Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Blues of Broadway

The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight. Sadly, this year much like most years the Finals shall be contested without my beloved New York Rangers. While this season they came closer than they have in any of the seasons since they last won the Cup in 1994, this season ended too has ended without a championship.

On Friday night when I should have been sleeping to ensure that I was bright eyed and bushy tailed for Saturday morning's Spring Lake 5 I was instead glued to the television set watching the Rangers battle for their life against the Devils. It proved ultimately to be an unsuccessful mission. Adam Henrique scored in overtime and the Devils were off to compete for yet another Stanley Cup. This marks their fifth such trip to the Finals since the Rangers made their last one. The Devils have won three Cups since the Rangers last won one in '94. At this point I am compelled to point out that prior to winning in '94, the Rangers had last won the Cup in 1940.

And you know what? The extended periods of failure, interspersed with the occasional bursts of mediocrity and infrequent years of excellence are part of being a Rangers fan. Always have been. Always will be. When I was a boy the Rangers had a roster full of tremendous players, including my favorite player Rod Gilbert. They reached the Cup Finals on a couple of occasions but never won the title. It was only after Neil Smith became the GM and mastered the art of fleecing the Edmonton Oilers out of their best players (Mark Messier, Jeff Beukeboom, Adam Graves among others) that the Rangers won the Cup. For a considerable period of time in the post-'94 era after Smith was long gone (ultimately replaced by the guy he made a career out of besting in all of those deals with Edmonton Glenn Sather) the Rangers were among the NHL's worst teams. And where did those of us who are Rangers fans go during those dark, dark times? Nowhere. Well other than to the Garden for home games.

So yet another NHL season shall end without a Rangers championship. While it would have been great for what was a very exciting season to have ended in a tickertape parade up the Canyon of Heroes, it did not. Perhaps next season shall. And of all of us who are Rangers fans born and raised hope like hell that it shall, experience has taught us that it is far more likely that it shall not.

Either way we shall be good with it. As we always have been. For the Rangers shall be what they always have been: a warm memory of Sunday night trips on the train from New Brunswick, Nedick's hot dogs, Orange Juliuses and chanting "Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!" until we were hoarse when Eddie Giacomin returned to MSG in his first game in goal for the Red Wings after Emile Francis exiled him to Detroit....and of course "Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!" and all of the attendant bedlam that was 1994.

Cannot wait 'til next year right? Me neither. We are Rangers fans. That is how we roll.

-AK

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