“Regular fans need not apply”
By Rob Canone
As I prepared to sit down and finally write my contribution to this blog, I stared at the screen for a long time. Being a life-long Ranger fan whose life, at some point each day, touches this team and city it was very hard to pick and choose where to begin with my story. This is what most people do not understand about the “Ranger Fan”. We are more than fans…the team intertwines with our lives and becomes etched in family memories for generations.
Growing up on the south shores of Long Island during the heyday of that “other” franchise it would have been much more socially acceptable (and safer) to be one of that “other” teams fans. Thankfully, my family came from Brooklyn and brought with them the passion for the Rangers that was instilled into me at an early age (they also were Brooklyn Dodger fans but that’s another blog).
I recall one time when I was younger (probably late 80’s); my father took me to a Rangers game at that “other” team’s arena. Not sure why he brought me there but I remember just being surrounded by nonsensical people screaming profanities at my team. They didn’t know much about the game, all they really knew was how to hate anything that did not go their way, for any reason. It was the third period in a tie game when, unfortunately, that “other” team scored a goal for the win. I wouldn’t have been too upset except for the fact that the guy behind us, in his blind excitement for a meaningless win in another losing season, spilled his beer on my head. Yep, the hatred just grew from there.
The spring of ‘94 conjures up memories for all of us, but for those of us growing up near where that “other” team played, it took on a whole new meaning … going to high school without hearing the chants, wearing a jersey without getting any looks, a new generation of heroes apart from that of our parents.
Fasting forward to current day … I now have kids of my own, although the story is still the same for them. We live in New Jersey, near where that “other, other” team plays. Most of the kids here are fans of that “other, other” team so my guys now have to suffer the same pain as their old man. They have winded through the thrills and heartaches of these more recent seasons and are starting to realize what it means to bleed blue for this team…while I hope they will one day soon get to experience cup glory and the sense of euphoria that I and the entire city had back in ’94.
My grandmother every New Years Eve at midnight would open her screen door and always say “let the old year out and the new year in.” In a sense, this is very much what the Rangers have done over these past several years. They have abandoned the old philosophy of “buying from the outside” and have established a “build from within” mindset while adding building blocks and key pieces along the way, culminating with this summer’s acquisition of Rick Nash.
Will Rick Nash be that last piece of the puzzle that puts this team over the edge towards a cup? Team chemistry will play a big part and with a lockout looming I think the concern will be how much of this season will be lost and how long it could take for this team to gel. This coupled with a solid performance in the net from the King and Marty B and my thoughts are we should be there in the end. I hope Nash and Hank are to my kids as Messier and Richter were to me and can bring another cup home to the greatest city in the world.
A camp fit for a King: My son had the privilege on a recent weekend of participating in the first ever Henrik Lundqvist pro camp at the Brewster Ice Arena. Hank has been doing this camp for several years back in Sweden but this was the first turn here in the New York area. Around 70-80 kids (of which there were about 20 goalies surprise, surprise) spent two days on the ice with Henrik and some of the best coaches in the area. As expected, it was run orderly, efficiently and with the class you would expect from the Rangers and Hank. As a hockey parent and former athlete, I cringe at the actions and attitudes of some coaches of youth athletics (of all sports not just hockey). What some people tend to forget is that these are kids. It’s not the NHL, the goal should be to have fun and learn. Pick up your teammate when he is down and build camaraderie. This camp was a perfect example of how to meld all of these worlds together into a great experience.
Big thanks to Carp for letting me contribute. Let Go RANGERS!!