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2016-17 New York Rangers Yearbook

THE RANGERS AND NEW YORK A 90-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR By Stan Fischler The date was November 16, 1926 and on that night a love affair took place at New York City’s showplace arena, Madison Square Garden. On the one side there was this brand new hockey team, the Rangers, and on the other were 17,000 spectators who fell in love with the Blueshirts. Oh, so sweetly, that affection remains more intense than ever as America’s most famous hockey franchise celebrates its ninetieth anniversary. That the brand new sextet beat the defending champion Montreal Maroons 1-0 for its world premiere was merely icing on the cake. What mattered was that in no time at all the Rangers had become New York’s darlings to fans and media alike. “The Rangers were here to stay,” wrote Eric Whitehead, author of The Patricks — Hockey’s Royal Family. “They had become a ‘class’ team.” But it was more than “class” that would endear the Blueshirts to New Yorkers, then and now. The club boasted character and characters; none more likable and approachable for more than twenty years than their leader, Lester Patrick. Otherwise known as “The Silver Fox,” Lester imprinted his regal character on the hockey club and the city he now called home. “Lester,” said hockey executive Tommy Gorman, “didn’t adjust to New York, New York adjusted to him.” The direct connection between the Rangers and New York City was evident from the get-go. In just the second year of the club’s existence, the Rangers won The Stanley Cup, defeating the Maroons. By that time, as Whitehead noted, Lester “had a knack too with the little people.” He loved the fans and the vice was versa. If there was any doubt how much New Yorkers already adored their new Champs it was evident as an overflow crowd roared its approval during the Cup celebration at City Hall Park. This feeling already had been established on opening night in 1926 when magnetic Mayor Jimmy Walker sat right behind the Blueshirts bench, rooting them to victory. So it was no surprise that “Beau James” toasted his team and its supporters in the shadow of Broadway’s Woolworth Building skyscraper. Whitehead: “Mayor Jimmy Walker was still preening in the afterglow of the colossal tickertape parade to hail the return of Charles Lindbergh. Now Walker was on the steps of City Hall with the Rangers, beaming and embracing Patrick as the crowd cheered and the flashbulbs popped.” As the seasons unfolded, so too did the intertwining of the Rangers and New Yorkers, and that included the cop on the beat. Typical was the friendship between Lester and Johnny Broderick, a police detective called “the toughest cop in New York.” It was not unusual to see Patrick


2016-17 New York Rangers Yearbook
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