History of the New York Rangers
- 1 History
- 2 Traditions
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
In 1925, the New York Americans joined the National Hockey League, playing in Madison Square Garden. The Amerks proved to be an even greater success than expected, leading Garden president Tex Rickard to go after a team for the Garden despite promising the Amerks that they would be the only hockey team to play there.
Rickard was granted a franchise, which he originally planned to name the New York Giants. By the time the franchise was granted in April 1926, the name "New York Rangers Professional Hockey Club" was the official name. The origin of the name Rangers, as in "Tex's Rangers" is variously attributed to Rickard himself or the New York press. Rickard managed to get future legendary Toronto Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe to assemble the team. However, Smythe had a falling-out with Rickard's hockey man, Col. John S. Hammond, and was fired as manager-coach on the eve of the first season — he was paid a then-hefty $10,000 to leave. Smythe was replaced by Pacific Coast Hockey Association co-founder Lester Patrick, but kept all of the players Smythe had assembled. The new team turned out to be a winner. The Rangers won the American Division title their first year but lost to the Boston Bruins in the playoffs. The team's early success led to players becoming minor celebrities and fixtures in New York City's Roaring Twenties nightlife. It was also during this time, playing at the Garden on 48th Street, blocks away from Times Square, that the Rangers obtained their now-famous nickname "The Broadway Blueshirts".
1927–28 Stanley Cup
In only their second season, the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, defeating the Montreal Maroons three games to two. One of the most memorable stories that emerged from the Finals involved Patrick playing in goal at the age of 44. At the time, teams were not required to dress a backup goaltender so when the Rangers' regular goaltender, Lorne Chabot, left a game with an eye injury, Maroons head coach Eddie Gerard vetoed his original choice for a replacement (who was Alex Connell, another NHL goalie of the old Ottawa Senators who was in attendance for the game). An angry Patrick lined up between the pipes for two periods in game two of the Stanley Cup Finals, allowing one goal to Maroons center Nels Stewart. Frank Boucher would score the game-winning goal in overtime for New York. An expansion team would not come this far this fast in North American professional sports until the Philadelphia Atoms won the North American Soccer League title in their first year of existence.
1932–33 Stanley Cup
After a loss to the Bruins in the 1928–29 finals and a few mediocre seasons in the early 1930s, the Rangers, led by brothers Bill and Bun Cook on the right and left wings, respectively, and Frank Boucher at center, would defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1932–33 best-of-five finals, three games to one, to win their second Stanley Cup, exacting revenge on the Leafs' "Kid line" of Busher Jackson, Joe Primeau, and Charlie Conacher. The Rangers would spend the rest of the 1930s playing close to .500 hockey until their next Cup win. Lester Patrick stepped down as head coach and was replaced by Frank Boucher.
1939–40 Stanley Cup
In 1939–40, the Rangers finished the regular season in second place behind the Boston Bruins. The two teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins gained a two-games-to-one series lead from the Rangers until they recovered to win three straight games, defeating the first-place Bruins four games to two. The Rangers' first-round victory gave them a bye until the finals. The Detroit Red Wings disposed of the New York Americans in their first round best-of-three series two games to one (even as the Americans had analytical and notorious ex-Bruins star Eddie Shore) and the Toronto Maple Leafs ousted the Chicago Black Hawks two games to none. The Maple Leafs and Red Wings would play a best-of-three series to determine who would go on to play the Rangers in the Cup Finals. The Maple Leafs swept the Red Wings and the Finals match-up was determined. The 1940 Stanley Cup Finals started in Madison Square Garden in New York. The first two games went to the Rangers. In game one the Rangers needed overtime to gain a 1–0 series lead, but they won game two more easily with a 6–2 victory. The series then headed to Toronto where the Maple Leafs won the next two games, tying the series 2–2. In games five and six, the Rangers won in overtime, taking the series four games to two to earn their third Stanley Cup.
The Rangers would collapse by the mid-1940s, losing games by as much as 15–0 and having one goaltender with a 6.20 goals-against average. They would miss the playoffs for five consecutive seasons before squeaking into the fourth and final playoff spot in 1948. They lost in the first round and would miss the playoffs again in 1949. In the 1950 finals, the Rangers were forced to play all of their games on the road (home games in Toronto) while the circus was at the Garden. They would end up losing to the Detroit Red Wings in overtime in the seventh game of the finals, despite a stellar first-round performance as underdogs to the Montreal Canadiens.
During this time, Red Wings owner James E. Norris became the largest stockholder in the Garden. However, he did not buy controlling interest in the arena, which would have violated the NHL's rule against one person owning more than one team. Nonetheless, he had enough support on the board to exercise de facto control.
The post-Original Six era
The Rangers remained a mark of futility in the NHL for several years, missing the playoffs in 12 of the next 16 years. However, the team was rejuvenated in the late 1960s, symbolized by moving into a newly-rebuilt Madison Square Garden in 1968. A year earlier, they made the playoffs for the first time in five years on the strength of rookie goaltender Eddie Giacomin and acquired 1950s Montreal Canadiens star right wing Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.
The Rangers made the Finals twice in the 1970s, but lost both times to two 1970s powerhouses; in six games to the Boston Bruins in 1972, who were led by such stars as Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge, Johnny Bucyk, and Wayne Cashman; and in five games to the Canadiens in 1979, who had Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Ken Dryden, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard. This time the Rangers had Esposito, but it didn't matter, as the Canadiens were dominant.
By 1972, the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals despite losing high-scoring center Jean Ratelle (who had been on pace over Bruin Phil Esposito to become the first Ranger since Bryan Hextall in 1942 to lead the NHL in scoring) to injury during the stretch drive of the regular season. The strength of players like Brad Park, Ratelle, Vic Hadfield, and Rod Gilbert (the last three constructing the famed "GAG line", meaning "goal-a-game") would still carry them through the playoffs. They would defeat the defending-champion Canadiens in the first round and the Chicago Blackhawks in the second, but lost to the Bruins in the finals.
The Rangers played a legendary semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1973–74 playoffs. This series was noted for a game seven fight between Dale Rolfe of the Rangers and Dave Schultz of the Flyers. Schultz pummeled Rolfe without anyone on the Rangers lifting a finger to protect him (the GAG line was on the ice at the time). This led to the belief that the Rangers of that period were soft, especially when taking into account the bullying endured by the Rangers during the 1972 finals. One example is Gilbert's beating at the hands of Derek Sanderson of the Bruins.
Their new rivals, the New York Islanders, who entered the league in 1972 after paying a huge territorial fee — some $4 million — to the Rangers, were their first-round opponent in 1975. After splitting the first two games, the Islanders defeated the more-established Rangers eleven seconds into overtime of the deciding game three, establishing a rivalry that continued to grow for years.
After some off years in the mid-to-late 1970s, they picked up Esposito and Carol Vadnais from the Bruins for Park, Ratelle, and Joe Zanussi in 1975. Swedish stars Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson jumped to the Rangers from the maverick World Hockey Association. And in 1979 they defeated the surging Islanders in the semi-finals and would return to the finals again before bowing out to the Canadiens. The Islanders got their revenge, however, eliminating the Rangers in four consecutive playoff series starting in 1981 en route to their second of four consecutive Stanley Cup titles.
The Rangers stayed competitive through the 1980s and early 1990s, making the playoffs each year except for one but never going very far. An exception was 1985–86, when the Rangers, behind rookie goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, upended the Patrick Division-winning Flyers in five games followed by a six-game win over the Washington Capitals in the Patrick Division Finals. Montreal disposed of the Rangers in the Wales Conference Finals behind a rookie goaltender of their own, Patrick Roy. The Rangers then acquired superstar center Marcel Dionne after almost 12 years as a Los Angeles King the next year. In 1988, Dionne moved into third place in career goals scored (since bettered by Brett Hull). But Dionne's always-churning legs started to slow the next year, thereby ensuring that his goals came further and further apart. "Because you love the game so much, you think it will never end," said Dionne, who spent nine games in the minors before retiring in 1989. He would only play 49 playoff games in 17 seasons with the Rangers, Kings, and Detroit Red Wings.
The many playoff failures convinced Rangers fans that this was a manifestation of the Curse of 1940, which is said to either have begun when the Rangers management burnt the mortgage to Madison Square Garden in the bowl of the Stanley Cup after the 1940 victory or by Red Dutton following the collapse of the New York Americans franchise. In the early 1980s, Islander fans began chanting "1940! 1940!" to taunt the Rangers. Fans in other cities soon picked up the chant.
Frustration was at its peak when the 1991–92 squad captured the Presidents' Trophy. They took a 2-1 series lead on the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins and then faltered in three straight (most observers note a Ron Francis slapshot from the blue line that eluded Mike Richter as the series' turning point). The following year, injuries and a 1-11 finish landed the Rangers in the cellar of the Patrick Division after being in a playoff position for much of the season. Coach Roger Neilson did not finish the season. The off-season hiring of controversial head coach Mike Keenan was criticized by many who pointed out Keenan's 0–3 record in the finals.
During this period, the Rangers were owned by Gulf+Western, which was renamed to Paramount Communications in 1989, and sold to Viacom in 1994. Viacom then sold the team to ITT Corporation and Cablevision, and a couple of years later, ITT sold their ownership stake to Cablevision, who still owns the team today
1993–94 Stanley Cup: the ending of the curse
The 1993–94 season was a successful one for Rangers fans, as Mike Keenan led the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years. Two years prior, they picked up center Mark Messier (now with the Rangers as special assistant to president and general manager), who was a part of the Edmonton Oilers' Cup-winning teams. Adam Graves, who also came from the Oilers, joined the Rangers as well. Other ex-Oilers on the Rangers included Esa Tikkanen and trade deadline acquisitions Oilers Captain Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Graves would set a team record with 52 goals, breaking the old record of 50 held by Vic Hadfield. This record would later be broken by Jaromír Jágr on April 8, 2006, against the Boston Bruins.
The Rangers clinched the Presidents' Trophy by finishing with the best record in the NHL at 52–24–8, setting a franchise record with 112 points. Their winning of the inaugural Atlantic Division title was only one of three times that the division title wasn't won by two of their biggest rivals, the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Rangers successfully made it past the first two rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the New York Islanders, who were seeded eighth in the first round, and then breezed by the Washington Capitals, seeded seventh, in five. However, things got interesting in the Conference Finals against the third-seeded Devils. The Rangers lost the series opener at home in double overtime, but won the next two games before the Devils beat the New York offense and defeated them 3-1 and 4-1. The series headed back to the Meadowlands for the next game, but the day before that sixth game, Rangers' captain Mark Messier stepped up and guaranteed a win. Keenan said of the guarantee:
|“||Mark was sending a message to his teammates that he believed together we could win. He put on an amazing performance to make sure it happened.||”|
In that sixth game, Messier rose to the occasion and scored three times in the final period to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 win and set up a seventh game back at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won game seven 2-1, when Stephane Matteau scored a goal in double overtime, leading the team to the finals for the first time since 1979.
Up against the Vancouver Canucks, the Cinderella team from the west, the Rangers again lost the series opener at home in overtime. Brian Leetch hit the crossbar at one end, and the Canucks going down to score the winner at the other on a shot from Greg Adams. The Rangers then bounced back and they won the next three games, allowing the Canucks just four goals. That set the stage for a game-five Stanley Cup celebration at home, the first time the team had ever been in a position to win a Cup at the Garden.
That night, the Canucks were leading 3-0 by the third minute of the third period. Even though the Rangers pulled even by the midway point, Vancouver took the lead 29 seconds later and cruised to a 6-3 win. New York's parade hopes were given another jolt two nights later when the Canucks put together a 4-1 win. Keenan said of playing game seven:
|“||Even though we were up 3-1 in the series and had to play a seventh game, the team was very confident and very poised. We had a lot of experience and a lot of leadership in our room...I told the players they should be proud of themselves...play hard and enjoy the moment. This is what we all dreamed about, playing a seventh game on home ice to win the Stanley Cup.||”|
Entering Game 7, Keenan became the first person to be a head coach in game sevens of the Stanley Cup Finals for two different teams. Keenan had coached the Flyers in 1987 when they lost to the Oilers. Mike Babcock would join him in this feat in 2009 while with the Detroit Red Wings, having been with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim when they lost to the Devils in 2003 (the home team won all seven games of the series).
The seventh game was a classic. The Rangers took a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Leetch and Graves, but Vancouver captain Trevor Linden scored short-handed to cut the lead. Messier scored later on a power play to put the Rangers up 3-1. Linden scored a power play goal early in the third, but the Rangers managed to hang on, 3-2, as the Garden erupted in cheers and tears. Mark Messier provided two of the most memorable images of that Stanley Cup Finals that would become iconic images to the Rangers and their fans and in all of hockey: first, jumping up and down like a little kid with overwhelming emotion as ticker tape fell, then, showing incredible emotion as he accepted the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, as he became the first (and to this date, the only) player to captain two teams to the Stanley Cup, having been with the Oilers in 1990. This image was taken by George Kalinsky, photographer at Madison Square Garden, and were captured on film.
Leetch became the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, the first non-Canadian to win it, and Keenan avoided being the first coach to lose Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals with two teams. However, this unfortunate fate would befall Babcock in 2009 when the Red Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in-state rivals of the Flyers.
The Rangers winning this Stanley Cup was the highest-rated single CBC Sports program in history to that point (Now that distinction belongs to the men's ice hockey gold medal game between Canada and the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympics, when Canada won its first Olympic ice hockey gold medal since the 1952 Winter Olympics). CBC commentator Bob Cole said that Game 7 was one of his most memorable TV games.
1994–2004: expensive acquisitions
Despite having coached the Rangers to a regular season first place finish and the Stanley Cup, head coach Mike Keenan left after a dispute with General Manager Neil Smith. During the 1994–95 lockout-shortened season, the Rangers struggled to find their form and lost in the second round of the playoffs. They snuck in with the 8th seed and defeated Quebec in the first round, but were swept by Philadelphia in the 2nd round. Succeeding Rangers coach Colin Campbell orchestrated a deal that sent Sergei Zubov and center Petr Nedved to Pittsburgh in exchange for defenceman Ulf Samuelsson and left winger Luc Robitaille in the summer of 1995. The Rangers landed an aging Wayne Gretzky in 1996, but even with The Great One, they would fizzle out. Their 1994 stars were aging and many retired or dropped off in performance. Gretzky's greatest accomplishment was leading them to the 1997 Eastern Conference finals, where they lost 4–1 to the Eric Lindros-led Philadelphia Flyers. After General Manager Neil Smith ran Messier, a former Oiler teammate of Gretzky's, out of town in the summer of 1997 and failed in a bid to replace him with Colorado Avalanche superstar Joe Sakic, the Rangers began a streak of seven seasons without making the playoffs, despite routinely having the highest payroll in the league.
In March 2000, Smith was fired along with head coach John Muckler, and, that summer, James Dolan hired Glen Sather to replace him. By the end of the 2000–01 season, the Rangers had landed a lot of star power. Mark Messier had returned to New York, Theoren Fleury joined the Rangers after spending most of his career with the Calgary Flames, and Eric Lindros was traded to the Rangers from the Philadelphia Flyers. The Rangers also acquired Pavel Bure late in the 2001–02 season from the Florida Panthers. It was the rookie season of goalie Dan Blackburn, who made the NHL All-Rookie Team even as the Rangers fell back to last place in the conference. Despite these high-priced acquisitions the Rangers still finished out of the playoffs. Later years saw other stars such as Alexei Kovalev, Jaromir Jagr, Martin Rucinsky and Bobby Holik added, but in 2002–03 and 2003–04, the team again missed the playoffs. Blackburn started strongly in 2002–03, but burned out after 17 games. He missed 2003–04 due to mononucleosis and a damaged nerve in his left shoulder. Blackburn could not rehabilitate the damaged nerve, and was forced to retire at age 22.
2005–present: post-lockout success
Towards the end of the 2003–04 season Sather finally gave in to a rebuilding process by trading away Leetch, Kovalev, and eight others for numerous prospects and draft picks. With the retirements of Bure and Messier as well as Lindros signing with the Maple Leafs, the post-lockout Rangers, under new head coach Tom Renney, moved away from high-priced veterans towards a group of talented young players, such as Petr Prucha, Dominic Moore, and Blair Betts. However, the focus of the team remained on veteran superstar Jaromir Jagr. The Rangers were expected to struggle during the 2005–06 season for their eighth consecutive season out of the postseason. For example, Sports Illustrated declared them the worst team in the league in their season preview, but behind stellar performances by Swedish rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Straka, Prucha, and Jagr, the Rangers finished the season with their best record since 1993–94 (44–26–12).
Jaromir Jagr broke the Rangers' single-season points record with a first-period assist in a 5–1 win against the New York Islanders on March 29, 2006. The assist gave him 110 points on the season, breaking Jean Ratelle's record. Less than two weeks later, on April 8, Jagr scored his 53rd goal of the season against the Boston Bruins, breaking the club record previously held by Adam Graves. Two games prior, on April 4, the Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2, in a shootout, to clinch a playoff spot for the first time since the 1996–97 season. On April 18, the Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators 5–1, and, due to wins by division rivals New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, the Rangers fell back to third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference to end the season. In the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals the Rangers drew a matchup with the Devils and were defeated in a four-game sweep. In the process they were outscored 17–4, as New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur took two shutouts and a 1.00 goals-against average to Lundqvist's 4.25. In the first game of the series Jagr suffered an undisclosed injury to his left shoulder, diminishing his usefulness as the series went on. Jagr missed game two of the series and was back in the lineup for game three. He was held to one shot on goal. On his first shift of game four, Jagr re-injured his shoulder and was unable to return.
Jagr fell two points short of winning his sixth Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion in 2005–06 (the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton claimed the award, his first, with 125 points), but Jagr did win his third Pearson Award as the players' choice for the most outstanding player. He has thus tied Guy Lafleur in third, and needs one more to tie his ex-centerman, Mario Lemieux, in second and two more to tie Wayne Gretzky in first for times receiving the Pearson Award. On opening night of the 2006–07 season, Jagr was named the first team captain since Messier's retirement.
With the Rangers doing so well in 2005–06, expectations were raised for the 2006–07 season, evidenced by Sports Illustrated then predicting the Rangers would finish first in their division. Realizing that the team had trouble scoring goals in the 2005-06 campaign, the Rangers went out and signed long-time Red Wing Brendan Shanahan to a one-year contract. However, the organization remains committed to its rebuilding program despite the signing of the 37-year-old winger.
Though the Rangers started a bit slow in the first half of the 2006–07 season, the second half was dominated by the stellar goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. The acquisition of Sean Avery brought new life to the team, and the Rangers finished ahead of Tampa Bay and the Islanders to face Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs. The Rangers swept the series thanks to play from all around the ice. However, the Rangers lost the next round to Buffalo four games to two in a hard-fought series.
At the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers chose Alexei Cherepanov 17th overall. Cherepanov had been ranked by Central Scouting as the number one European skater and was considered to be a top five pick leading up to the draft, but fell due to teams being unsure whether he would ever come to the NHL from Russia. However, Cherepanov died on October 13, 2008 during a game in Russia playing for Avangard Omsk with former Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr. The death is still being investigated as of October 17, 2008.
The 2007 free agency season started with a bang for the Rangers signing two high profile centerman, Scott Gomez from the New Jersey Devils for a seven-year, $51.5 million contract as well as Chris Drury from the Buffalo Sabres for a five-year deal worth $32.25 million. The moves, along with retaining most other key players, have been met favorably as the Rangers appeared to be strong Stanley Cup contenders, making the playoffs for the third consecutive season and the second round for the second season in a row.
In the 2008-2009 season after a fast start the team slowed leading to coach Tom Renney's dismissal and his replacement by John Tortorella. Sean Avery then returned to the Rangers, claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars. The team subsequently took off and clinched a playoff spot on the second to last game of the season.. In the first round of the playoffs their offensive woes continued and they were eliminated when the Washington Capitals scored a goal late in game 7 of the first round.
Since the lockout, the Rangers have only missed the playoffs once in 8 years. They had their deepest run, which brought the team and their fans to the Conference Finals for the first time in a decade, during the 2011-2012 campaign.
||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2007)|
A legendary fan of the Rangers who—from 1971 to 1995—donned an Indian headdress complete with Ranger facepaint, and became an unofficial mascot, "wandering around Madison Square Garden shaking hands, whooping and doing a war dance."  At one game, an Islander fan stole the headdress and was chased by almost an entire section of Ranger fans. They returned moments later with the headdress and the Islander jersey the fan was wearing. The Chief became famous for his game recaps on the Steve Sommers radio show on WFAN. He has been honored in the 2009 pre-game "I am a Ranger!" video. The Chief retired from the NY Rangers in 1995 after the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. The Chief worked at Gerry Cosby's sports shop located outside of Madison Square Garden.
The Chief, whose real name was Robert Comas, ran for public office as the Republican Party candidate for the State Senate in the 21st District, which includes Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin and other parts of southern Brooklyn. When Comas was unable to gather enough signatures to make the ballot, the Republican party was unable to run a candidate for the seat. Comas did run on the Conservative line. Comas lost the election and was never really a factor.
Shortly after his bid for the New York State Senate failed, the Chief moved to Florida, where he resided until his death on September 17, 2009. He was 62.
In the portal between sections 223 and 224 (he danced in the aisle between sections 406 and 407 pre-renovation), Dancing Larry comes out during the last TV timeout of third period to get the crowd and the team pumped up (provided the Rangers aren't laying an egg). Shown on the big screen, Larry dances, and finishes by commanding all to rise from their seats. He dances to the song Strike It Up by Black Box which is cued up on the Madison Square Garden loud speakers by the technical staff. Dancing Larry has been a Rangers season ticket holder since 1988, and his famous dance routine has its origins in the mid-to-late 1990s. Following a brief period in April–May 2008 when Larry stopped dancing, he has since returned.
He is believed to have modeled his Dancing Larry personality off of Dancing Harry, an unofficial mascot at Madison Square Garden for New York Knicks games in the 1970s.
Larry has been noted on occasion to push people out of his camera shot. Including a 10 year old boy name Mike Zippo, who is currently a season ticket holder today, and most famously a girl in her early 20's which forever earned him his derogatory nickname. The nickname itself reached a publicity peak back in 2008 ( around the time when he went on hiatus ) when several media outlets, including the New York Times  and internet blogs such as About.com  put pressure on MSG because of the atmosphere that they were enabling. Many people pointed fingers at the thousands of fans which were chanting the derogatory name, but others felt that MSG itself was complicit and in fact instigating the the chant by continuing to show Larry despite knowing the crowd reaction and subsequent reaction it would trigger.
Larry is considered a great asset to Madison Square Garden by many Rangers fans, but has a very large group of detractors among long time season ticket holders that feel his antics have grown tiresome. Larry has failed to add anything new to his "show" and the song, some 22 years old now, is found to be irritating to many fans that have seen it all too many times.
When the Rangers score a goal at Madison Square Garden the "Slapshot" (aka "The New York Rangers Goal Song") song is played following three blasts of a NYC Fire Engine horn. The song made its debut on January 20, 1995, the night the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Banner was raised to the rafters. It was written by Ray Castoldi, the Music Director at Madison Square Garden. The song can be heard here.
After every home victory the "New York Rangers Victory Song" is played. It was written in 1940 by J. Fred Coots (an avid Rangers fan and New Yorker) to pay tribute to the then-Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers. The music for the song can be heard here. Alternatively, Viva la Vida by Coldplay is also performed.
Salute the crowd
After every Rangers home win, the team gathers at center ice and raise their sticks in the air to salute the Rangers supporters. The salute (the idea of defenseman Darius Kasparaitis) began in the early part of the 2005–06 season, and has proved extremely popular with both the players and fans alike. Specifically, after the Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals in the longest shootout game in its short history in the NHL (thanks to the circus-like goal by Marek Malík), the team gathered at center ice to salute their fans.
The salute to the fans is typically done only after home victories. However, after the Rangers fell to the rival New Jersey Devils in a four-game sweep in the first round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the fans' cheers at the conclusion of an otherwise outstanding breakout season caused the players to stay on the ice after the loss and give the fans one final salute for the year. The Rangers also did the salute at the conclusion of the second round of the 2007 playoffs after losing Game 6, and the series, to the Buffalo Sabres. The New York Islanders later copied the "salute to the fans" after each home game victory, the minor difference being at the blue line rather than center ice.
At the start of the 2005–06 season, Rangers coach Tom Renney unveiled the popular Neil Diamond song "Sweet Caroline" as the club's theme song for the year. This song is one of Jaromir Jagr's favorites, and, since he became captain, the song has been played in the Rangers locker room following each victory. Eventually, the fans discovered this, and the song was played over the MSG PA system during games in which the Rangers are winning handily with five minutes left to go in the game.
The blue seats
In Rangers fan lore, one of the most traditional, as well as one of the rowdiest, sections of the Garden is the blue seats, up in the 400 level. The nickname comes from the color of the old seats in the Garden, and the cheapest seats being the blue ones up top. In the 1970s, "blue-seaters" would heckle opposing players, and also heckle the "red-seaters", down below. This led to the notation that the blue seats were also home to a great deal of profanity, or "blue language."
The generally working-to-middle-class Ranger fans upstairs would poke fun at corporate- and business-type people in the more expensive seats of the 100 level. This tradition carried over to the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, where the "Bleacher Creatures" would point to the outfield boxes and chant "RED seats suck!" and yell out the price of those seats when a fan in them was thrown out, i.e. "Thirty dollars!"
Blue-seaters would also come up with the popular Garden chants such as "Potvin Sucks", "Beat Your Wife Potvin" (both of those chants pertain to former New York Islanders defenseman, Denis Potvin), and "Shoot The Puck Barry" (started for Barry Beck, a Ranger in the 1980s). Though the seats in the 400 level at MSG were once teal thanks to a 1990 renovation of the Garden, they were still referred to as the blueseats, and the supporters who sit up there are called blueseaters. The blueseaters still continue many of the traditions that they are known for.
Following the 3-year transformation at the Garden that began in 2011, the blue seats now occupy only one end zone of the west side of the arena where the Rangers shoot twice. Because of the new balcony added above, these seats are considered "limited view"—however still remain the cheapest and most affordable seats in the building. Beginning in 2012, the blue seats will revert to their original color instead of teal.
John Amirante is the long-time national anthem singer at Madison Square Garden.
- Losing the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers by Barry Meisel (1995) (ISBN 0-684-81519-2)
- New York Rangers: Millennium Memories by the NY Daily News (2000) (ISBN 1-58261-147-5)
- New York Rangers: Seventy-Five Years by John Halligan (2000) (ISBN 0-7607-2298-6)
- The New York Rangers: Broadway's Longest Running Hit by John Kreiser and Lou Friedman (1997) (ISBN 1-57167-041-6)
- The New York Rangers (Images of Sports) by John Halligan (2003) (ISBN 0-7385-1228-1)
- The Rangers by Brian McFarlane (1997) (ISBN 0-7737-6007-5)
- Thin Ice: A Season in Hell With the New York Rangers by Larry Sloman (1981) (ISBN 0-440-18571-8)
- Rangers' Biggest Trades Since 1990 (October 6, 2006)
- Smythe, Conn; Young, Scott (1981). Conn Smythe: If you can't beat 'em in the alley. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart. ISBN 0-7710-9078-1.
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- Diamos, Jason (April 9, 2006). "Jagr Scores To Set Record And Sets Up Winning Goal". The New York Times. p. 8.1.
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