Like SNY Rangers blogger Andrew Fiorentino said, “I knew the Rangers were going to lose the game. They always do for these special events.”
Wednesday night’s special event was “Heritage Night presented by American Express,” a celebration of the 85th Anniversary of the New York Rangers franchise.
I had the privilege of meeting Rangers legends Brad Park, Eddie Giacomin, Bob Nevin, and Adam Graves at the pre-game reception in the Transformation Center. Later, in a luxury suite, I mingled with Rod Gilbert, Steve Vickers, and Ron Greschner during the game.
You always hear sports writers say that hockey players are the best interviewees; they’re accessible, personable, well-spoken, and very likable. All of the above were true when I spoke to the legends. They graciously signed autographs, posed for photos, and chatted with fans.
Rod Gilbert even told me a story about his former love – a 20-year-old student from Bangkok, Thailand whom he met when he was 27. It was a bittersweet love that ended in heartbreak, but he said to me, “You look just like her.”
In the midst of all of this, a hockey game was going on. The Rangers may have lost 3-2 to the Boston Bruins, but it was a magical night.
Marian Gaborik’s beautiful goal in the third period – a solid, accurate wristshot that beat goalie Tim Thomas – was a classic example of his skills. He’s never going to be a dazzling offensive player, but Gaborik’s gifted skills exhibit speed and accuracy with good moves around the net.
It was a close game throughout. The Rangers had a chance to tie the game 3-3 with a 5-on-3 power play with 5:47 left in the game, but a combination of Thomas’s brilliant saves and luck kept the Blueshirts from scoring.
Nevertheless, it was a tense game. The [yellow tail] Pinot Grigio that I was drinking had me pumped and cheering raucously with the crowd below. Every shot on goal required an intake of breath.
Really, the best thing about watching the game from a suite was that I could get food and drinks without missing any portion of the game. It was almost like planting my own living room in Madison Square Garden.
No one really knows why the Rangers tend to lose games on celebratory nights, but one thing is clear: the rich history and traditions of the New York Rangers extend beyond any single game. When I left Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, I left with a feeling of awe, respect, and adulation despite the loss. I left with a newfound appreciation and love for hockey.