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01-19-2013, 01:27 PM
Lion Hound
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: NY
Country: United States
Posts: 4,771
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Two years before they won the cup, the expectations were super high. Mark Messier and Adam Graves came to town. The results were almost instantaneous. They literally brought the whole team together. The change was dramatic. I had season tix at the time. You could feel the difference in the Garden. Fans were working themselves up into a frenzy. The offense was firing on all cylinders. The Power play was intense. Brian Leetch emerged as one of the best offensive defenseman in the game. I think he had over 100 points that season. Mess, Amonte, Turcotte, Nemchinov all hit the 30 goal mark. Gartner had 40. Rangers were a powerhouse. Even James Patrick had 71pts from the Blueline! Come playoffs, expectations were literally through the roof! WFAN was all over them. They were all over the NY Post. Full back page ad’s. Hockey was thriving! Then, playoffs…. Lemieux and Pens, the Curse. Seasons over, and general thinking was we are never going to see this Rangers team win a cup again!

Next season everything was in shambles. Messier and Neilson were at it. The team sensed the animosity between them. Players no longer bought into the system. Like most here mentioned Rangers missed the playoffs, and for the team they had should have never been in that position. Everyone was questioned, except for Messier who had another great season. Leetch going down hurt the team. The curse was back, the Rangers were in a complete downward spiral.

That offseason, was not a great time for Rangers fans. I think deflated was the best word to describe it. After a flat game Keenan who I didn’t like at all during this time, was very outspoken and somewhat unpredictable. He gave it to Leetch. Walked into the locker room and in front of the whole team told him "Chris Chelios is ten times the player than you are." Immediately the press was all over it. Brian Leetch is getting traded to Chicago for Chelios. After that, the Rangers looked like a different club. By the 20 game Mark Messier had them back. The team grew together. They had it all together early and it was like that for the remainder of the season. Offense was front loaded on the top line, however the top line was physically imposing and they always got the job done. The defense was like having two extra forwards with Leetch and Zubov. Teams couldn’t figure them out. Graves was vicious! If you so much as looked at Mess the wrong way you were eating knuckles. Beukeboom was the same way with Leetch. Take a run and him, and Sasquatch was gonna rip your arms off and beat you with them. Kocur struck fear into all the heavies of the time. They were big, physical, and they had each other’s backs. At the midway point the season before was forgotten. Everyone knew something special was happening. Everyone knew the team was legit. Expectations once again were high. So high, that my brother an I traved into Vancouver for game 6. We figured, if…IF they were going to win it there, we waited long enough and we needed to witness it first-hand. We even stayed in the same hotel the players did. If they would have won that night we would have 100% been in that room celebrating with them. In fact the Westin Bayshore where we stayed, had a whole banquet or wedding hall reserved. We walked into it before going to the arena. It was top notch. There was a place for a press conference. Two bars set up. A huge buffet table set up,. Like a Posh NY wedding. After seeing that we walked into that arena knowing the Rangers were going to win it. Then, things got a little crazy. I don’t think I even saw another Rangers fan in the building there. Literally, it was crazy. They allowed signs there. One big one rolld out from the rafters. It read…”Messier, who beat you with the ugly stick”. The game was terrible, and the place took on a different feeling after the loss. Zero security, and some super rabid fans. Started turning into pack mentality. Someone swiped the hat off my head and took off. We got surrounded by a crowd that berated us pretty good. Started to feel like we should get out of there, and soon. We went home to the hotel. That night, up and down Robson street they paraded. Nucks fans literally painted Go Canucks Go on their cars! All night long they went up and down that street honking their hors, cheering and chanting. Being we stayed in the same place the players did you know those guys heard it. The flight home was long. Silence. Nothing was certain anymore. The curse was back. Back in NY on the day of the game I never felt more nervous in my life. Butterflies all day long. Counted the minutes until the game. The outcome of that game 7 I think changed the lives of Rangers fans everywhere. That guy with the sign said it best…”Now I can Die In Peace!”

For the record, I am starting to get butterflies again!

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