The first puck drop for the New York Rangers will be against the New York Islanders on July 29th in an exhibition game. The Blushirts will then take on the Carolina Hurricanes on August 1st in a qualifying round playoff series. Although this season has not panned out in the way any of us would have imagined, we came together as a staff to discuss the most basic reasons we love our Rangers.
What is your earliest hockey memory?
Mike: Hockey was a load-bearing structure in my childhood. The Murphys aren’t a religious folk, but we do hold hockey and its various traditions as sacred. Long before my first game at Madison Square Garden or the fuzzy memory of my brother explaining to my eight-year-old ears that the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, I remember the family room. Our family room was a cauldron of unreasonably intense competition that started with knee hockey (the coffee table made a perfect net) that evolved into games of Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit as my brothers and I got older and could put up something a little less than competition against my dad. We played knee hockey and street hockey for decades. I remember the friction of playing on my knees scorching holes through my sweatpants and creating large blisters on my prepubescent skin that always tore and would stick horribly to the fabric. I remember the debate over who got to use the “good stick” and dreading when my older brother Kevin insisted on using the ball made from the densest foam. The denser the ball, the harder the shots. Harder shots made for more satisfying goals (one-timers, all day, every day) and more hilarious injuries. It also added an element of danger to some Lord of the Flies-like activities. The one that I remember best is one of my older brothers encouraging the young-lings to dart and dodge his shots while he aimed for our faces and crotches. Aren’t brothers the best?
Joe: I remember going to a Rangers game, I don’t remember how long ago, and Bobby Holik scored a goal and a guy said “If you’re that ugly you shouldn’t be allowed to score a goal.” I think I was six-ish.
Kevin: Sitting down in my living room watching the ‘94 Stanley Cup VHS tape.
Adam: February 3rd, 1996. The Rangers lost, 7-1, to the Avalanche. I cried.
Bryan: I remember going to my first ever game at MSG in 2006 against the Tampa Bay Lightning and sitting down in the lower bowl watching Martin St. Louis fly around the ice. Unfortunately, the Rangers never wound up scoring a goal and lost on a Vinny Propsal snipe in overtime
Tom: Going to a game at MSG with my Dad and stopping at Gerry Cosby’s beforehand. Stan Fischler was there, although at the time I didn’t know who he was. I remember sitting at my seat in the 200s at center ice just taking everything in. One of my dad’s coworkers worked at MSG on game nights keeping track of shots on goal and he brought me a puck and a copy of the media notes. It was a really awesome time, and something I think about whenever I am at a game just looking into space when there isn’t any game action going on.
Shayna: I am blanking a bit here, but I would guess something along the lines of my mom waking us up to celebrate playoff series wins and things like that. If we fell asleep before games ended, we said that we’d want to be woken up if they won.
Jack: I remember watching Game 4 of the 2006 ECQF’s against the Devils in my brother’s room, and I saw the Rangers were losing and on the verge of getting swept, (not that I was aware of that, I was seven years old) so I turned the game off and started playing Sonic Heroes on the PS2. Fun game, wish I could play it now actually. Other early memories are my brother coming into my room and celebrating the team sweeping the Thrashers in the 2007 ECQF’s, going to Game 3 of the 2007 ECSF’s against Buffalo and getting two Sabres fans kicked out for throwing popcorn at them, and being at Game 82 of the 2007-08 season against the Devils where the teams played for home ice in the ECQF series they were locked into. Only time in my life I’ve seen a team pull their goalie late in the game when they’re not trailing (Rangers needed a regulation win to jump the Devils, Devils just needed to get the game to overtime to secure home ice, which they did and eventually won in a shootout).
Brianna: My earliest hockey memory is from when I was around 6 years-old and I went to my first Rangers’ hockey game at Madison Square Garden with my dad. I remember stepping into the arena and the cold just hitting my face. I remember watching the players skate up and down the ice, totally in awe of how they were able to do so much while skating (I had taken lessons and I was lucky I could ice skate in a straight line). The game just kept moving and I loved every second of it. Them winning the game was the cherry on top for me.
What or who got you into the Rangers?
Mike: There was no choice in the matter. I had to be a Rangers fan because two of the three older brothers that could destroy me with a single punch were Rangers fans. The other was a Devils fan who also had a gentler touch. Being a Rangers fan was something I did out of self-preservation and to share something with my brothers.
Joe: My father.
Kevin: My dad sat me down and, in his words, “created a monster.”
Adam: My dad was a Rangers fan. I grew up in North Jersey during the Devils’ Cup years and that my rebellious and masochistic nature only solidified that commitment.
Bryan: My dad.
Tom: My dad.
Shayna: My dad was an Islanders fan, while my mom was (and is) a Rangers fan. We got to choose who we aligned with. I remember my parents bringing home scrunchies, one Islanders’ and two Rangers’, and my two sisters and I argued over who would get stuck with the Islanders’ one (spoiler: it was not me).
Jack: My dad, and by extension my brothers. My oldest brother was really into the Rangers and still is to this day, the other older brother not so much. They both still play though.
Brianna: My dad has always been a huge and passionate Rangers fan. In my parents’ wedding video, there was a video clip of my Dad kissing the ‘94 Stanley Cup at Belmont Racetrack from ESPN. I used to hear him watching games from the other room when I was little. There really was no choice, I was bound to become a Rangers fan too.
Who are your favorite or top three Ranger players?
Mike: I had posters of Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, but I also remember having a full-page picture of Ulf Samuelsson ripped out of a Sports Illustrated. Probably from an article that accused him of murder. With that being said, I’ll go with Leetch, Zuccarello, and Lundqvist. I also hold an unreasonable amount of affection for Michael Nylander, Radek Dvorak, and Martin Rucinsky and was very much on the Ryan Callahan bandwagon.
Joe: Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch
Kevin: Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Jaromir Jagr
Adam: Adam Graves, Mats Zuccarello, Marian Gaborik
Bryan: Mark Messier, Henrik Lundqvist, Artemi Panarin
Tom: Brad Richards, Henrik Lundqvist, Pavel Buchnevich
Shayna: Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Henrik Lundqvist
Jack: Marian Gaborik, Derick Brassard, and Mika Zibanejad. Ironic considering they’re all on one path of Gaborik’s NYR trade tree.
Brianna: Adam Graves, Henrik Lundqvist, Chris Kreider
What are you looking forward to the most when hockey returns?
Mike: Making enough money to pay rent? Sorry, that got a little real. Honestly, I’m looking forward to hockey of any kind but I still think this is a tremendously dangerous idea that is simply not worth the risk. I love hockey as much as anyone, but I (and we) don’t need it badly enough to further endanger athletes.
Joe: Being hurt again.
Kevin: Watching Artemiy Panarin and the young players again.
Adam: Playoff overtimes!
Bryan: Watching the Rangers play some meaningful playoff hockey when the season resumes at the hubs. This is probably the most I’ve enjoyed watching since the playoff runs a couple years back, and to have some hockey during the summer makes it even more exciting.
Tom: Watching games with my nephew. He just turned 7 and is getting it hockey, and has watched almost every re-run that’s been on the NHL Network, NBC Sports, MSG etc. during the pause.
Shayna: Sports provide such a nice distraction from what’s going on in the world. I think we all needed to actually listen to what was going on in the world, and not having sports forced us to listen to everything else a bit more closely. But honestly, I’ve realized how many of my conversations revolve around sports... and I liked that better than awkwardly trying to figure out something to talk about when literally nothing is going on.
Jack: The possibility of the Rangers playing meaningful games for the first time in three years. The 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons were wastelands as far as compelling reasons to watch the Rangers go, but this season has been different. Anything that gets the team playing meaningful games is something to look forward to.
Brianna: I am just really looking forward to getting to sit down in our living room and watch games with my Dad again, regaining a small sense of normalcy. There’s also some comfort in knowing we’ll get to hear Sam and Joe soon too. The fact that hockey is returning and it’s playoff hockey, makes this time even more exciting. Nevertheless, I hope that everyone involved stays safe.
Let’s Go Rangers!