Musings

Remembering 1994

Tonight the Rangers organization will pay tribute to the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship team. It is expected that all members of that club, save for Alex Karpovtsev, who died in the Yaroslavl plane crash in 2011 (he will be represented by his wife and daughter), will be there.  There is all-day programming on MSG to relive the moment. The ceremony will begin at 6pm tonight.

I was just ten years old when the Rangers won the Cup. I knew what 1940 was, but it didn’t process with me at that time. All I knew was that the Rangers hadn’t won in a long time. I was happy to see them win the Cup, but I didn’t truly understand the meaning of it all. I didn’t understand why someone held a sign that they could die in peace. I did, though, understand why Mark Messier was elated when Gary Bettman told him to come get the Stanley Cup.

I watched most of that playoff run. I remember laughing when the Rangers swept the Islanders in a tennis-esque score (6-0, 6-0, 5-1, 5-2). I was irrationally upset when the Rangers lost one game to the Capitals (HOW DARE THEY!). After they won that series 4-1, I knew the Rangers wouldn’t lose again. Right?

Then the Devils series came. I couldn’t understand how they could lose Game One at home. Who the hell is Stephane Richer? At least they answered back strong in Games Two and Three (Matteau!). But what happened the next two games? These aren’t the Rangers. How do you even pronounce Zelepukin? This is what goes through the mind of a ten year old.

Then it was time for Game Six, and the Rangers were down 2-0 already. I knew they were going to lose. My dad, the Islanders fan (yea yea yea), taught me a valuable lesson that night. Even though it may seem lost, always play to the last whistle. Then Alex Kovalev scored. “See, they just cut the lead in half.” Then Messier tied it. Then Messier gave the Rangers the lead.

Game Seven. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to grasp what happened. Again…what’s a Zelepukin? I could barely keep my eyes open when Matteau ended it (don’t judge, I was ten!), and i knew the Rangers were going to win it all. It’s amazing how quickly my mind could be changed off one or two games.

Who is Greg Adams, and why do the Rangers keep losing Game One?!?!

Three straight victories – they are going to win Game Five! I recorded the game on VHS (for our younger readers, a VHS predated DVDs to watch movies. They had long film tape on two small reels. Be Kind. Please Rewind). They lost. I recorded Game Six. They lost. Should I even record Game Seven?

I recorded it. You know the rest.

I had a school trip to the Connecticut Aquarium the next day. Everyone on the bus was chanting 1994, although I’m pretty sure most didn’t quite grasp what it truly meant. We knew the basic meaning, but not the emotional suffering that came before or the elation that came following.

I wouldn’t truly understand what all that meant to me until Messier left for Vancouver. Then Adam Graves was traded to San Jose. Mike Richter retired. Brian Leetch was traded, the most gut wrenching of them all.

I thought that when the Rangers won in 1994, I’d see them win again. We all know how that went.

I now fully appreciate what that team did. They may have been the best team in the NHL, but the playoffs in New York, with that kind of burden and curse, are a whole different animal. That team was special.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om4z2fpPO2g

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34 Comments

  1. So I always wondered how I would react to a Rangers’ Cup.

    Well, I sat on the floor in my basement, watching this on TV, and when it was finally over (screw you Kevin Collins for extending the agony needlessly), I sat quietly, crying, from joy, and most importantly, relief.

    Thank you for giving us at least one Cup, for the people who were old enough to see it. <3.

    1. My daughter was 13 months at the time….I remember punching the floor and cursing the refs for trying to give me cardiac arrest……The memory will last a lifetime!.

      1. “The memory will last a lifetime!”

        Or for as long as you have your memory bro. 🙂

  2. My fave memory of 1994 (after the playoffs were over of course) was going to the parade—I was with a friend of mine, at one point we saw Keenan/Leetch/Messier with the Cup on top of a car from about ten feet away. Could see the logo on the bottom of the Cup clearly. And then we saw a guy in an Islander jersey being screamed at by hundreds of people, all shouting “1983”—the guy was drunk, leaning on a car, and crying. It was great.

  3. I remember it as if it occurred last night. I was there in tears, and looked over at my younger son Johnny, who was also crying along with me, and thought what have I done to this kid, making him that much of a fan. My son Rick called home from college and was laughing his tail off because his buddies were Flyer fans, and they all were POed that we won. My phone didn’t stop ringing for about an hour because so many of my friends around the country, who knew how much I loved this team, called to congratulate me, as if I were a member of the Rangers. That was the one, and only CUP I ever saw my favorites ever won in my lifetime, and oh so how I would love to relive that experience again before the man upstairs calls out my number!!!!!!!!

    1. I just watch the video of the game, damn if it didn’t bring tears to my eyes again. I just love this team!!!!!!!!!

  4. I don’t know if there is a video of it anywhere, but one moment that sticks out was when I was watching the post game interviews with my brother and Essa Tikanen was interviewed and it was priceless. He goes on for what seemed to be a long time and is completely unintelligible until the last three words “And We Win!”

    1. I loved—and still love to this day—Esa Tikkanen. A really good player who gave his physical health to the game of hockey.

    2. Peter

      Esa Tikanen was a character, loved his game, and that grin on his face. He was also a stand out shut down forward who scored 30 goals one season if I recall correctly. Your post put a smile on my ugly face, LOL!!!!!!!!!

      1. MC and Walt: I was also a big fan of Tiki, a talented hardworking crazy pest and class clown all rolled into one. He loved to play!

  5. I just gotta post about this as i’m a lurker of this site.

    I just wanted to post and say that I too was 10 years old back in 1994 and during that whole playoff run. I have been blessed with a great memory and am lucky to remember that time and those great days, that was eons ago, but like as if it was yesterday.

    While I didn’t have a full grasp of the whole 1940 curse or Stanley Cup drought of 54 years, I did have some kind of understanding of it to an extent, as I became a fan of the Rangers in 1991 and still remember some things about the 1991-1992 season, mostly the Pittsburgh Penguins series that year, as I could remember the last game of that series and just hearing and having to listen to all the Penguins fans at the old Igloo chanting “1940”, particularly when it was clear the Rangers were gonna lose that Game 6 in Pittsburgh, sending the Rangers home. It’s one of my earliest Rangers memories. Add in the fact that the first season I really paid attention and watched a whole season was the next following season which was a disaster in 1992-1993, so going into 1993-1994, I had already heard of 1940 and the whole curse, especially since I remember that last Pittsburgh Penguins game in the 1992 playoffs as the whole “1940” chant was really loud that night.

    That whole run of 1994, the playoff run that year, and everything that went on during those great days (that I truly miss) and everything that came after and ensued during that whole time period in the Spring/Summer of 1994 was truly something special and really memorable. I was fortunately aware and knew back then just how special those days were at the time and knew it wasn’t gonna last forever (just that I thought Mike Keenan would be the Rangers coach the next year and thought all the llayers would be back the next year and thought we could or would compete sgain the following year in the 1994-1995 shortened lockout season (the first lockout!!!) (boy. How wrong was I? Lol.) and with the Knicks being good too and making it to the NBA Finals in 1994, I knew it was a great time to be alive and to be a fan of the Rangers, first and foremost, and the Knicks.

    I’ll put it to you and everyone else and all the other diehard Rangers fans like this: The Rangers and Knicks could’ve done that and repeated that and gone to the Finals for 50 years in a row. But, even if they did and that happened, it NEVER would’ve been as crazy, great, and as memorable as it was that first time in that year of 1994. Those days were just CRAZY, GREAT, and absolutely NUTS and it’s why it was New York’s greatest days, or as far as sports go. It was NEVER gonna get any better than that!!! With how everytjing was back then, and with how MSG was back then when it was really loud because the real diehard, passionate, LOYAL fans were there at the games back then before they priced most of those fans out and before Dolan owned The Garden and it’s teams. No matter what, it will NEVER be like that EVER again!!! I really wish it was. But it’s not as it’s too quiet in The Garden now. The whole renovations have been an absolute disaster for me and the people and fans that sit upstairs of what’s left of the Blue Seats.

    Anyway, I just wanted to Thank You for writing this as it took me back to those days and a much simpler time. I really really MISS those days!!!

    Also, I just wanted to say, I too had a trip the very next day to the nearby college as we were all preparing and practicing for our 5th Grade Graduation on June 24th, 1994. And on my classes bus we were all chanting 1994 just like your class was too!!!

    Just wanted to post this and reminisce a little of that time and thst whole run and the complete craziness of it.

    We were all very lucky to live through days as Rangers fans. It really was a great time to be alive!!!

    Thank You 1993-1994 Rangers!!! I’ll never forget those days and neither will those that were lucky enough to live through it!!!

  6. I remember how happy i was and thinking if i ever see them do it again. Im 70 so…

  7. I remember waking up my young sons, telling them you might not ever see this again. Also took them to the parade. I had tears in my eyes. Went to Modells next morning to get my Stanley Cup hat! To this day, there will never be a prediction and captain like M.Messier when he personally pulled the team through the NJ series.

    Today’s teams are all about speed, but I wish they had half the heart of the 94 team.

    1. At least I was able to see a cup in my lifetime….buy they better win another soon because my clock is ticking…lol

  8. Adam Graves…nicest and most gentleman that I have met from the sports world….Messier….another story……grumpy and when I asked him about Richter he said to me”…ahhhhhh he is okay”..lol..true story

  9. King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!!King Sieveqvist!! King Sieveqvist!! says:

    There’s only one player that halfway resembles Mess in the new NHL. .. Ovechkin ( has a little better shot then Mess had , one timer anyways ? ) . Glad I got to see it.

  10. I was less than ten at the time and was likely just getting into hockey, so all I remember are player names, not many details. so all this is pretty numb to me.

    1. It figures that since there’s something positive to discuss that you’ve got nothing to add.

  11. As someone who is a few years older than you I can tell you that The City was electrifying that year. The heart-stopping series against the Devs followed by the 7 game series against Vancouver coupled with the Knicks run to the Finals were they suffered a heart-wrenching loss in Game 6 that would have won them the NBA title before dropping the series in Game 7 to Houston. Truly a sports-filled emotional rollercoaster in the Spring of ’94.

  12. We want the Cup! We want the Cup! When will we be in a position to have that chant again? 25 years ago that arena rocked like no other time since. Good memories! I so want to root like that again.

  13. Hi all,

    What a great year. I will never forget the DVD’S and in particular how Messier came to NY wanted the team to talk about winning the cup, wanting to win. The whole idea of Leetch and Richter before 1994 walking around NYC and saying imagine winning a championship here. Then Keenan cleverly showing the Rangers during the training camp championship parades down canyon of heroes. Messier crying when the lights came on, Messier was the captain that put it upon himself to be the guy to carry the torch. Some of the greatest quotes sayings during those DVD’s, you can feel the emotion and then the trades. I will never forget the former Oilers (Tikkanen, McTavish, Anderson, etc) coming over and just thinking there are over 20 plus cups between these players before they came here, LOL!!! Not sure the exact number but was super thrilled about that.

    Yeah youth was traded and moves were necessary to be made. But they delivered. The game 6 guarantee, the chaos and triumph of game 7 double OT. Then the whole coming to MSG with a 3-1 series lead only to end up finally winning the series 4-3 and by a score of 3-2. Man that 3rd period you just wanted to see the time expire, and the emotion of John Davidson a former ranger player and fan favorite. You can feel the emotion again “its over no more 1940 its gone congrats rangers”.

    Adam Graves said it best, “We won because we believed we can win.” I could only imagine if Keenan and Smith did not butt heads Keenan might have delivered 2 cups. Keenan type coaches rarely come along. Torts was just crazy ass nuts, AV was laid back, Keenan had the right edge to him and also coaching in NY is not a easy task. He had a purpose and desire to want to win. To me the whole playoffs felt like we must win the cup, face adversity and just win even if it is really close.

    1. Enjoyed your post, but your memories of Keenan are a bit rosy—don’t forget he nearly sabotaged the Rangers’ victory by beginning negotiations to leave the organization DURING THE FINALS. This action caused a huge distraction for NYR at the time. Additionally he allegedly stopped coaching the team in game 5 or 6 (forget which), and Messier actually ran the bench for about ten minutes during a Finals game. Questionable motivational tactic at best. There was no chance he’d return to the Rangers after 1994, he attempted to backstab Neil Smith and steal his job, with the support of then-Garden prez Bob Gutkowski. And I think the Rangers ended up suing Keenan for breach of contract.

      Ultimately Mike Keenan was an opportunist and egotist first, who lost his poise in big games for both Philadelphia and Chicago during his time with each team. Ironic that his one year as Ranger coach brought both the Rangers and Keenan the Cup they’d each sought for so long.

        1. In 2003, the Rangers were negotiating with Herb Brooks, and he eventually decided not to take the job. At that point, I felt there was only one man who could coach that team to the playoffs, Mike Keenan. They didn’t go after him, and that season ended up being a disaster.

  14. Watching the playoff run, especially games like the overtime games against the Devils, made me realize more than ever before how difficult it is to win the Stanley Cup. The number of games that a team possibly must play and number of serise is incredible. They had a brilliant season that I will always remember. I hope that they can win another before my warranty expires!

  15. Taking to the streets of NYC after the game and marching all around the garden and all over town screaming WE GOT THE CUP! is a memory that can’t be beat. that was a magical moment. tickertape parade down the canyon of heros then hiking uptown and trying to crash the party at gracie mansion wil always be with me.

  16. We had just moved to Florida the year before, as I retired from the PD. We purchased a fairly large piece of property so that I could get a satellite dish. Back then it was something the size that rivals a NASA dish, just so I could get the Ranger games. We had company visiting. I had my wife take our kids and the company out to dinner with strict instructions NOT TO RETURN HOME UNTIL THE GAME WAS OVER. So that I could watch that last game, alone without ANY interruptions. I so wish I could have attended the parade………………..

    1. I really only like watching important games alone, otherwise the other folks only distract me. My Toe! My Toe! Step On My Toe! What a call!

  17. I have mentioned this before on BSB a few years ago, I think it was during the Finals against L.A..

    When we won the cup in 1994, I was 21 years old.

    My first ever game was when I was 6 or 7 years old. I became a Ranger fan because, my father was a huge fan and he would take me to about a dozen games or so a year (usually the best ones). We also, had seen some memorable and, not so memorable playoff games together as well. If we weren’t at the games we ALWAYS watched every game together at home.

    To make a very long story short, my father suddenly passed away with no warning of a brain hemmorage at the age of 47 on May, 10th 1994 (It was the night Leetch scored in OT to beat the Caps in Round 2.)

    I was fortunate to be able to go to most of the big games for the remainder of the playoffs and was at the garden for every finals game ( btw, I felt like I was the only one in the building who didn’t think we’d win game 5 :-] )

    Well, you can imagine how I felt in game 7 in the finals between the 2nd and 3rd intermissions. A part of me was jubilant to know we were only 20 minutes away from something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life to be hapenning but, there was another part of me that was so angry at the world because, my father never was going to see it.

    For as much as I was happy that we had finally won, a part of me felt bittersweet about it for a long while until I started to believe that, maybe he had something to do with it up there.

    That night I celebrated by walking from the Garden up to my father’s store on 6th n 47th and had a beer for him as I stood outside looking up to his 6th floor windows.

    So, whenever any occasions like these that commemorate the 94 team come around, it definitely brings back some memories to say the least.

    Oh and by the way, I am now 47 years old.

    It would be nice to win another cup before I die. :-] LGR!!!

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