This ain’t exactly the closing of the Montreal Forum or Chicago Stadium or Boston Garden.
The Rangers (barring a playoff series against the Penguins) make their final visit to the Igloo tonight. The oldest building in the league is closing after this season — making Madison Square Garden the World’s Oldest NHL Arena.
No doubt the Rangers memories there are mostly forgettable: The Pittsburgh fans who think every single call or non-call is a complete consipracy against their team, their city. The blood-in-the-water way the Penguins — in their glory years and their down years — would quickly follow one goal with another and (in many cases, against the Rangers) another and maybe even another.
This is the place where Ron Francis scored on Mike Richter from outside the blue line (a 70-footer that, over time, has been stretched to 90 or even 100 feet) in the 1992 playoffs.
This is the place where Theo Fleury, at the end of a road trip on which all his personal demons resurfaced, took a bunch of penalties and instead of going to the box, he left the ice, went and sat on the team bus, claiming he was retiring.
I remember one game during either the Ron Low era or the Muckler era where Floyd Smith, a former NHL coach and then a scout, sat in the pressbox watching an awful Rangers-Penguins game and, in his gruff, gravelly voice, repeatedly going, “Jeeeeesus Christ.”
And Kevin Stevens, in his booming, hilarious way, telling Muckler outside the arena, “(I) scored a couple of big ones in this barn, Johnny.”
This is the place where Phil Esposito fired Michel Bergeron with two games left in the ’88-89 season. It’s also the place where I had the pleasure and honor of watching playoff games on a TV in Scotty Bowman’s office, with Scotty.
I won’t miss it even a little bit.
LATE MORNING UPDATE, 11:32 a.m.: Marian Gaborik is going out for the morning skate at the moment, which should determine if he’ll be able to play tonight, although it could still be a game-time (after warmups) decision.
And in a few minutes, Donald Brashear should clear waivers (at noon). Then perhaps the Rangers will send him down or release him, although there’s no reason they couldn’t keep him around.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: Reports from Pittsburgh are that Gaborik is doubtful for tonight after skating with the team this morning.
Brashear cleared waivers at noon, but there is no immediate transaction, i.e. sending him to Hartford or releasing him. He will not play tonight, and does not have to be removed from the roster just because he cleared waivers.