Unfortunately, due to other obligations and New Year’s Eve madness, I will more than likely miss most, if not all of, the Alumni game today (3:00PM). I was looking forward to this game just as much as the Winter Classic because you’ll get to see some of the Rangers players your father loved when he was your age. You’ll also see some of the Flyers players your father hated with all his might. For a day, the Rangers/Flyers rivalry goes retro, harkening to the Broad Street Bully days.
More Alumni game thoughts after the jump.
Seeing Mark Messier (who delayed shoulder surgery to be able to play today), Adam Graves, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter (not playing, but will be on the bench as a coach) back at the same rink under the watchful eye of coach Mike Keenan will, certainly bring back 1994. And Lord knows we haven’t been reminded enough of that season, which seems like a lifetime ago. But, seeing John Vanbiesbrouck starting in net, with Ron Greschner and Dave Maloney patrolling the defense, and Mike Gartner, Ron Duguay, and Darren Turcotte on the forward lines will conjure up some memories of different time periods in Rangers history, some being what should have been.
While some memories may be grand, seeing Darius Kasparaitis suit up for the Rangers again may bring back nightmares for some of you – just don’t look at his +/- while with the team, or you’ll be forced to call him Kaspar-minus. Dan Blackburn will bring you back to a time – long before Henrik Lundqvist – where the Rangers thought they had their goalie of the future to lead them back to the promise land. If not for a shoulder injury, Blackburn may have turned out to be something special. I have a fear that Dale Purinton – never to be mistaken for someone with legit hockey talent – may try and fight every member of the Flyers team, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For all the players involved, it’s a chance to feel young again. Going out and playing the sport they invested most of their lives to once again is going to be a surreal feeling. The camaraderie amongst men, the feeling of stepping on to a fresh ice surface, the elation from scoring a goal…all of it will return today and gives these veterans of the game – some of them hall-of-famers – one more taste, if only for a brief moment, of what it’s like to be a hockey player again.