Friday, June 14, 2013

Nostalgia and Other Assorted Waxes

Sentimentality is always about a Lie.
Nostalgia is about real things Gone.
Nobody truly mourns a Lie.

-Pete Hamill

Nineteen years.  It was nineteen years ago on this very day that the New York Rangers - a team for whom I have rooted passionately for as long as I can remember - captured the only Stanley Cup that I have ever seen them win.  I am forty-six years old.  For Rangers fans, my "once in my lifetime" moment is one that is shared by everyone of us born after 1940.  Two Cups in seventy-three years.  Only prohibitionists and camels go as long between drinks as those of us who bleed Rangers blue. 

Nineteen years ago.  A moment in time so long ago that I was not yet a member of the Bar.  The Summer of '94 was a summer I spent (well, June and July anyway) studying for the Bar exams in the State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The BAR/BRI class for which I had signed up, which was given in a conference room at a hotel located within about three miles of where my daughter shall be married in September, was populated by a small but intense group of Rangers fans.  We held our collective breath through the heavyweight fight that was the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils, a confrontation that ended with the exclamation of the only French word I ever learned to pronounce correctly

Somewhere, someplace Anastasia Yonezuka shall read this and smile.

With the Devils vanquished, it was hoped (by me at least) that the Cup Finals would be a bit easier task to complete.  They were not.  Was it not for the incredible play of Mike Richter (his generation's Henrik Lundquist for those of you not old enough to remember), the Rangers would not have headed home from Vancouver after Game Four with a 3-1 lead.  Among his other amazing feats was his absolute stoning of "The Russian Rocket" Pavel Bure on a penalty shot in Game Four - with every Canucks fan in the joint waving those idiotic white towels they waved incessantly from opening faceoff to final whistle

No franchise in professional sports has a more consistent history for subjecting its fans to abject torture than the Rangers.  On the verge of winning their first Cup in fifty-four years, they flew back across the continent for Game Five at the Garden and were blown out of their own building.  Game Six in Vancouver went no better.  Suddenly, only one week removed from the cusp of making history, they flew home for Game Seven determined to not snatch defeat from Victory's jaws. 

Game Seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals was not the most artistic hockey game I have witnessed in my lifetime but its place in the pantheon of special moments right next to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Hockey game is forever secure.  As I sat on the floor of the living room of our little "flood house" on Third Street counting down the final seconds, it felt as if they would never expire.  It felt as if the clock would never reach 00:00.   But of course, it finally did

Somewhere, someplace Dad saw this unfold.  And he smiled.  I did too.  I still do.

Ah, nostalgia....


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