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Here we are again. 20 years later…

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Of course that game ended 1-0. Why wouldn’t it? For better or worse, this organization never makes things easy. Of course, the score should have been more like 4-0, if not for the heroics of young Dustin Tokarski. He kept a tired and outpaced Canadiens team in it until the end.

Now, you’ll forgive me for being a little disjointed in the aftermath of this victory, so if you wouldn’t mind I’m just going to meander a little bit through the jumbled mess that is my brain following the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Finals berth in 20 years…

I became a Rangers fan back in 1992-1993. I started playing street hockey with some neighborhood kids and was hooked immediately. It was the very end of the regular season and the Blueshirts had failed to qualify for the playoffs. But hey, I was a huge Yankees fan, so why wouldn’t I support the Rangers?

The first full season I watched wire to wire was 1993-1994. It was a magical ride complete with a President’s Trophy, total dismantling of the Islanders, one of the greatest Conference Finals ever played amplified by “The Guarantee”, a 7 game Stanley Cup Final, including “The Save” and Sam Rosen almost having a coronary when they lifted the big prize at The Garden. Talk about getting spoiled.

Then the core of that fantastic team started to fray and guys got shipped off, concussed, retired or left via free agency. It was around 1998 I realized that was probably it for a while. Then the dark ages set in. The mid-aughts were brutal. The team was filled with unlikeable wanna-be stars, overpaid because Glen Sather had carte blanche to Jim Dolan’s checkbook.

Then, Lockout II happened. I remember the economics pretty vividly because of how opposed to a salary cap I was. I think the final system helped even the field, but many of my cap criticisms still hold true today, but I digress. What we received out of the lockout, though, was an obscure Swede named Henrik Lundqvist.

The King’s career so far has been one of his magnificent play masking poorly assembled rosters. Even in 2011-2012 the team was tremendous to watch defy the odds, but ultimately ill-equipped to get New York where it wanted to go. This season has been different. Obviously the club got off to a very rough start. You could see them start to find their footing a little in 2014, but the trade that brought Marty St. Louis here was the defining moment.  He brought skill, leadership, depth and a winning pedigree.

The death of St. Louis’ mother, France, has galvanized this group to play as a true team. They are playing for each other, communicating, and executing their game plan with trust in one another. It’s a shame 1.) that he has had to experience this loss and 2.) that the media has used the storyline in such a parasitic manner, but there is no doubt that it has had an effect on the team as a whole and helped bring the boys in the room closer together.

So here we are. Back in the Stanley Cup Finals after 20 years. There is excitement, anxiety, trepidation and pride. Whoever comes out of the West is going to be an immense challenge. No matter what, I am incredibly proud of what this group has accomplished considering their brutal start. Obviously, The Cup’s return to Broadway would be cause for raucous celebration (the wife and I decided if they win, we are definitely going to the parade), but even if they come up short, what a ride it has been.

"Here we are again. 20 years later...", 4 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.

40 Responses to “Here we are again. 20 years later…”

  1. bayman says:

    I think we’ll have a tough time if it’s LA. They’re as deep as we are, and have a few players burning it up. However, I think the Rangers breeze vs. Chicago. As LA has done, we can wear them out by consistently rolling four lines…and, if they somehow survive LA, they’ll enter the finals already a bit gassed. And, of course, we’ll have a big edge in goal.

    • joe719 says:

      I think we’ll have a tough time with either; but we have Hank. He seems to be on a mission. After last nights game, I’ve never seen him so animated in discussing the team and his personal situation. After 9 years here, he wants it!!! You can’t discount that. The team follows his lead; and if he is leading them with a confidence and an almost ‘tunnel-vision’ eye on the goal ahead; you can’t just dismiss them. I know the experts are lining up to just write them off;many with their own personal agendas against the team and Sather. But you know what?: who gives a damn! They’e here. Lace em’ up and lets get at it!!!

  2. ROBERT MINTZ says:

    I liken the Callahan/St. Louis trade to the Mike Gartner/Glenn Anderson trade in 1994. At the time, it was one of those WTF moments, that eventually worked for us.

    Are the Rangers the BEST team in the East? Certainly not.

    Personally, whomever wins in the West, anything can happen in the playoffs and I actually relish being the underdog, less pressure.

    They sure don’t make it easy, do they? But look at 94, they were the President’s Trophy winners, but had to have two game 7s to beat the Devils and Canucks.

    So why should this squad be any different?

    • Scully says:

      I know we won the cup with Glenn Anderson, but I still think we could have won the cup with Mike Gartner. He was in Keenan’s doghouse, which you didn’t come out of (just ask Tony Amonte).

      Maybe it’s because Gartner was my favorite player, but I mean… you just don’t trade 700 goal scorers who score 40 goals back to back years.

      Then again, I can still hear Gary Thorne yelling “SCOREEEE GLENNN ANDERSONNN!!!!!”

      • Walt says:

        I think Mess had more to say about that trade than anyone could think about. Hay they won what was it 5 cups together, and Glen was a major factor on that team. Then they went and got Craig Mac Tavich, and the rest was history. As proud as I was of that team, Neil Smith gave away the shop, and it cost us long term after that!!

  3. Hatrick Swayze says:

    Awesome article, Justin. Believe it or not, but it is not nearly as disjointed as you may think. The MSL acquisition was huge, and as someone who defended it and him since day 1, I am ecstatic that it is paying off this year after his forgettable start in blue. The guy is a winner and without question is a huge asset to our team and an integral contributor on our run. His addition has made our 2nd line formidable. They are now a threat. And that makes for 3 balanced lines of attack, all who have chipped in and stepped up when the other 2 haven’t been able to find the score sheet.

    Enough about just 1 player though, this team really has come together. Another man whom I have defended multiple times on this blog is Mr. Sather. 2 conference finals appearances in 3 years. The first time it didn’t work. 2 years later with an entirely different roster, coaching staff and identity/ideology, here we are again….and this time we broke through. Blockbuster moves such as Nash in, Gaborik out, Klein in, MSL in and deft FA signings like Zuc, D Moore and B Pouliout (who I was very harsh on early this year) have us looking at a true contender.

    Whatever happens next round is bound to happen, but I am more than impressed with what we have accomplished thus far. Let us all remember though, as the players continually echo during this cup run- we have accomplished nothing. Not yet. That humility is necessary in keeping the goal in mind.

    In the multi-day gap which we have to anxiously wait before we can watch our Rangers play again, I will be watching and listening to the video/audio of the crowd completely drowning out Doc Emrick’s play call on that miraculous save by Lundqvist. The garden got so loud at that pivotal point in the game. It was awesome. I got a little choked up listening to it on Boomer and Carton this morning on the drive into work. And that was really when this all sunk in.

    2 years ago I watched my brother’s Devils beat us and move onto the Finals to play the Kings. This year it is OUR TURN to go onto the finals to play either the same Kings or the Hawks. Whoever it is, I am a as big a believer as I can be that we can do something special here.

    Many are thinking this will be the 3rd cup in 5 years for the Hawks. Dynasty. Or perhaps the 2nd cup in 3 years for the Kings. The beginnings of another potential Dynasty. But I say nay. Let us bring home our 2nd in 20.

  4. Brendan says:

    Justin, I became a fan the same year. The first game I went to was in the fall of 1992, started playing street hockey same year, and have lived and died with this team every season since then. Now at 31 years old, I still find pick-up games playing roller hockey at the rink in my old town and enjoy every joyfull (and painfull) moment of being a Rangers fan. LET’S GO RANGERS!!!!

  5. Snake says:

    Awesome game by the Rangers. I was dang proud of them last night, especially in the 3rd when they had a one goal lead. Very much different approach to winning then Game 7 vs Pittsburgh.

    As Mark Stahl said in post-game, “We played well. We didn’t sit on it. We didn’t just pack it in. We had a tons of chances. A lot more then they did I thought. That was a great period for us to play. We didn’t want to sit on a lead like that.”

    A great 60 minutes series clinching win!

    LET’S GO RANGERS!

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Haha, I was thinking you’d be more pleased after this elimination game win after being so harsh on them last time.

    • Scully says:

      They converted ya snake! How could they not with a 3rd period like that. THAT’s a period that makes you think they won’t stop until they hoist it.

      #Aboveandbeyond

    • Snake says:

      See! I told you guys I wasn’t trolling. You may have disagreed with me, but obviously Stahl wasn’t happy about what they did in Pittsburgh G7P3 either.

      I def don’t need to be converted. I just want to see them play the way they are capable of playing AND win. I’ve literally chewed my finger nails off during parts of this series…what was left of them after Pittsburgh. Last night I wasn’t nervous at all because as Stahl said, “they didn’t pack it in”.

      I can’t believe there is a chance I may see them win two Cups in my lifetime. If I don’t, that is fine though. I just wanted to see them win one with my father and I got that wish 20 years ago. I’m sure he’s watching this one with all of us though. :)

      • Walt says:

        Snake

        You and I both have pissed off a few people on this site, and so be it. When they play like last night, and give it their all, you can’t help but pull for them. When they play like sh*t, we express it.

        Now that they have a shot at winning the cup, let’s hope that they put out an effort like last night!!!!

        • Snake says:

          Walt…

          Heh…well my intent isn’t to piss off anyone. We all love the Rangers, but I guess everyone gets something different from the site and the interaction. I came here by chance when searching for info on hockey systems, thus The Suit is a god to me. I have stuck around because of the great write-ups and game by game breakdowns. I started to participate because to be honest, most hockey fans (even Ranger fans) are idiots and/or homers. That is not the case with most people here.

          People that don’t tow the company line like yourself give you something to think about even if you don’t agree. I mean…Nash is my boy, but I don’t get offended when you trash the hell out of him. That’s just your opinion but there is truth there and sometimes it hurts. LOL

          I’m just really glad Stahl echoed my opinion after the game. It gives me hope…hope that the players haven’t bought into defending a lead by “packing it in” and hope that AV has learned something. AV ain’t stupid, but he is slow. Eventually he gets it right. He’s gotten better just like the players have gotten better working within his system. It’s a team effort and AV is part of the team.

          I’m very excited about the progress I have seen since the start of the season. They are more consistent and the flashes of brilliance and “world beater” potential is showing itself more and more frequently. Even if they don’t win the Cup this year, I know one is coming. I felt they would do it within 5 years after 2011-12. We’re only two years in.

          LET’S GO RANGERS!

          • Walt says:

            Good stuff my man!

            Like you, I thought I knew the game pretty well, and came to this site and found some great insight from the entire staff. You are right, BSB has probably the brightest, informed fans of any site.

            It’s amazing how much the analysis done by the guys, and Beck, sorry my dear, and how it makes you use the gray matter we have been blessed with.

            For the most part, there is little to no name calling, other than from me on occasion, towards others on this site. When that happens it’s usually from deep felt feeling, and emotions, and for that let me take this opportunity to say I’m sorry if I offended anyone.

  6. Chris F says:

    As ecstatic as I am today, and as euphoric as this week will be no matter what, I gotta say, I do really feel bad that Callahan wasn’t on the ice with his teammates last night to claim the Eastern Conference championship.

    I know that the Rangers probably don’t make it this far without St Louis, and for that I will forever be supportive of Sather’s decision to deal Callahan. Nevertheless, I remember the day Callahan was named captain. I thought for sure if the Rangers hoist the Cup in the next 5-10 years, it will be Callahan to lift it first.

    He just epitomized, to me, my Rangers fandom. He will always be missed.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Hats off…. very well said. I miss him too. *sadface*

    • Fotiu is God says:

      Way cool, Chris. There but for the grace of Captain Callahan dare go…

      Whether we buy in to the claim that Slats and Cally’s agent were all of $100K apart, or one year on the contract length doesn’t matter. Slats made a calculated move. And, so far, a pretty damn good one.

      For what it’s worth, the Sharks were rumored to have wingers Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels going to NY for Cally if the Tampa trade didn’t materialize. (My best friend is the emergency on-call physician for Kings home games. He got that from their assistant GM, a former Flyers goalkeeper.)

      Regardless, my six-year old is wearing his Callahan jersey today. Inasmuch, while I’m relishing the fact it was the class act/gentleman Dom Moore who sealed it, my hat’s also off to fellow trench warrior Cally.

    • Paco 33 says:

      The problem is that it was Callahan who didn’t picture himself raising the Cup in a Rangers jersey. If he did, he’d still be here. Whether we make it this far with him instead of MSL is subject to debate, and I’m sorry it wasn’t him skating towards (but not touching) the Prince of Wales Trophy. But he pictured himself with the money more than in a Blueshirt being handed the Cup. And as much as some us miss him, he misses us and this much more today.

    • Snake says:

      I was thinking last night that if Cally was still there, they would have hoisted that trophy. I wonder if part of the reason they didn’t was a team decision to show respect to him.

      • Walt says:

        Snak

        It’s a tradition not to touch the trophy, some believe it to be bad luck. Watch the game tonight, if LA wins, they won’t touch it either!!!!!

        • wwpd says:

          don’t touch that filthy wales trophy, ever!

        • LFOD Bleeding Blue in NH says:

          Worked alright for Mess :)

        • Snake says:

          I’m aware of the superstition, but I didn’t think it was all that widespread. I haven’t seen a lot games when teams clinched since the Rangers have rarely been playing in them. :D

          As LFOD alluded to, I thought I remembered Messier hoisting it. Maybe the Rangers were immune is Messier is a god, or maybe my memory ain’t that great. :D

    • Gary says:

      I thought the world of Cally has a hockey player and a Ranger captain. But Cally over rated himself and declined a contract that would have made him a rich man for life.

      We are all subject to our decisions and actions. That’s what life is.

  7. MinturnCoBlueshirt says:

    I liked watching cally play just as much as everyone else but can we move on. It’s about the name on the front not the back. He left us remember that. He could have accepted the offer from slats and come back a Ranger but he didn’t so I say good riddance. Plus MSL has made me forget all about him, plays with similar grit but has an eye for the net and better vision on the ice. Go Rangers!

    • Chris F says:

      It’s always about the name on the front, but some players are likable, some are not. Some leave an impact, others don’t.

      I’m not saying “this is meaningless, because Callahan isn’t here.” I’m just noticing that I miss him around this time more than I have been throughout this playoff run. And, you’re right, St Louis has made me forget him. St Louis’ my guy, now!

      But I don’t think anyone needs to “move on already” for giving a quick shout out to our departed captain at this point in time.

      • paulronty says:

        Back when I was a kid the Rangers traded my favorite player Paul Ronty to the Montreal Canadians. I was so upset I switched to a Habs jersey–for 1 day. I hated it, that’s when I learned I loved the team more than any player.

        • Gary says:

          Felt similar when the traded Park and Ratelle to the Bruins. Worse yet, getting that windbag Esposito in return. Worse still… Middleton for Hodge. That was a humiliating time to be a Ranger fan, but I stuck w/ the jersey.

          • Walt says:

            You forgot that Carol Vagnais was in that trade as well, worst in our history. Remember how much we hated the Big Bad Bruins of that time, and to have four of them wear the Ranger blue, your right terrible!!!!!

  8. Scully says:

    With the game 1-0 in the dying minutes I was having flashbacks to Valeri Zelepukin stuffing one past Richter in Game 7 of 1994′s Conference Finals to tie it up.

    You and I are kindred spirits Justin lol.. I also became a fan in 1992-93 and watched them collapse down the stretch. I also vividly remember them trading Dough Weight for Esa Tikkanen, and a home and home where Mario Lemieux scored 5 goals, including 4 in the 3rd period where the Rangers lost 10-4. That season sucked for so many reasons haha.

    This season however…!!!!!

  9. Justin says:

    I love hearing about the genesis of everyone’s fandom. Seems like a lot of us in that 30-35 range came into our own as Rangers fans at right around the same time. Keep up the good works boys, and hopefully we have more glory ahead!

  10. ROBERT MINTZ says:

    http://blueshirtsunited.com/videos/6113/best-of-slo-mo-cam-rangers-game-6-win-vs-montreal#.U4jmPCggG8B

    Had Girardi not gotten a piece of this puck, it was a slam dunk goal…

    Speaking of trades…

    The Gomez/McDonough trade with the Canadiens may only be eclipsed by the Torterella/Vigneault Canuck trade.

    By the way, Diaz played well.

  11. mikeyyy says:

    What a game.

    Tokarski played perfect. After reading so much about goalies here I started noticing things like his positioning was perfect almost the entire game. He didn’t rely on reflexes but on his technical aspects.

    As for the trades well call might as well priced himself out of a cup. But could we be here without msl?

    I knew mtl couldn’t keep up with the pace they were playing and rolling only 3 lines.

    Av in his first season has taken us where torts could never. Good choice glen. Same with keeping step after a mini holdout. And nit ditching Boyle when he could have. And waiting a year to buyout Richie. It was a perfect storm this year.

    With the exception of missing the delay of game the refs did well too.

    • Chris F says:

      They missed a couple Rangers high sticks, actually, but who’s complaining?

      Oh wait, this just in, all of Montreal!

  12. SalMerc says:

    I still will never forget 1979 (okay, I’m old). I went to the Garden to scalp a ticket for game 1, only to get shut out. Instead went to McSorely’s, watched the game, saw us win, and right there on the street was a guy selling NYR 1979 Stanley Cup shirts. I had to have it. Wore it only to see us drop 4 straight to Montreal. Still have the shirt (albeit 3 sizes too small), look at it and wonder if it was the shirt that jinxed us.

    • WayneG says:

      Sal- I too very well remember 1979. At that point I was a committed Ranger fan for about 6 years. For you younger guys- my son, now 29, was really getting into the Rangers in 94 just like you. We watched every game. We would go out every day and pick up hockey trading card from the local deli. He actually collected all the Rangers players, some with last team jersey but all players who had cards. He still has them. After last night’s game we were talking about 1994. Staying up to watch all the follow-up commentary after the game 7 victory over Vancouver-The next day I walked him to school- around lunch time and when they asked why he was coming in so late we replied “the Rangers won the Cup”. Great memories and lifelong fans. LGR- Do it again- it’s time.

  13. Walt says:

    I followed the Ranger from the mid 50′s, and my dad took me to the old garden to see a few games. All three of my kids grew up Ranger fans, and the night we won, my oldest son was in college, and called me at home. He was as excited as I was. Then I looked at son #2 sitting next to me, he was crying along with me when Mess raised the cup. My thought was “What have I done to these poor kids”? My oldest son, sits with my grandson Jake watching the games, so now we are into the fourth generation of Rangers fans!! How cool is that?????

    • Chris F says:

      You did good, Walt!

    • Snake says:

      That’s the ultimate in cool, Walt. I was working the night the Rangers won in ’94, but after the 2nd period I bailed and drove 30 miles to be with my father in case they won. I saw my first games in the last year before expansion. My father was that age when the won in 1940.

      The Rangers were “our thing”. He always took me to MSG at least once a year. He raised me as you raised your sons…bleed blue.

      I always expected that if the day came and they won, we’d go insane. Instead neither of us said a word. We just sat there. After a few moments of reflection and taking it all in, my mother came downstairs with two of those miniature plastic Stanley Cups that came with my mechanical hockey games. Each was filled with champagne. We silently toasted the team, downed our Cups, then made plans to attend the parade. It was better then anything I could imagine.

  14. TxRanger says:

    I became a fan in the dark ages…

    Living in Texas it’s hard to see all the games. I’m a diehard Spurs fan, sorry Knicks fans, here, but I will watch my Rangers any day over the Spurs if I can. Last night was intense. I’m so hyped. I think this team is special, we can win it all.