I know, most of you have not heard from me for a while, but I took a much needed vacation for four months from the grind of the job before starting up law school this week. I sincerely hope to continue to be a frequent contributor to my favorite (and the greatest) hockey blog this season, but in case my fears about the rigors of law school come true, Carp has graciously granted me an opportunity to share a little story with the Bonehead community I so adore before the storm starts. This isn’t my history of being a Rangers fan, though it has a little bit of that. It’s simply a little tale about how I came into possession of some awesome Rangers memorabilia.
My love for the Rangers began in 1992, when at the age of six, my father, as legend has it, decided to scalp tickets and take me to my first game. My dad quickly located a scalper and told him he’d take the cheapest tickets he had. After some haggling, the scalper told us to stay put, he’d be right back after he spoke with this “boss.” So my dad starts to walk away and I stand put telling him, “No! He told us to stay right here.”
So there we remained, in that exact spot upon my insistence, while my father tried to lecture me on the business of scalping tickets. After about twenty minutes the scalper came back as he made the rounds and sold us some cheap seats in the 400s. I can’t tell you who they played or who won, but I was hooked. Two years later my dad and I would be jumping on the bed of a hotel room in Hilton Head, SC, during a family vacation, while my mom and sister slept and Howie Rose yelled, “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” A moment like that you never forget.
Flash forward to the 1998-1999 season. My Pee-Wee hockey team, the New Rochelle Lightning make it to the Hudson Valley Class A Championship game, to be played in…Madison Square Garden. To say I was ecstatic over the idea of stepping onto the same ice as the Rangers is an understatement. This was the biggest deal of my 11 year old life and I needed to pull out all the stops to make it as memorable as possible. To make myself look official I needed to dress the part and sadly my worn out Vic skates simply would not do on a night like this. I took my savings, went to ANL Sports in White Plains and bought myself a brand new pair of Nike skates. And not just any pair, but the white ones, just likeWayne Gretzky. Not only would I be playing on Garden ice, but I’d be wearing Gretzky’s skates.
There was one little problem though – we didn’t have any practices before the game and anyone who’s put on new skates before, knows you need at least three or four good skating sessions to get them game-ready. I was convinced that if I slept in them every night they’d be broken in enough. While that was a terrible idea and did not work at all, it didn’t matter to me; I was wearing my new Nike skates at the Garden.
On the day of the big game we got to MSG around 3. Our game would be played at 4, before the Rangers played the Hurricanes that night. Once we were in the lockeroom I pulled out my new skates. Immediately my dad pulled them away from me and told me to wear the other skates, but I refused. Then my coach came over to try and convince me to wear my old skates. While we we’re arguing, entire the Rangers team walks into our lockeroom for a little meet and greet. We were all in awe at the chance to meet so many of our favorite players all at once. I got up, shook a ton of hands, and upon sitting back down, still in a daze, reached into my equipment bag to start getting ready. One problem – my Nike skates were missing.
I tore apart the room looking for them. I asked the coach where my dad went and if he had them, but he insisted he didn’t have them and they must be somewhere in the lockeroom. I went through everyone’s bags but to no avail. I was devastated. Not only would I be wearing my beat up old skates, but I lost my Gretzky skates.
Then, as I dejectedly laced up my Vics, my dad walked back into the lockeroom, holding my skates by the laces. “I could wear them!” I though to myself. But then I saw what he had done to them. After the Rangers walked out, he followed them, and with a black sharpie had Gretzky, Leetch, Richter, Beukeboom, and Savard sign the pair.
I didn’t think twice about wearing the Vics after that and the following day my dad took me to get another pair of Nike’s. We won the game and on top of winning the championship, we also got to play an intrasquad game between the 1st and 2nd periods. It was an amazing experience and one that I will never forget…I’ve got the Nike skates to remind me.
Hi boys and girls, it’s Carp … vacation’s almost over … but another one coming soon.
Thirty-six days until Opening Night.
36: Glenn Anderson. 36: Matthew Barnaby. 36: Rumun Ndur.