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The Rangers and Sacred Places

February 9th, 2008 · 4 Comments · The Hockey Hippie

That was the most fun i’ve had at a game, well other than the Sabres-Sens playoff, in about … whenever my last Rangers game was!  🙂  I mean, seriously, it restored my faith in hockey. 



Hey and get this — I’ve now pegged my Rangers fanship to at least 1969/70!  cuz by 1970-71 Eddie was wearing the mask, and when I became a fan, he never wore one.  That’s WHY he was the coolest player in the league.  So that had to be at least ’69/70!  And how amazing that every other element of my life is somehow rooted in the sixties! 

It started with the mask.  There’s was something in the back of my head, I’d seen a picture from 70/71 wearing the mask.  Then just looked it up:  confirmed in 2 sources it was 70/71.  And I’d been a fan for a while before he did that.  So it could very well date to 68/69.  But wow, man!  I cracked the sixties for absolutely sure!  I never saw him be anything BUT maskless.  When he finally put one on — I couldn’t understand it and hated it, but was still Eddie.  Without all the equipment of today, a goalie was much more recognizable.  I used to watch him on HNiC and replicate his saves over and over, and that’s where I got my goaltending from.   All my life I’ve tried to be Eddie Giacomin.   And that’s not a bad thing.  And man —  I don’t want to sit anywhere but the upper-deck 400s again!  That is my home, as much as the front rows of a Grateful Dead show used to be.  I felt more at home in New York in those seats than anywhere else I was in NYC.  It’s almost like the last spot in the city that hasn’t gotten phucked yet.   “It’s a sit-down comedy show”   My favorite line from the whole trip was, “Hey Crosby, si’down!”   

It was just the comic New York tone it was delivered in.  It’s the intangible you can’t quantify.  Just a natural civic gift.  The whole Garden used to be that way — and for sure, I haven’t felt that in YEARS!  Because i’ve never sat in the 400s before.  But I know that everything below it and in the boxes ain’t the same.  That one night there was how I always remember the Rangers being — everything the Rangers are to me.  Educated but funny fans.  The perfect pitch of a precise tone. 

Because New Yorkers have So much else going on in their lives, they can be as passionate about this as they are about a hundred other things.  They can be super smart, super into it, and not Really care cuz their lives are so filled with so much else that is amazing and overwhelming. 


They’re as passionate as other fans, but they’re so much deeper.  

And then this — the sense of humor — 

Canadians per capita are way funnier than Americans. 

Then you add in — “the sit-down comedy show” of “the blues” in MSG, and all the funny and twisted American fans I know. Okay.  So maybe it’s not Canada that makes us funny — it’s hockey.   Hockey makes people funny.  Or …

hockey attracts funny people.

Where I grew up in Winnipeg could we lost Every Year to Gretzky or Calgary, so what the puck?!  How can you not just love and laugh?  Plus, we were pretty comical and goofy to begin with.  So that’s where this comes from. Just as Giacomin led me to goaltending, the Winnipeg hockey attitude led me to not taking the results too seriously.   Maybe that’s why NYC worked so well for me.  Passion with humor.   And that brings us back to the 400 section.   And how everything outside of the Garden has been destroyed except for ONE old Rangers bar.  And how the Garden as I knew it was largely now.   But here was this place.  This one place.   For decades I’ve called them, “sacred places,” and have been searching them out, from abandoned mansions to cliff ridges to caves to roof tops to waterfalls to concert pits . . . and “the blues” are like the last blocks of the Lower East Side below Houston that aren’t phucked yet.  The last little island.  Except it’s a ring around a rink.   I wanna be in that top circle again.  That rooftop of hockey.  It’s so funny.  Isn’t that what Jesus and every other channel said.  What the top circle really is.  It ain’t money.  It’s the spiritual source.   And it humor and passion are tickets.   Which makes that section of MSG during Ranger games one of the sacred places on earth.   And that I’m serious about. 


For a great Rangers’ line-up printable one-sheet — go here.

For more hockey stories . . . check out the time I snuck onto the Penguins team bus during the playoffs.

Or the description of Blue Heaven at Madison Square Garden.

Or this amazing primer of Everything You Need to Know about hockey at the Olympics.

Or the complete printable Olympic team rosters with positions, stats, jersey numbers and everything for all the main teams.

Or there’s this nice printable one-sheet of the Penguins playoff roster.

Or a similar printable one-sheet for the Red Wings playoff roster.

Or a riff on how Canada’s flagship broadcast Hockey Night In Canada has suddenly become good again.

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by Brian Hassett     


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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 killerfish_73 // Feb 9, 2008 at 1:14 PM

    what a way to celebrate Hockey Day.!! proud to be a card carrying member of….looking forward to many wonderful blogs, LET’S GO RANGERS!!!

  • 2 killerfish_73 // Feb 9, 2008 at 1:20 PM

    hey Bri, this was after our Rangers Penguins game right? whatta night, do you have the pics of the ESB and from the Blarney Stone? speaking of Rangers and Sacred Places, some memories we’ve shared invovling the two: Mario scores 5 points at MSG (that was an MTV skybox game!), the famous HOF road trip I dragged Christian along for, and of course Mess passes Howe night. that reminds me, tho it’s a bit late i’ll have to post something about Leetchie Night…

  • 3 killerfish_73 // Feb 15, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    i’m late on this, but want to get this in…great karma launching on HDiC!! also, good to hear Zednik showing improvement…and must be in good spirits if he’s already chowin down buffalo wings. scary stuff, shades of Clint Malarchuk…and since they were in buffalo i think it was the same announcer who called that game about 20 years ago.

    on a lighter note, trade deadline coming up and lotsa talk about Jagr being moved. i say he’s done as a Ranger.

  • 4 Brian // Feb 15, 2008 at 2:41 PM

    hey brutha! Yes, that was a good karmic winter day! hey! it wasn’t even a week ago! Geez! so, I’ll be building up the hockey tons more once this other playoff race is decided. I’ll start another thread for the trade deadline. see ya there!

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