''We get paid to play this game because the people want to watch us,'' the Rangers' Brian Leetch said, ''but they made it clear what they wanted to watch.''
After seeing the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers play two periods of their exhibition game tonight, what the fans at First Union Center wanted to watch was President Bush. And they got their wish.
The president's national address on the terrorist attacks to a joint session of Congress was shown on the video screen during the second intermission. But it was turned off when the teams began to come back on the ice, tied at 2-2, after two brawl-filled periods.
When that happened, the fans began to boo, prompting Ron Ryan, the chief operating officer of the Flyers, to order that the address be put back on the screen. For the next 33 minutes, the players and fans watched.
When the president concluded his speech, the two teams went through an impromptu handshake line, more befitting the playoffs than the preseason. By mutual agreement, the third period was canceled and the game was declared a tie.
Rangers center Mike York, who is an American citizen, said the agreement to call the game was the ''right decision.''
>> The New York Times, September 20, 2001