Former Rangers return: “If there’s one game you really want to win, it’s this one.”
Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman are set to make their return to Madision Square Garden. While tonight will be fun for the players and fans, it will really be about two points in the standings.
Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay times spoke with the trio this weekend. “It’s something special,” Stralman said. “A little emotional and fun at the same time. That’s one of the big games that if I’m looking at the schedule, I think ‘Cally’ and ‘Boyler’ would say the same thing. If there’s one game out of the regular season you really want to win, it’s this one.”
Anton Stralman saw his game pick up another level under Alain Vigneault last season, he along with Brian Boyle were instrumental in the long run to the Final. The head coach had nothing but nice things to say about them.
“Cally was our first captain here (under AV’s tenure) and he was very good to our team and to myself. Both Anton and Brian Boyle had some major roles on our team. I’m happy that they’re doing well. They’re playing on one of the best teams in our conference.”
Ryan Callahan in a way was just as major to the team’s run as his contract dispute led to the acquisition of Marty St. Louis. Yet players like Dan Girardi admitted “it’s going to be different” when they play against each other. It will be awkward for sure, until Ryan Callahan hits somebody.
Captain Cally was beloved in NY, for the same exact style that will probably get him booed at some point. The former captain doesn’t seem to care as he told the TB Times, “I’m going to embrace it and enjoy it.”
Brian Boyle has “no idea” how the crowd will react as well, “they could boo us or cheer us.” Those sentiments were further expanded on by Callahan, “It’s a fickle place there in MSG, but that’s what it’s all about, great crowd, great fans. I’m excited to go back and play.”
Considering just how good the Lightning are playing, I’m not so sure the Rangers feel the same way.
Still, from a fan’s perspective, this will not be like Eddie Giacomin returning to the Garden. That night, the Garden rose to its feet and chanted “Ed-die! Ed-die”, bringing him to tears.
Or like the night, Mark Messier returned when he exiled himself (with help from Dave Checketts, then MSG president) to Vancouver. Nor is it the emotional return of Adam Graves, who needed a moment to collect himself when he came back with San Jose.
Yes, Ryan Callahan was an emotional player for us, but he, Boyle and Stralman did not match the longevity or the accomplishments of Giacomin, Messier and Graves.
I expect a nice applause when they’re announced, followed by loud boos once the puck drops.