Messier may have been the leader, Leetch the home grown superstar, but Adam Graves was the heart and soul of the Rangers. His contributions on the ice are only surpassed by his contributions off the ice; tirelessly working with the children of the city, participating in Toys For Tots every year, just being Adam Graves. Tonight, Ranger fans everywhere will be dropping everything to watch this ceremony.
During my commute to work this morning, I was thinking about what my favorite Graves moment was. I was 10 when he scored in Game 7 in 1994, just old enough to know it was a big goal, but still too young to fully appreciate it. I nearly hit my ceiling when he scored the OT series clincher against the Devils in 1997, propelling the mediocre Rangers to the Conference Finals. I also thought about his return to the Garden after being forced out of NY, and the video tribute, and Graves shedding a tear as he watched. You could tell he never wanted to leave. I thought about his return to NY as a part of the front office, and when Leetch announced that his number would be retired last year. All of them were special moments, but none of them fully embraced what Gravey meant to the fans.
My favorite Adam Graves moment came on February 4th, 2004. Mike Richter Night. It was his first appearance on Garden ice since 2002. I remember as JD was introducing everyone, he would start by reciting his accomplishments for the Rangers. The fans would listen to the first accomplishment, identify the player, and start to cheer. Not for Graves. The camera panned over Graves, and the Garden just erupted. You could hear it from across the street, I heard it from college in Binghamton. The roar was deafening, and just continued for what seemed like forever. When a lull finally occurred, JD joked that he didn’t even need to introduce Graves. On a night honoring Mike Richter, Adam Graves may have received the loudest ovation.
So let me be another person, another Ranger fan, another New Yorker, to say thank you. Thank you Adam Graves, for being you.