In each of our lifetimes, there are things we all hold near and dear to our hearts. That “thing” for me is the New York Rangers.
I was first introduced to the New York Rangers in the sixth grade. One of my best friends at the time introduced me to hockey and the Rangers during homeroom one day before classes. It was playoff time and the Rangers were about to face the Devils in the first round. They would go on to lose the series in four games, but from the moment I saw my first puck drop, I was hooked.
Over the course of the next few years I became wrapped up in hockey culture. I learned the names of every player on the team. I knew all their numbers, how the Rangers acquired them, who was drafted in what round and what their current record or winning streak was.
I cheered when they swept the Atlanta Thrashers in the first round of the 2007 NHL playoffs. I cried when the Washington Capitals eliminated them in seven games in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. I cursed my television out when the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Rangers in a shootout on the last day of the 2009-10 regular season to advance to the playoffs. I’ve seen them make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and I’ve seen them make it as far as the Stanley Cup Finals. On both of those occasions I could taste the cup, but both times ended in heartbreak.
My favorite New York Rangers memory is going to see them play at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 25, 2008. They were playing a team that I hate to this day, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were down 2-1 with under one minute left. They needed a miracle. I’ll never forget seeing former Rangers player Nikolai Zherdev speed up the ice and rip a shot over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury with 8.1 seconds left to play in regulation time. The Garden exploded with the excitement of 18,000 blueshirt faithful. Overtime was scoreless. Then the shootout came along. Frederick Sjostrom scored the lone goal on Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist saved all three shots he faced to deliver the win. It’s a night I will never forget.
I was only four months old the last time the Rangers hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup and I hope to see them do that once in my lifetime. I’ve felt their pain when they’ve lost and I’ve partied when they won. Some of my best memories are watching the Rangers with friends and celebrating a win. My dream job is to cover New York Rangers hockey for ESPN, MSG’s television channel or NHL.com. This year will be the first year I will be attending the New York Rangers home opener and I couldn’t be more excited.
I will “Bleed Blue” until the day I die and I will continue to wear their jersey with pride. I have lived and breathed New York Rangers hockey since the sixth grade and I have no plans of stopping. Let’s go Rangers!