It’s hard to believe that 25 years ago curses were exorcised and people could finally die happy. June 14th, 1994 the New York Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in a seven game grudge match to win the Stanley Cup, the Blueshirts’ first in 54 years. Every Rangers fan, no matter their age, has been impacted in some way by that 1994 team. For years that 1994 team has felt like a specter looming over the team. Especially as they spent the late 90s and early 00s tripping over themselves and their checkbook into the pit of obscurity.
After the first lockout the Rangers, with the help of Jaromir Jagr and a fresh faced Henrik Lundqvist, began clawing out of the pit that they fell into eventually building themselves into a team that was just not quite good enough to reach the summit. Now the team is in full rebuild mode and the foundations of a future Stanley Cup contender are being put into place. What better time to look back at that ‘94 Rangers team and reminisce. Here are the thoughts of the writers of Blueshirt Banter on that memorably immortal group of Blueshirts.
June 14th, 1994 I was 3 years old. Just five days away from my 4th birthday, needless to say I don’t have many vivid memories of that night. However, my mom told me recently that my dad kept me up to watch the game through it’s heart pounding conclusion. Now while I don’t remember the game exactly, I do have very fond memories of the 94 team thanks to a very important video that played a huge part in my development as a Rangers fan.
I had this video on VHS and I would watch it start to finish over and over and over again. Watching this recap of the Stanley Cup Final enamored me to guys like Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, and Pavel Bure and John Davidson’s call of “get your cardiologist, can’t take much more of this” before The Penalty Shot is still iconic.
Growing up as a Rangers fan in the shadow of that 1994 team led to some resentment though. In the mid-00s, with the Rangers languishing in obscurity, it felt like the organization decided to overload the 1994 nostalgia by retiring the numbers of Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, and Mark Messier all in quick succession. It became too much too quickly and it caused me to get a bit jaded at that team.
Now though, times have changed for both myself and the Rangers. That 1994 team doesn’t seem as much like a shadow as it does a folk story to tell the younger generation about and to get them excited about what this team can be. Personally, the 94 team will always remind me of sitting in my living room, my dad huddled up next to me as we watch Mike Richter make save after save after save after save after save and JD guffawing after the last one.
I hope that memory lasts a lifetime.
As the elder statesman here at Banter, my ‘94 experience is unique relative to my colleagues given so many of them were still in diapers when it happened!
At the risk of completely dating myself here (hang tight, I’ll do that in a moment), I can still vividly remember the elation I felt when Leetch opened the scoring in game seven. John Amirante’s singing of the National Anthem that night — a practice I generally don’t care about — still gives me chills. The penalty shot. The save. Messier’s eruption of emotion the moment he was able to lift the Cup over his head. All of it made permanent a young boy’s fandom — one who’d just turned ten-years-old just four days prior.
Talk about an incredible belated gift.
I can even accurately recall the feeling I had receiving the Championship t-shirt and hat combo from my dad the very next day — items I still own to this day. The shirt, in fact, is in pristine condition. I just wish the Alexei Kovalev jersey I got for Christmas that year still fit.
For me, ‘94 was more than just a championship victory — it was a surreal life experience that would blaze a path for my undying loyalty to Rangers hockey.
My only hope is that Sam Rosen’s historic talk of “a lifetime” won’t ultimately serve as famous last words. Because this boy-made-super-fan is eagerly awaiting an opportunity to do it all over again. This time, with a kid of my own to share the experience with.
I recently read that humans only really start making memories when they are around 7. I was 8 when the Rangers won the Cup in 1994.
The memory that stands out the most to me is my older brother Kevin trying to explain just how big of a deal it was the day after it happened. I remember being enchanted when I watched SportsCenter the next morning. I remember Mark Messier’s celebration. I remember wondering why I had a bedtime and why I had to go to school after the Rangers just won the Cup. I mean, I had a jersey, didn’t I?
Most of my memories of the 1994 Cup run are little snapshots: Craig MacTavish’s helmet-less head and Esa Tikkanen’s soup bowl helmet; Sergei Zubov’s thick stubble and my brothers telling me that he smoked before games; Mike Richter and his legendary stop of Pavel Bure; Mike Keenan’s awful hair; the smooth skating of Brian Leetch.
Like most of us, I watched Game 7 and the rest of the 1994 Playoffs many years after it happened. I remember having a hockey card of Kovalev that displayed him getting showered by champagne and beer. I remember drawing posters for my oldest brother of the players who had transcended from athletes to superheroes because of what they accomplished. Those posters were on his walls for decades.
Really, what I remember most about 1994 and the Cup is how it brought my brothers and I together.