Mats Zuccarello makes his return to Madison Square Garden tonight after the New York Rangers traded him at the deadline last season. How memorable will it be?
There is no disputing that during his time in the Big Apple, he was the New York Rangers most popular player. The diminutive forward endeared himself to the fans with his effort and excellence over nine seasons in New York. He makes his return tonight and the question is what will he do on an emotional night.
To make the scenario even better, he will be facing his buddy, Henrik Lundqvist. The Ranger goalie cried openly after the Blueshirts swapped Zuccarello to Dallas in a deadline deal last season. You can be sure that Zuccarello will do his best to score on his old teammate.
There will be the inevitable video tribute and the fans will serenade him with the “Zuuuc” chant whenever he touches the puck. They will probably cheer if he scores, the only variable being how important the goal is to the final score.
At any rate, the ingredients are in place for the Zuccarello return to be one of the more memorable. He has some competition in that category.
The most memorable return in the history of the New York Rangers was goalie Eddie Giacomin’s emotional return to New York just two days after being waived and claimed by the Detroit Red Wings. Giacomin had been the spiritual leader for the team for ten years, leading them the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972.
It was a scheduling nightmare for the Blueshirts as the Red Wings claimed Giacomin and sent him in to face his former team. The fans were ready to cheer their hero and for one game, the Red Wings were cheered like the home team at Madison Square Garden. Giacomin wept as the fans chanted “Eddie, Eddie.” They cheered every save he made and booed when the Rangers scored. It was an unbelievable night.
The Red Wings won the game 6-4 as the crowed called for the firing of GM/Coach Emile Francis.