As I mentioned here previously, the New York Rangers will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of them winning the Stanley Cup in 1994 on Friday, February 8.
While I will not be at the game tomorrow night, I just wanted to tell the team’s fans to put their feelings aside about what happened last season and what is currently happening this season.
February 8 should be a time where fans celebrate what was a magical year for their favorite hockey time that culminated when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 back on June 14, 1994. Heck, by doing so, it may even give this hockey club for the future because every team in the NHL has an opportunity to win a Cup in any given season.
One guy that fans should appreciate is the head coach of that 1994 team, Mike Keenan. He may have been rough around the edges and a bit of taskmaster, but no matter which way he behaved, this team went out and got it done for Keenan, even if it may have been done out of spite.
In the beginning of that special season, the team’s bench boss showed his players a video of past championship parades in New York City. He wanted to have his team imagine what it would be like to win it all and then see how the City would celebrate the team’s success.
Speaking of Keenan, a lot of credit needs to be given how team captain Mark Messier handled Keenan’s words and then helped the players to understand them. Messier was a guy who teammates could go to for help and to explain things so that the message could be relayed in a recognizable tone to Keenan.
One cannot forget what he did when the team faced elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Going into Game 6, the Blueshirts found themselves down 3-2 in the series after playing two atrocious games.
Instead of having his team play with the weight of the world on their shoulders, Messier took it upon himself to put the game solely on his shoulders. He guaranteed to the media that his team would win Game 6 to force a Game 7 back at Madison Square Garden.
Not only did Messier deliver on his promise, but he did so in unbelievable fashion. He picked-up four points including a hat trick in delivering one of the greatest performances in NHL playoff history.
Of course, we also cannot forget what Stephane Matteau did in the Eastern Conference Finals. He scored two overtime goals, including this unbelievable one to vanquish the team’s Hudson River rivals.
Being a goaltender myself, I cannot forget the save that Mike Richter made on Pavel Bure’s penalty shot in Game 4 of the Final. The fact that he was able to stay with Bure and then make an unbelievable stretch to stone Bure with his right pad was unreal.
We also need to appreciate what Brian Leetch did for the team in the playoffs that season. In winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in the playoffs, he delivered in every single way and was the team’s most consistent and best player from Game 1 of the first round all the way through to Game 7 of the Final.
Some credit also needs to be given to Blueshirt fans. I admit that I had my doubts in the Eastern Conference Finals, but I never let my feelings for this team waiver.
Instead, I focused on being positive and believing that 1994 was truly the season where the 54-year curse would be slayed. When it finally happened, it was one of the best feelings in the world, something that I don’t even know if I will experience again in my lifetime.
The franchise and their fans should also appreciate both Sam Rosen and John Davidson for what they did that season. They kept things in a positive light and when the clock hit zero on that special night, they truly celebrated with the fans by being our voice.
1994 was a magical year for the Rangers and their fans. On February 8, let’s all just take the time to remember how great that team was and what they did for the franchise and the City.