The Rangers, Hockey and What it All Means to Me and You
As long as I’ve been a Rangers fan there have been a few things I’ve noticed. One is that the unity that people show around this team is something to be admired. No matter who you are, where you’re from or what your beliefs are, once we all step into the Garden or flip our screens on we all become a part of Ranger nation. We all become united in Blue.
I’ve written quite a few articles for Full Tilt Rangers but I wanted this one to be different. I wanted to talk to all of you out there. All of you who feel the same way I do about this team. The people out there who know that “Potvin Sucks!” and that Henrik will always be the King. I wanted to speak about my love for this team and to those of you who stand up and cheer at the big hit, who stand and cheer for that clutch goal, who stand and cheer when they win and who have heavy hearts when they lose. I can’t count how many times in my life where the one thing I’ve looked forward to at the end of the day was watching the boys in blue compete. It’s something special and it’s a feeling that can never be truly explained.
Now I wasn’t born a hockey fan by any means. I became one around middle school thanks to my good friend, Eddie. My life changed from the moment I found out about hockey and the New York Rangers. The first game I ever viewed was a Rangers/Devils game at the Garden and the first game I ever experienced live was a Rangers/Penguins game at the Garden. I will never forget it for as long as I live.
The Rangers were down 2-0 when Markus Naslund cut the lead in half in the third period. The final minute came along and it seemed as if the boys weren’t going to pull it off but than one of those magical Garden moments happened.
Nikolay Zherdev scored with eight seconds left and the Rangers sent the game to overtime. The building erupted and it felt like the whole Garden was shaking. That feeling, everyone there feeling that euphoria together… It was intense. It would get even better when the Rangers finally pulled it off and won the game in a shootout after a goal from Frederick Sjostrom and a clutch save by Henrik Lundqvist on Sidney Crosby, It couldn’t have been a better first game.
Now I bet, whoever is reading this, that your first game at the Garden was just as amazing. I’ll tell you why. No matter if they won or lost it was your first time seeing them live. The first time being in the presence of the team we all live for. The team we all bleed Blue for. It’s a feeling none of us will forget. The way the Garden comes alive, the way the building seems to have a life of its own, the way it seems like a home away from home with 18,000+ members of your Blueshirt family.
Soon after becoming a huge fan I began to play roller hockey and did so in a league for seven years. After three championships, one most improved player award and one best defenseman award, I hung up my skates from league play but I will never forget the friends and memories I made on that rink with my friends. From winning my first title after coming back from a wrist injury… to winning number two and three and learning what it truly meant to be a leader when I was named captain during the 2009-2010 season. I have so many great memories. So thank you to Armand, Santo, Eddie, Constantine, Nofal, James, Brian, Kevin, Erik, Jacob, Jesse and the countless others who have shared in my hockey adventures.
Those of you who played or still play the game, I’m sure you’ll never forget your first goal or first championship or all those memories you made on that rink with your friends and family. It’s something that just can’t always be put into words but makes you feel warm inside whenever you remember those moments.
There’s something special about the family aspect of the game. Whether you’re an athlete or you simply watch and enjoy the sport there is nothing like the it. I’m not just talking about blood relations either. I’m talking about those bonds you form with fellow fans, friends, people you meet at games or on the rink.
This holds true especially with Rangers fans. I have met quite a few people in my life who we differ on many things but when it comes to the Rangers and hockey we bond. My friend Kyle O’Halloran is a good example of this aspect I speak of. We have lots of different opinions on lots of different topics but when it comes to the boys in blue we couldn’t be closer.
The Rangers will always hold a special place in my heart and while I haven’t written about them as much recently I plan to get back to writing about them weekly. Sometimes life gets in the way but for a team that has done so much for me I plan to write about them more for all of you who hopefully enjoy my content out there.
The team has provided me with some memories I know will never fade. I’ll never forget the ride that was the 2011-2012 season when I got to experience seeing them play in their first conference final since the late 1990’s… the ride that was the run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final that ended in heartbreak… the last second overtime goal by Brad Richards against the Capitals, the Marian Gaborik triple overtime goal, the Martin St. Louis overtime conference final goal against the Montreal Canadiens, Derek Stepan scoring on Braden Holtby to send the Rangers back to the conference finals, Dominic Moore sending the Rangers to the Finals… the list goes on and on and on…
I’m sure many of you have those memories as well. I’m sure many of you longer tenured fans have even more memories of the greats including Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, Eddie Giacomin, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and so many others. The teams that battled the powerhouse Canadiens in the middle of the 20th century… The 1979 Cup run… those teams in the 60’s and 70’s that battled Bobby Orr’s Bruins… the brief time in history when we had the Great One and Messier on the same team and when Jaromir Jagr revived his career under the bright lights of Broadway. There are many more defining moments and I’m sure that anyone reading this will have their own bonafide moment that sticks out in their head.
(Photo by Russell Hartman)
We all cheer for them… we all want that elusive fifth Cup to be held up high in the Canyon of Heroes among millions of us in the streets below… We wear our t-shirts and jerseys with pride… we aren’t afraid to let our pride show and we know the Garden will always be the world’s greatest arena.
We love them, we love those that stand with us in our pride for them. It has been my honor to be a Rangers fan and to have the opportunity to write about them for this site. I’ll always be grateful to you, Anthony for giving me a shot to show the world what I got. So everyone now say it with me:
LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!