Rangers fans weary of 1994, falling short in Stanley Cup Playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

In searching for the right word that best describes the mood of New York Rangers fans these days, it’s weary. They are weary about one good season after another ending in playoff disappointment.

In fact, so tired are they of coming up short, it’s fair to say after 30 years, they are weary of hearing about the 1994 Stanley Cup champions, too.

That doesn’t mean Rangers fans of all generations don’t look fondly on Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter and Co. Or that “The Guarantee” or “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” aren’t still celebrated moments.

But the frustration of constantly looking back season after season, again it’s 30 years now, has exhausted the fanbase. And let’s be honest, the younger generation, especially, wants a Rangers championship season of its own to revere.

But yet there’s only been one of those in 84 years. One. 1994. That’s it.

And it wears on the fanbase.

Was this 30th anniversary one to celebrate or did it just add to the frustration of the Rangers being eliminated in six games of the Eastern Conference Final by the Florida Panthers?

The answer clearly is both. But the latter feels like the dominant reaction.

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Rangers recent success not enough for 30 years without Stanley Cup championship

Syndication: Westchester County Journal News
Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORKCredit: Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Compared to many teams in the NHL, the Rangers have much more success, certainly in the past 12 years. The Rangers have had seven 100-point seasons since the 2011-12 season and reached the conference final five times. They also made it to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.

That’s a lot of good hockey to celebrate. But as the years add up and the reasons and excuses for falling short pile up, the frustration and weariness sets in.

Yes, the Black and Blueshirts pushed as far as they were physically capable before losing in the 2012 conference final to the New Jersey Devils. Yes, the Kings were more battle tested and championship worth in 2014. Yes, an injury overload that included Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh sabotaged another run to the Cup Final in 2015. And yes, the Rangers were not yet ready to win it all in 2022 and ran into a Panthers brick wall this spring.

All true. Plus there are the early playoff flameouts in 2013 and 2023 that stand out. All sandwiched around a rebuild.

All in all, a darn good stretch of hockey. But good is not good enough any more. Even 1994 is not good enough any more.

That was evident this spring, fresh off franchise records for wins (55) and points (114), and buoyed by seven straight wins to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs and even a 2-1 series lead in the conference final, had most convinced this was the year.

Until it wasn’t.

So, no, not many felt like celebrating that 30th anniversary of the ’94 champs. The feelings of falling short overwhelmed the senses.

It’s time to finally win another championship, to bring the Stanley Cup back to New York.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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