“There’s something about stepping into the Garden and feeling the electricity in the air before a game ... It’s like you can feel the stands thumping with the heartbeat of all the fans in attendance ... Nothing can compare with being a Rangers fan in The Garden.” Balcony patrons, who sat more than 100 feet above the ice, were breeds unto themselves. What better proof than the fact that they had their own entrance on 49th Street that led to both the side and end balconies? No fan was more dedicated or passionate than former- FBI man Paul Gardella. He set an unofficial record, having seen more than 1000 consecutive games, despite blizzards, hurricanes and any other storm that hit the city. As vice-president of the Rangers Fan Club in the early 1950s, I had the good fortune — as did other RFC members — to meet such Hall of Famers as Andy Bathgate, Gump Worsley, and Harry Howell among other Rangers. Meanwhile, a fourth edition of Madison Square Garden was being built atop Penn Station. When it opened during the 1967-68 season, it maintained its nickname — The World’s Most Famous Arena. Likewise, more and more famous hockey stars skated on its new ice. These included Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield, who comprised the superb GAG Line — as in Goal A Game. But no event coupled the Rangers to New York City more than the Mark Messier-inspired Stanley Cup triumph on June 14, 1994 and its aftermath. The victory celebration on Cup-winning night actually was overshadowed in a sense by the mammoth parade down the city’s Canyon of Heroes three days later. “More than one million fans came out to salute the Rangers,” wrote Tim Sullivan in Battle on the Hudson, “further illustrating just how far hockey had come to New York.” Nothing said it better about how the team and city intertwined than a comment by Rangers defenseman Kevin Lowe: “I’ll never forget a poster that I saw that day at the parade. It said it all. It was held by a little boy and it said ‘I thank you.’ And ‘My father thanks you.’ And ‘His father thanks you.’ And I knew right then and there what it meant to so many families who have been following the Rangers through everything for all those years. “When you’re playing the game, and the series goes from one to the other, you’re focused on hockey, hockey, hockey. But when you get a chance to step back, after the fact, and see things like that, it makes it so much more special.” The Cup win took place 22 years ago. Since then a new generation of Rangers rooters has sprouted; as faithful and passionate as ever. Typical is Brooklynite Antoinette Cammarano. Even though she was too young to remember the 1994 victory, she echoes the thoughts of Blueshirts fans dating back 90 years: “There’s something about stepping into the Garden and feeling the electricity in the air before a game,” she concludes. “It’s like you can feel the stands thumping with the heartbeat of all the fans in attendance.” Then, a pause: “Nothing can compare with being a Rangers fan in The Garden.” Now, as it was then on November 16, 1926!
2016-17 New York Rangers Yearbook
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