What can the Rangers fans learn from the Islanders fans
If you clicked on this article and you were ready to jump to the comments with a furious rage in your fingertips, then GOOD. You already proved to me that your passion was challenged, and you wouldn’t take that sitting down, metaphorically speaking of course.
Onto business: the whole hockey community is buzzing with the recent blow out of the Maple Leafs by the hands of the Metropolitan division leaders, the New York Islanders. In his first game back to the Island, former captain John Tavares was greeted with boos, hisses, chants, jerseys and plastic snakes. Not to mention the god awful “Dear John” video that I can’t even stomach for 30 seconds.
Now I don’t agree with the throwing of objects at a player, the tantrums and especially not the jersey burning (SERIOUSLY THOSE JERSEYS ARE EXPENSIVE WHAT’S WRONG WITH EVERYONE? WHO DOES THAT?!), I understand the frustration and passion these fans are showing year after year. This intense loathing spewing from the fans to a former player has gotten mixed reviews with either surprising support for the passion or the obvious disgust that fans can act in such a way.
Why am I talking about the Islanders you may ask? Well if you read the title, you’d understand why I bring this up. The Rangers fans don’t seem to have the same passion at the games as other teams do. Now there can be a few reasons for this but one of the biggest and easiest to point out is that tickets to Rangers games, even when they play like a dysfunctional mess of a hockey team, are exceedingly overpriced.
If you’ve been to a Rangers game EVER you would see that the lower bowl is only barely patched together with a sea of blue or white button up shirts, maybe a fancy tie or two, the occasional actual fan that is either lucky enough to get upgraded that night or can actually afford it and let’s not forget the celebrity guest that gets blown up on the big screen.
Seats even remotely close to center ice in the lower bowl can go for almost $450 a ticket sometimes even more if we’re playing the Devils or an original 6 team. The real issue is that sometimes the cheapest tickets can go for $90! But hey, we’re a big market team. The Rangers are in the heart of the city and right above Penn Station, so I get why their lease is expensive and I’m sure other big market teams like the Blackhawks, Bruins and Flyers have similar issues.
The Rangers are just starting to build a new identity under David Quinn. Still they don’t have a captain or superstar (who is not a goalie) that establishes who they are. If we look at the reining Stanley Cup Champions and you already have a player that fits the bill in mind don’t you? The Great 8, the Russian sniper, Alex Ovechkin is a huge presence on and off the ice. He’s gritty, a goal scorer and we all saw what he did with the Cup after he won last season.
I’ve always felt that the Rangers haven’t had that one guy who always had that presence and moxie on the ice that is just needed in hockey since Mark Messier. We see it with guys like P.K. Subban that are beloved by the fan base and always a factor in their games. I know Henrik Lundqvist is the heart and soul of the team and Mats Zuccarello was a fan favorite but Hank is a goalie and Zucc isn’t here anymore. The Rangers need something to bring the fans together on a daily basis.
So, what could another problem be? Well for one, we have the same chant since 1979. I understand that back then it was a huge issue, its embedded into our history and the fans will never let it go no matter what but that was 40 years ago!
We chant it no matter who is in the building. We could be playing the Las Vegas Golden Knights and you’ll hear that whistle and the roar from the crowd all in unison “POTVIN SUCKS”. It’s outdated, most kids that go to the game don’t even understand why they end up chanting it but it’s a tradition that will just be associated with the Rangers.
I wish I was there back then to feel why this chant was so powerful and what brought Rangers fans together. I can see the makings of a new tradition for the island with JT and his “betrayal.” It was his hometown team give it a rest already. See? I’m already mad at this new chant of “pajama boy” and “snake” and it hasn’t even been a day.
We need a common enemy as Rangers fans. We need someone or something to bring us together to wake us up while cheering on the Rangers. Kind of like John Tavares to the NY Islanders.
The usual “Let’s Go Rangers” chants will stay but we just lost ZUUUCCC and in a few years we’ll have to say goodbye to HEN-RIK. We’re going to have nothing to cheer for, or against. Other franchises in our area have things that bring fans together, the Mets have the Wilpons, the Devils have the Rangers, the Yankees have all their “haters”, the Jets have their common misery and anguish, the Nets have…I’ll come back to that one, the Giants have the whole NFC east, the Knicks have James Dolan and the Islanders now have Tavares.
The Rangers don’t have Denis Potvin, or a disgruntled ex-teammate or even an owner that is so bad that he can simultaneously ruin two franchises. We are always split on players, coaches, prospects and the GM. We can’t decide who or what to hate effectively. A common enemy will bring us fans together…one day. To be honest, we have more infighting on social media than we do anything else.
For now, though, we need to celebrate and be excited for the future of the Rangers. Not declaring kids busts because they aren’t a superstar at age 18, no discrediting a goalie for letting up 4 goals in one game for the first time in a season, and no drunken brawls with EACH OTHER during games. At least fight those opposing fans that thought they would enjoy a nice trip to New York City, screw those guys! Just kidding, we don’t condone any violence unless it’s Brendan Lemieux against the opposition on the ice.
I know it’s frustrating to be a bad team, but accept the fact that the Rangers may still be a year or two from contending. We need to accept that we’re getting rid of fan favorites and that just because you tweeted someone about why you love a player doesn’t mean anything to the brass up in the front office.
You can be mad we got rid of players or be mad that we aren’t great as a team right now, but use that anger and frustration in a constructive way. Next time when you see the Blueshirts play, use all those emotions and cheer. Make sure the other teams hear us and have them afraid to come back to the world’s most famous arena. I know the Leafs and John Tavares will will remember that loss and that treatment. We also know the Islander fans will never let it go.
They found their rally cry and it is time for Rangers fans to unite and find theirs.