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This Day in Buffalo Sports History March 31, 2004 -- "Bless this Mess"

Sometimes a Buffalo team is merely around for a memorable event, part of the supporting cast rather than supplying the major part of the drama.

Such was the case when Mark Messier said farewell to the loyal fans of the New York Rangers, as the Sabres provided the opposition for his last home game. John Vogl was there for The Buffalo News in New York:

"On an emotion-stirring night that will be replayed for generations, the curtain fell on one of the most unforgettable Broadway shows.

NHL legend Mark Messier (inset) likely made his final Madison Square Garden appearance as a New York Ranger on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, ending an era that featured the Rangers capturing their only Stanley Cup in the past 64 years.

"The 43-year-old is in his 25th season and will decide during the offseason whether there will be a 26th. Even if there is, the soon-to-be free agent doesn't appear to be in the plans of the rebuilding Rangers, who will miss the postseason for the seventh consecutive season.

" 'I had goose bumps when I saw the ovation,' Sabres forward Daniel Briere said. 'The way the fans reacted and the players, it's a special moment in hockey. It might have been his last goal, so that was pretty sweet to be there.'

-- Budd Bailey

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