Inspiried by Tripodi:
"So the Rangers helped me have a great relationship with my dad and they will always be great memories to me because of our connection in hockey. I never really thought about until now, but I feel lucky to have a dad like that because I know there are Ranger fans that probably wished to grow up watching the Rangers as a family like I did. I hadn't really appreciated that until I realized what it did for me."
((I read Tripodi's fanpost [ http://www.blueshirtbanter.com/2010/12/9/1865674/growing-up-with-the-rangers ] and felt like I can relate))
How unbelievably true and honest this is. Im not one to share sad or feel good stories like this but after reading the piece written by Tripodi I figured I would add a little about me and my Ranger history to this banter. After all, I might be the only Polish fan on here. Whatever that may mean.
For my 4th Christmas I got a box with the 2 plastic hockey sticks, orange ball and puck, and 2 small nets. Then the Rangers reached the Eastern Conference Finals and instead of watching the Power Rangers or The Price is Right on tv, I sat by my dad watching the Rangers beat the Devils in game 6 at the other home arena in the swamps. Do I remember this? Well call me crazy and full of it but I have an exceptional memory and I remember that moment. Not because I was watching this historic game but because that was the first time I tasted a beer (Heineken). My dad gave me a sip and just laughed. He wasn't your typical drinking pole but he enjoyed a nice beer in front of a classic game, and I got a sip.
Fast forward, the next 4 years defined my life, in a way. I started playing roller hockey at Juniper Park in Middle Village in '96. Without trying to brag, I pretty much dominated the league. This was probably because of practicing in the street with my dad at 4PM in the street on Mondays and Wednesdays, in between my soccer practices. I immediately fell in love with the game. And soccer. The rest is history.
When i was 6, I learned my dad had cancer and so the practices in the street were now just every once in awhile. I stayed watching all the games with him. But I was only able to watch until the 2nd period because 9PM was my bedtime. Then in the mornings when he woke up at 5 for work (before all that chemo), the first thing on the tv was ESPN, which was left on until I left for school at 7:30 just so I could see the score of the game.
Then in 1999, Gretzky's last game. My dad told me about it and he was so excited to watch the game. However, our close friends (well my parents friends) came down from MA and they wanted to see some show on Broadway blah, blah, blah. My dad was obviously not up for that but he took one for the team. I remember he told me to watch Gretz on every shift and see how he passes the puck, and takes his slapshots. As a reward he would bring me back Micky D's from the city. Being able to prove my Ranger passion to my own dad was a reward in itself. The happy meal was an extra.
I don't recall watching my dads last game with him but there were games that stook out in my mind over the years. Obviously '94, '97 vs Florida, '98, '99 seasons, May not seem like much but those years were the years I cherish greatly. Even losing the the Flyers and Devils games stick out in my mind. My dad was raised as a soccer guy in Poland, came to the US in '89, planned on making $ and going back but then I came along and somehow we settled in Queens. After his passing, I did everything in his memory, sticking to soccer, hockey, my Rangers and other futbol teams. Over the years, that passion grew greater and helped me keep his memory around. Without trying to share my grief with others and bring out the sad past, I just shared my Rangers passion that my dad instilled in me. My mom is a Rangers fan. She calls me during the games and even if she can't pronounce half the names of the players she still tries to call me when im away at school and let me know that she is watching the game too. Since he met my mom and I, my stepdad (not officially married together) grew tolerant of my Ranger mania. He fell into the whole thing for a little and now watches the games everytime i shoot both of them a text that "rangers vs sindy crybaby @7 on ch. 78(fios) ".
My dad was the first one to come here from the motherland, but being the sports fanatic that he was, he fell in love with the Rangers. Being that he was my best friend and because of the immense influence he had on me, I obviously became a die-hard fan. So like Tripodi mentioned in his fanpost, I wanted to thank my dad for introducing this passion, hobby, and overall appreciation for hockey and other sports to me. Even if he may not be here, I always had a feeling he would like it if I took the positives of our time spent together rather than the sickness he tried to overcome, which eventually took his life at such an early age. The Rangers for one, keep me close to him and help me cope with the loss. Now ever since the lockout, I can probably count the number of games I've missed to this point on one hand. By mentioning that, all I want to say is that if you have kids/will have kids, introducing them to this passion is only beneficiary and helpful in the long run. Im not going to go into any psychological or mental aspects of this statement, but to summarize this ridiculously long and possibly pointless post (nevermind the boozing we did tonight, and other stuff) I guess I just wanted to share my Rangers history with the banter (and in away thank my dad for this).
"So what I'm getting at is to cherish your grandpa or your father for showing you this great sport, because they really deserve the praise. Sorry if this all sounds weird, I just can't sleep and I thought how thankful I am to still have my dad around, because I know a lot of other people sure miss their dad."
Couldn't have said this better myself. Cheers!