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A Night in The Rangers’ Blue Heaven

April 13th, 2008 · No Comments · New York City, The Hockey Hippie

Rob Salmon’s Rangers Story

My good friend Teresa is a season ticket holder, up in the blues, in section 418. She’s a great Rangers fan, a great New Yorker, and a great buddy… she hooks me up with Rangers tickets! Most of my greatest all time Rangers memories are thanks to her, especially in the past several seasons: the Rangers first home playoff game in almost a decade, first home playoff win since ’97, Mike Richter night, Jagr night every night, and Shanahan’s 600th goal, or Avery vs Tucker and Orr ko’s Fedoruk…. This year the home opener with Leetchie appearance, and the incredakarmic miracle-ing in to Leetch night with all the Ranger legends there plus announcement of Graves #9 jersey retirement, and can’t forget being able to take my buddy Brian to see Crosby and the Pens (“SIDDOWN, CRAWZBEE!!”).

So she tells me she’s got an extra for the home finale vs the Islanders and it’s fan appreciation night. I do my usual post work pre game ritual: pound a few $2 beers at Spanky’s, have some wings, and by 6:40 I’m making my run down 7th Ave. and I’m feeling good as i enter MSG. Another ritual: I pick up a couple of Labatt’s for me and T. She’s such a hardcore hockey fan she prefers the Canadian brew so i like to have one waiting for her when she gets in. I say hi to the crew as i settle into my seat, it’s a great bunch of folks to watch a game with. Guys who’ve been Ranger fans since before i was born, one guy who does sports radio on WFAN, . . . just a fun, entertaining bunch. T gets in and we watch the Rangers finish the first period down 1-0 to the Islanders. After my Labatt’s i decide i should slow down or this’ll be a messy night, so i take a bathroom break and when i come back, T tells me a Garden rep came thru and told her she was picked for the Fan Appreciation jersey giveaway at the end of the game!

We head down during the third, teams tied at 2, and T goes off with the other FA winners one way, I go off with the other FA fans with a cute garden rep who takes us thru the belly of MSG. We take a left past the Zamboni, walk several yards, and stop in front of the runway leading to the ice. A bunch of fans are getting anxious: we can’t really see and have to rely on the crowd reaction to know what’s going on. At the time we were trying to win home ice over the Devils before having to face them in New Jersey in the last game of the season. I figure regardless of the outcome of the game, the real experience is us getting out there by the ice!

Rangers announcer Al Trautwig walks past us and down the runway. The third period ends but we’re still tied at 2. Nothing doing in overtime, then the we lose in the shootout. With the game over, we’re led down the runway towards the ice, we take a right and go right into the visitor’s bench! Al is interviewing Brendan Shanahan on the ice about 8 feet from us. A trainer squirms thru us picking up towels, rolls of tape, and water bottles as we get our cameras ready. T and the rest of the fan appreciation winners are coming out onto the ice.

In a weird almost surreal moment I look around at the view from the bench: at the white ice in front of me, the size of the playing surface, the distance to the penalty boxes, the view of the close seats all around, the huge hanging scoreboard overhead, the banners hanging up in the distant ceiling …. I realize I’ve only ever seen this view on TV or in photos — but now I’m here!

I’m snapped back to reality when i look out on the ice and see the FA winners are all holding up cards with players’ numbers and names written on them. As i watch players take off and sign their jerseys and find the lucky fan holding up their names, I remember me and T were talking about how it’s such a great team there’s no one who’s jersey you really wouldn’t want….then i see Christian Backman find her and hand her his jersey, i think, “Oh yeah, we forgot about him.”

Regardless, a truly amazing Garden experience, and as a sweet encore we’ve both been immortalized in the photo gallery…T in a Fedor Tyutin shot and I’m standing in the bench of a Jagr jersey-hand-off shot. So, a major shout to my buddy T and hockey brother B! And a great 2008 season!!

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by Rob Salmon


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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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