Today is a special day to be a New York Rangers fan, even for someone from the other side of the pond.
It was 26 years ago today that the New York Rangers reached the peak of the hockey mountain, beating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.
That famous cry of “and this one will last a lifetime” from the legendary Sam Rosen still sends chills down the spine today.
The events of 26 years ago at Madison Square Garden will forever be enshrined in the rich tapestry of this storied franchise, and the euphoric joy of seeing Mark Messier hoist that beautiful cup above his head will never leave those who were alive to witness such a magical event.
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But the Rangers finally slaying their Stanley Cup demons in 1994 also has had a profound effect on those who were still in diapers at the time of one of the greatest days in franchise history.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with my work, you will be aware that I’m not from these shores, although I do boast an incredibly strong connection with the United States of America.
No, I was born and raised in a town called Swindon, England, about an hour and a half away from London.
Swindon is famous for its Magic Roundabout (Google it, you have to see it to believe it) and its soccer team once graced the Premier League in the early 90’s but, aside from that, they are hardly big hitters.
What Swindon isn’t known for is its hockey, although the local team, the Swindon Wildcats, boast a proud and successful history.
And, for a young boy growing up in a soccer mad town, I had a round ball thrust into my hands at every opportunity.
So, suffice to say, hockey and the New York Rangers were not on my radar in 1994, although not a lot was at one years of age to be brutally honest.
But, and as I’ve detailed on this site before, the wonderful, thrilling sport of hockey found me and the New York Rangers chose me, rather than the other way round.
And the 1994 Stanley Cup victory played a huge part in my transformation from soccer diehard to Rangers and hockey fanatic.
As a newbie to the sport of hockey, although I grew up with people who played, I digested every bit of content I could feast my eyes on in order to feel part of the fraternity, part of the family.
After all, I didn’t want people thinking I was just some typical tourist invading MSG and degrading their beloved sport.
— Rangers on MSG (@RangersMSGN) June 14, 2020
I wanted to be a true Blueshirt and I wanted people to take me seriously when it came to discussing hockey.
(I hope I’ve achieved both goals).
But that run to ultimate glory in 1994, followed by the jubilant celebrations that followed, was crucial in making me fall head over heels in love with the Rangers.
From Messier’s guarantee to “MATTEAU, MATTEAU, MATTEAU!!!” and the thousands of thousands of Blueshirts that lined the streets of New York for the parade, I knew this was the team I wanted to commit the rest of my life to.
Friends of mine back home don’t understand my connection to America, nor my burning passion for the New York Rangers.
And they never will.
Even if I wanted to it is hard to explain anyway, but the bond I have with the Rangers is unlike something I’ve ever felt before.
That unforgettable night in the concrete jungle where dreams really are made helped to spark it all.
And that is why for me this day will always hold a special place in my heart because, while I was too busy doing whatever it is a baby does, not to mention being a million miles away, the events of 26 years ago helped cement my love for hockey and the New York Rangers in particular.
For that, I’ll always be eternity grateful and thankful.
Enjoy today, Rangers fans and let’s hope we have another Stanley Cup anniversary to celebrate in the not too distant future.