Barnes in the way only he can.

Finally, Messier recalls his memories of 9/11.

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