Twenty years later: Still the best night in Rangers history


My column from The Journal News and

By Rick Carpiniello

If there was a moment on that June 14, 1994, night that told you about the Rangers, it was shortly after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final had ended, a 3-2, hearts-in-throats, dragon-slaying victory over the Vancouver Canucks at the Garden.

Brian Leetch had just been told that he would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, the first American to do so.

Leetch sought out now-six-time champion Mark Messier, as he so often had, and tried to convince him that it should be a team award and that his teammates should come up with him.

“He put his arms around me and said, ‘No, no, no, no. You earned it. You go up there. And then you come back to the team,’ ” Leetch remembered. “Then they announced my name, I went up, picked it up, took some pictures, put it down and went right back to the team. That’s where my comfort level was.Jubilant New York Rangers' captain Mark Messier hoists the S

“Being singled out at that moment, after being in the locker rooms and seeing guys beat up, day after day … you did it as a group. It was uncomfortable. That was the last place I wanted to be, even though that was something I was striving for — to be able to play your best and be noticed for playing your best. But to get to that point, after all we did as a group, it’s not someplace you really want to be.”

Sharing was something that team did, after its first Cup in 54 years and now its only one in 74, with a starved city and its environs, on a night Sam Rosen said “will last a lifetime” and for which a fan said, via a hand-made poster: “Now I can die in peace.” And there were others during the parade: “My Grandfather Thanks You, My Father Thanks You and I Thank You.”

On that day in the Canyon of Heroes, Mike Richter, riding in one of the floats, bathed in the celebration of the estimated 1.5 million-plus there and turned to Messier and Leetch and said, “I wish we could get a flat tire so we could stay right here.”

“My favorite memory is taking the Metro-North train from White Plains into the city for the parade,” Adam Graves said, “and getting on the train with (wife) Violet, and within two stops the entire car being full, and then the cars on either side being full of blue, singing, telling stories. It was my favorite train ride I’ve ever had.

“It was a celebration amongst the bigger Ranger family — something that will always stay with me.”

That is what was unique about the ’94 Cup. Immediately after the Rangers had their turn on the ice with it, Messier brought it over to the glass, where fans could reach over and touch it. That night, outside the Auction House on the Upper East Side, Esa Tikkanen allowed hundreds if not thousands of fans to hold it. For the better part of a month, New York shared it. It was on all the talk shows, and the Yankees issued a press credential for “Stanley Cup,” which was escorted to a game by Messier and Leetch.

“Our team in ’94 was very approachable,” Messier said. “We immersed ourselves in the community. We attached ourselves to charities, we were out in the public, we had a good time, and I think the fans could really identify with us. And we told our stories through the media, which enabled the fans to get to know the players. When they came to the rink, they had the ability to cheer for the team on more than just an entertainment level.”

Messier was asked if he’s paid for a drink in the city since 1994.

“A few,” he smiled. “But not many.”

Leetch didn’t know about sharing the Cup in that way.

“It all started with Mark,” he said. “He’d won five of them before. He knew the right thing to do at the right time. He brought it over to everybody at the glass, and I would have had no idea to do that. You’re a deer in the headlights. You just won it, and you’re swept up in the current.”

That night had been one of terror and joy, the sweaty-palms thought of blowing what had been a 3-1 series lead by losing a potential clincher at home in Game 5, then another in Game 6.

“There was just the feeling that you knew this was it, one way or another,” Leetch said. “There was no ‘Let’s try and finish it out’ or ‘Let’s get this over with.’ You had that buffer for a couple of games where things didn’t go well. … But you knew at that point, this was it. There was a finality coming at some point.”

Some say it was the longest 10 minutes of their lives, the second half of that third period. But those Rangers, now the favorite team in franchise history, held on.

“That was about as close a team as you’re going to find,” Graves said. “It’s funny because over the years — and we have teammates who are all over the globe — but when we do get together, other than we all look a bit older, and except for maybe Mess we’re not in as good a shape as we used to be, we don’t miss a beat. That is the one thing that stays eternal.

“People ask, ‘Well, what was it like as a player?’ And I say, ‘In New York, the same feeling we had as players, New Yorkers had, Rangers fans, the larger Ranger family had.’

“That’s why it was such a unique championship.”

Twitter: @RangersReport

Photos by Getty Images.


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  1. Orr
    I like ott, wouldn’t be my first choice as a 3rd line ctr, but I do like him.

  2. I think NYR should go after Stastny. Guy is not a first line center but still the best available, and will be overpaid, but I’m alright with it. I don’t see him as another Richards because he is a much more complete and rugged player, not to mention younger. NYR don’t have much in the way of assets to acquire a center of his caliber by other means.

  3. I agree, Latona!

    Not many I’d want on that list. Legwand looked pretty good with the Wings. Ott is going to get overpaid, and not provide much offense.

    Stastny is the only guy that improves the team. Anyone else, not much of an upgrade past Neigh.

  4. Carp, loved the article. I was hoping to have a new reason to get goosebumps this year. Almost.

  5. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Ricardo – thank you. Beautiful story

    Let’s go rangers
    Let’s go rangers
    Let’s go rangers

  6. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    I’d go for Gomez. Within a year we could trade him for a stud and another no Gomez

  7. Stranger Nation on

    _Need more size and grit in top 6 and at centre and wing_
    _Like to see at least one physical guy added to blueline if not two_

    Playable Toughness??

  8. Stranger Nation on

    Centers: if Stastny comes, would keep either Bros or Step (prefer Bros) and sign Legwand or Ott.

    Trade Bait: Staal, Nash, & Step got to bring back something

  9. ZzZz NYR ZzZz©" Don't Stepan THE logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    I woke up this morning to see a envelope pushed under my door. I was wondering , fathers day isn’t until tommorow so….can’t be a card for that. Then I opened it up and it was a pritty serious looking sympathy card. I was wondering omg who died!!??? I was kinda nervous in a slight panick as I started to read , “With Sympathy . As close as a whisper and remembered with every heartbeat , precious in though and memory….( As I opened the card) ,Sharing in the sadness of your loss With heartfelt Sympathy …( he wrote) Over the next year may what you hoped for may become yours ; Larence PS They will have to get by the habs.

    Whoa , I wanted to kill him!!!

  10. ZzZz NYR ZzZz©" Don't Stepan THE logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    Trade Nash , he wont pass on a 2 – 1 . He always shoots and does NOT score. Kreider must of had fits playing with him. Nash screws up the cycle a lot. I know he still concussed but when you get to the big Stanley Cup stage and you can’t preform…the lights go out in broad way.

  11. ZzZz NYR ZzZz©" Don't Stepan THE logo!!!"...says Greg L. on

    We don’t have to blow this team up like Pittsburgh’s panick situation. Just trade Nash and Staal . Buy out Richie and make st.Louis captain.

  12. Sather and team must consider what’s be available not only now, but next year and the year after too. Be very cautious committing long term bucks to less than in their prime, A level players. Cap implications – Don’t want to be stuck with another Richards type and no buy out option. If so, it’ll be another 20 years before we reach the finals again.

  13. I wouldn’t trade Staal. What are we getting back for him? Are you trading him just for the sake of trading him?

    I also wouldn’t trade Step. That’s silly talk.

    Nash is another story. But, he is an albatross. He’s not going anywhere unless he wants to (NMC). Rangers will also have to pay part of that salary. And, if so, he will dictate terms of where…not an easy task to trade him…

  14. Only way I’d trade Staal is WITH Nash for something ultra-sweet. No to trading Stepan.

  15. ‘Pull the string and I’ll wink at you, I’m your puppet.
    I’ll do funny things if you want me to, I’m your puppet.’

  16. NYR might have to trade Stahl, because I can see him leaving NYR next summer.

    Crazy as it may sound, you just can’t ignore the fact that Carolina has the tree other Stahl/Staal/Stall brothers. That would give them tree gingers and one blonde, so Stahl would fit in.

    His trade value isn’t what it once was because of the injuries, and now because he has one year left.

  17. Rangers are in caphell, youse guys can hope for high priced UFA’s but no way in caphell can it happen. Rangers (without Richards) have exactly 11 roster players signed for next year and even after buying out Richards will have a bit over 24 million to sign or promote at least 11 players. This includes giving raises to Thekreider and Zuccarello, hoping Brassard accepts his qualifier which is 3.7 mill. Now, I think we want Boyle, D Moops, and Pouliot back and hopefully Stralman.

    The way I figure, the number for our RFA’s is probably going to come in around 11 million, that leaves 13 million to pay for 2 centers, 3 wings and 2 defensemen.

    Boyle, Dmoops, and Pouliot – maybe 5 to 6 million, that leaves at best 7 million for another center, a wing and 2 d-men. Put Stralman on that payroll (hopefully before 7/1, and you’re down to at most 4 million and still need 3 players. Ain’t no UFA’s coming here next year unless it’s a Slat’s bargain basement special.

    Only way this team has a shot at a UFA is if they trade Nash and take nothing but picks/prospects back and we’re absolutely going to have to eat salary, nobody’s going to pay 7.8 million for a 50 point player. Well, at least nobody outside of NY right now.

  18. Ria( the silent bonehead) on

    Carp thank you for responding to my request last post. Sweet post brings back memories, made me smile thanks ;)

  19. The Leetch goal to open game 7 will always be my favorite Ranger goal of all time.

    Then we raced after the game from Bay Ridge to MSG, where it was like Fat Tuesday.

    Man that was great – the last parade I was ever at and would ever go to.

    Hey Lings – you guys can keep your bounces, just give us a Mulligan on our turnovers. You erase those, and we’re still playing Monday. SACAGEWEA!!!

  20. Nash is relationship with fans can never be repaired, I expect boos early and often next year.

  21. I really don’t care if he has a good regular season. All it comes down to is the playoffs. Hank had a bit of an off year, but he stepped his game up for the home stretch and the playoffs.

    Nash can’t handle the pressure of a big market. He belongs in a small market. It’s too much to handle. If he were drafted by a big market team, maybe it would be different. He went from ten years in Columbus to going to NY. He fades away when he’s needed the most.

  22. Completely agree Orr.

    Like I said earlier the fans will never show him the love anymore.

  23. Once breakup day comes I’m signing off. Need get away fir awhile.

    A lot decisions be made in next month. Sather better be smart about these

  24. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Funny thing about Nash is that he wanted the a Rangers. Wanted the big stage. Some players can really elevate their game when the stakes are the highest. Nash did a lot well. Just didn’t score and, sadly, that’s why he was traded for. I don’t think Stepan really helped Nash much. I don’t want Spezza, but that’s the type of Player Nash needs centering him. Step cannot carry the puck. He just dumps and chases…

  25. Spezza Thornton Kesler stasny.

    Sather trades for Thornton. 3 yrs at 6.75 per. Thornton another career lose with Nash who have had a history.

  26. Nash had a 41, 40, 38 goal season as well as faw other 30 goal seasons with average linemates. He’s a guy that doesn’t need a top center/winger.

    He just doesn’t fit here. Can’t throw Step-On under the bus for Nash’s lack of production.

  27. Cross Check Charlie on

    I posted this on another forum and didn’t get an answer. Maybe somebody here can enlighten me.

    I have a question for those that play on ice. Why is it that a big strong guy like Nash always seems to be falling down or off balance on his skates? I don’t see other players falling down as much as him and too often he doesn’t get a good shot off or has the puck taken away because he’s off balance – in fact, he looks like me when I was learning to skate on roller blades (whooooooa oooooooh. oooooooh……CRASH).

  28. I’m guessing the Devils will take Gomez back now. No one else wants that hot potato.

  29. awesome avatar, aneirin!

    Thanks to all for the kind words today. I’m just doing my job. You guys do all the work :)

  30. anerin, stranger to WC at poker table – “Is this a game of chance?”
    Fields: “Not the way I play it, no.”

  31. I think Dustin Byfuglien has to be in the conversation of who to get this offseason.

    And I think a Canadian team will want Nash and he’ll want to go there.

  32. I doubt Nash having a good center will cure his lack of stamina, compete and grit.

    In 6 playoff series covering 38 games over 2 years, the only takeaway for me is that regularly, shift after shift, he stayed clear of the greasy areas. His predictable play was to throw hopeless “shots” at the net from ridiculous distance and angles rather than power through a check or chip the puck in deep to chase and battle for it. Forecheck, cycle and grit are not weapons in his arsenal. He missed more pass attempts to teammates than he connected on.

    A player of his size, skill and salary should be making those he plays with better, not vice a versa.

  33. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Orr -sorry to burst your bubble but those goal stats you quoted for Nash are the “old Nash” – the Nash of 2014 ain’t doing anything like that unless he has help from his pivot. Our Nash is a powerless forward.

  34. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Papa – Nash does have trouble staying on his feet. He also can’t drive hard to the net hard in traffic anymore. He still has a quick release and good shot, regular season emphasis added, if a pivot can get him the puck.

  35. William Claude Dukenfield

    ‘It’s a funny old world— a man’s lucky if he gets out of it alive.’

    On Nash and Stepan and for that matter Thekreider, Nash is one of those rare ‘superstars’ who actually makes his linemates look worse. He has tunnel vision, there’s the puck and there’s him and there’s a place he can shoot from, he rarely sees his linemates and he rarely uses his linemates and when he hasn’t got the puck he rarely finds an open place, the few times he does and gets a clean pass, half the time he’ll flub it and the other half he’ll shoot right into the goalie.

    I really, really dislike Nash. He’s a guy with talent but he’s just a bad hockey player. What he is, is a shooter. He scores as many goals as he does because he takes so many shots on goal, he’s got a quick release (his only major asset) and the law of averages says that a certain percentage will find the back of the net. He’s not a sniper, he aims for the middle of the net and hopes he catches the goalie unawares or by chance gets a corner. Since he decided the slot is too dangerous, his shooting percentage has gone south because of this m.o. He flops in the playoffs because the goaltending tends to be superior to the regular season, it’s no coincidence that the only goals he scored were off second stringers.

    When he was in Columbus, he could get away with this because Columbus was a bad team in a small market and everybody saw his stats. Well, it’s Goodbye, Columbus right now and he’s being exposed.

  36. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    The Kings are a tight knit group. All but Willie Mitchell live in Manhattan Beach. Many of the player are walking distance to each other a fad most just minutes away…

  37. The line I really want to see next year is Thekreider, Stepan and St. Louis, put an actual finisher who knows how to get open with those two, who can both pass extraordinarily well, and you’ll see eyepopping stats.

  38. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Stepan doesn’t carry into the zone. He dumps and chases. MSL’s strength isn’t driving I to the corner fetching pucks. MSL would be better served with Brassard as his center IMHO.

  39. Stepan is the guy who springs Thekreider, you’ve seen the kind of passes Stepan can make in the zone. Msl doesn’t need to chase down pucks on that line, because the other two can cycle it well enough. When Nash is out there, the cycle always breaks down because he couldn’t protect the puck if he had the Marine Corps backing him up.

  40. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Aneirin – You need a “boyeeeeeeeeeeeeee” at the end of that.

  41. Riverboat, ring your bell,
    Fare thee well, Annabel.
    Luck is the lady that he loves the best.

  42. Nash is supposed to be in his prime. He’s not a 36 year old like Richards.

    Step-On, Bro, Neigh, Stastny, Kesler, Spezza or whoever else. This guy isn’t supposed to need a top center. He’s not a pure sniper that need to be fed.

    Forget it! No point in arguing aboot it! *HE’S USELESS AND NEEDS TO BE TRADED*

  43. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    I agree that once play is set up in the zone stepan has a keen eye and has shown the ability to thread a needle. I also agree with your assessment regarding Nash in your last several posts.

    At this of his career, MSL needs a Kopitar type. A horse that can carry hin and draw the defense to him…Is step that guy? I guess we will find out…

  44. Whistle me up a memory
    Whistle me back where I want to be
    Whistle a tune that will carry me

  45. Now in the legend of the west,
    One name stands out of all the rest.
    The man who had the fastest gun,

  46. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Orr – I hear you. I’m suggesting that if the rangers keep Nash and want to maximize his ability, he needs a strong center. What you think he should be able to do and what he shows that he can do are miles apart. If we want him to score, Nash needs help. That’s all I’m saying.

  47. Carefree as the tumbleweeds, ajoggin’ along with a heart full of song
    And a rifle and a volume of the law.

  48. The wind that blows, that comes and goes, has been your only home.
    But will the wild wind one day cease and you’ll no longer roam?

  49. The Kreider progressed very nicely this season. If he can overcome the remaining inhibition he has about dominating his opponent, he’ll become a superstar power forward.

  50. If you hum those old theme songs, you are too.

    Hey Wild Bill, wait for me.

    Yaaa, Rinny

    Hey Cisco
    Hey Pancho

    Hiyo Silver, away

  51. Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’
    Though the streams are swollen
    Keep those doggies rollin’

  52. Old Ranger Fan on

    The problem with Nash is that he has now been exposed on the biggest hockey stage in the world. As big as he is, he is knocked off the puck very easily. He is the anti-Jagr. His value has plummeted. Sather better find out where Bob Gainey is working now if he wants to trade him. They may have to hold on to him, hope he puts up some decent numbers next and trade him at the deadline.

  53. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    I don’t ever remember Nash ever falling down as much as he had over the last 6 months. It’s like he has a brain tumor, god forbid, and his balance is all out of whack.

  54. Ranger-on-the-Isle on

    Safe to say that Nash is going to hear boos every game in the garden. He needs to decide if that is going to be 1-3 games as an opposing player or 41+ as a Ranger. Methinks he waives that NMC, or provides Sather a list of places he’d be willing to go.
    Great article Carp, and thanks for everything!

  55. Hagerstown MD.Rangers fan on

    Carp just wanted to thank you for what you do. I know I’m merely echoing what all the other bone heads have already said but it truly is a pleasure to read your Rangers report every morning. I always eagerly look forward to your unbiased analysis. Thanks again.
    Now I’m wondering Carp do you think the Rangers can unburden themselves from Nash? Would any other team really be interested in his services? What is your take on that?
    Very proud of our Rangers. Been a fan since 1980-81 season and outside of 94 have not had as much fun as this. I only hope we do not have to wait a long time for a return to the SCF. I’m 50 now and as any hockey player will tell you, you only get so many chances to kick the can. This Ranger team I think deserved a better fate. As has been said so many times wait till next year.

  56. Old Ranger Fan on

    If the team starts well he’ll be ok. If they falters the fans will need a whipping boy and he will be it. They will feel with some justification that if scored a couple of goals in the Finals we would have won the cup.

    My hope is that he is still recovering from the concussions and turns it around next year, He seems to really have balance problems. But, I don’t even play a doctor on TV so it is only a hope.

  57. Hagerstown MD.Rangers fan on

    If Nash stars the season horribly then he will have no value whatsoever.

  58. His value is pretty low now. Slats has enough on his plate trying to resign the roster for now, Unless someone is dumb enough make a Gomez like trade they should be patient and hope he is good enough next season to recover some value for him. If he stinks next year they may be looking at a Drury type non amnesty buyout.

  59. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    I still say aside from his scoring drought, Nash played well. He was good in his own end and he was hitting everything in sight.

  60. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Nash is going anywhere. Tons if confidence issues that a good shrink can remedy. I think he’ll have a monster year.

  61. Carp, great story. So many memories of Section 402, Row A, Seat 7. 20 years ago came back to me over the past few weeks and especially the last few days.

    I have to thank you for this truly addictive piece of the world wide web and it’s thankfully small cluster of fans/boneheads. It has become required reading for me on a daily basis.

    I’ve been away from blog participation for most of the playoffs, due to a heinous schedule and the fear that once I started down a tangent here, I would lose the next hour or so reading and responding.

    But I will be here getting my Rangers hot stove fix from the beat writer who “Knows noth-theeng” and the boneheads.

  62. Nash needs to go….get out from under that contract and you have so much more flexibility.
    When he waived his no trade clause to come to NY, didn’t he void the clause? Or did the Rangers restore it?

    A clear case of addition by subtraction. You can pay two very players with that money.

  63. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    If THE scores those 2 OT breakaway goals, we are up 3-2 heading back to MSG.

  64. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    I’d totally tap that. In fact my wife likes her too. I see a threesome in the near future.

  65. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    “Yeah, you like what you see? Yeah, you like this?”

    Oh yeah. Me likes that a lot

  66. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    As tough as her father is, it’s a chance I’d take. Babes like that done come around often. Gots to get it while the getting be good.

  67. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Between puppet chick and our sexy boys, POZY POZY POZY is all I can say…

  68. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Wherever that nasty thing hangs out, she wired for sound I’d say….

    “You like this? Oh do ya?”

  69. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    MrD – Brassard wasn’t as strong in the SCF as I’d have hoped. He needs to rest up and heal….

  70. How about Bettman mentioning Chicago and no acknowledgement of NYR in his cup award speech.

    Look up tool in the dictionary and you’ll see his picture.

  71. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Still I am less depressed now than I was after game 2….strange…not that I’m overflowing with joy.

  72. King Eddie Eddie Eddie VI on

    Buttplug was smoking opium before he walked out…, not his fault.

  73. Hank played his best games in the final two games of the series, after the Rangers trailed three games to none.

    The overrated King is still without a ring.

  74. You know I lose,
    you know I win
    You know I call for
    the shape I’m in.
    It’s just a game you
    see me play,
    Only real in the way
    That I feel
    from day to day.

    Although the answer
    is not unknown,
    I’m searchin’, searchin’,
    and how I’ve grown.
    It’s not all right
    to say goodbye,
    And the world on a string
    Doesn’t mean a thing.

  75. If jumbo shrimp is still in SJ, I think Nash would accept a trade there.

    I also think SJ is desperate enough to trade for him due to playoff failures past.

  76. . png” />6732 Swan Generator Street,, Areas start from $189,, 00 5 kilometers through Masonboro town middle,Oakley. 5126 Marketplace Road Coach seventeen,ray ban montuur, Areas start from $161. 11 5 kilometers through Masonboro town middle,?mod=viewthread&tid=2200387&fromuid=167990,ray ban monturen. 3604 Marketplace Road,, Areas sta

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