If you are a New York Rangers fan, then you know just how special 1994 was not only to you, but the entire franchise, city, and even the NHL as a whole.
This was the year that the Blueshirts ended their 54-year curse and won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. After 54 years of heartbreak, bad luck, and even some bad play, the Rangers had their best season in franchise history and vanquished the ghosts that had haunted Madison Square Garden for such a long time.
On February 8, the franchise will be celebrating their 25th Cup-winning anniversary. Not only is it crazy that it’s been 25 years since they won hockey’s Holy Grail, but they could have won the Cup on their 20th anniversary (2014) when they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the Final.
That year, I turned 11-years-old. I have fond memories of that season that I would like to share here with you folks.
They are not in ny particular order, but here are the three things I remember most about that magical season:
Mike Richter’s Coming Out Party
Prior to 1994, Richter had established himself as a pretty solid netminder. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist during the 1990-91 season, was an All-Star in the 1991-92 season, and had shown he could play well in the playoffs.
In 1994, however, he showed that he was an elite masked man. He was an All-Star that won the All-Star MVP award and finished the regular season with a 42-12-6 record to go along with a 2.57 goals-against average, a .910 save percentage, and five shutouts.
It was the playoffs where Richter truly shined. He stoned Vancouver Canucks’ forward Pavel Bure on a penalty shot in Game 4 of the Final, won 16 games, and finished the postseason with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
Adam Graves Pots over 50 goals
This was one of the greatest things to see during the year. Adam Graves was already a fan favorite, but in this particular season, he showed that he could put the puck in the net.
In 1994, Graves broke Vic Hadfield’s record scored a then franchise record 52 goals. He also played in his first NHL All-Star Game, was named to the NHL’s second All-Star team, and won King Clancy Memorial Trophy in recognition of his continuing work with charitable causes.
In the postseason, he picked-up 17 points on 10 goals and 7 assists. He also scored a goal in Game 7 when the Rangers clinched the Cup.
Mark Messier’s Guarantee
Believe it or not, the Blueshirts almost ended up getting knocked out in Eastern Conference Finals by the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 before winning Game 7 on Stephane Matteau’s unbelievable overtime goal.
Going into Game 6, the Blueshirts were down 3-2 and had not played well in Games 4 or 5. In fact, there had been some tension in the locker room due to then head coach Mike Keenan.
With all of this going on, then team captain and hero Mark Messier took it upon himself to shift the focus on him and he guaranteed that the team would win Game 6.
Not only did the team end up winning the game, but Messier delivered one of the greatest playoff performances of all time. He picked-up four points with a hat trick and showed that like New York Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath, he could come through on his big-game promise.