When did you become a hockey fan? How did you become a Rangers fan? Who are some of the players that made you tune-in? We're always comparing the teams and players of today with clubs of the past and talking about the best players. Sometimes I like to reminisce about when I was a kid and getting into hockey for the first time. It was gradual, calling myself a Rangers fan and then by degrees learning about the players and the game until I was hooked, watching every game and following all the stats. I'm sure most of you have similar stories.
I share a first name with Anders Hedberg, which was great as a kid because it's not too common a name in this country. It was one way other kids could understand my name and hopefully pronounce it correctly. I was born in Brooklyn, but my Mom is a first generation American, her Dad came from Sweden, and I've always rooted for the Swedes – big Lundquist fan here.
Many years before becoming the Rangers' Head Professional European Scout in 2007, Hedberg scored 32 goals and 35 assists during the 1983-84 season when I was 11 years old. Not bad for his fifth season at 33 years old (but I'll expect as good or better from Brad Richards when he's 33 in two years). Back in the 70's he scored 100 points in 65 games in his first WHA season playing alongside Bobby Hull and Ulf Nilsson with the Winnipeg Jets (welcome back Winnipeg Jets!).
The Islanders, who I had already learned to hate, were annoyingly good. Potvin already sucked, even if that knowledge wasn't as widespread yet, but I had to respect Mike Bossy a little bit. Wayne Gretzky was kind of a big deal back then and he definitely made hockey fun. Also, for the 1983-84 Rangers, Pierre Larouche had 48 goals and 81 points, Mark Pavelich had 29 goals and 82 points – pretty good numbers – and the Maloney brothers were still on the team. It's great to still have Dave around as a broadcaster.
That was the rookie season for fellow Swede, Jan Erixon, one of my top five all-time favorite Rangers. Later to be called "The Shadow," and the first winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in 1987-88 (he won the award again in 1990-91), Erixon was a great Ranger, and I'm psyched to see his son Tim join the organization and it sounds like he has a pretty good shot at making the team out of camp.
While I was aware of Hedberg, Erixon, and some of the other players earlier on, 1987-88 was the season I really became invested as a full-time fan, reading the papers, following stats, and catching every game I could.
The Rangers only went 36-34-10 for 82 points that year, but it was a lot of fun following the team. It was a changing game, only a few players left in the league not wearing helmets (Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur played for the Rangers the following season, he may have been the last on the Rangers to play without a helmet, can anyone confirm that?), and it was a changing team: Hedberg was retired, but defenseman James Patrick had a solid fourth season with 17 goals and 45 assists, Jan Erixon established himself as one of the best defensive forwards in the game, Tomas Sandstrom had 28 goals and 40 assists. Rookie Ulf Dahlen put up 29 goals and 23 assists and, along with Erixon and Sandstrom, completed "the Swedish Connection." Another rookie showed promise that year by the name of Brian Leetch; he is another one of my top five all-time favorite Rangers along with Mark Messier who arrived just a few years later in the 1991-92 season.
It was easy to be a fan. I identified with the team and there were good players in every role. I have the same birthday as tough-guy Chris Nilan, who the Rangers acquired from Montreal in 1987-88. We also got Rudy Poeschek that year, though he only played one game, but it's hard to believe, given the way the game is played now, that we had two heavyweight enforcers on the team, and for a few years. In the 1987-88 season the Rangers had 7 guys with over 20 goals, two of those over 30 goals (this year we had 5 guys with 20 or more goals and the highest total was 24). Walt Poddubny put up solid numbers with 38 goals and 50 assists, Kelly Kisio had 23 goals and 55 assists. It was Ron Duguay's final year with the Rangers (after his first 7 seasons with the Rangers, he moved around between Detroit, Toronto, and Pittsburgh, and finished his career in Los Angeles in 1989) but it's cool to still have him around as a broadcaster. John Davidson, who played his final season in the crease back in the 1982-83 season, was an announcer alongside Sam Rosen back then and they were a terrific tandem.
The Rangers have had a lot of great players over the years and they made it easy to be a fan despite a sparse number of championship wins, and it's fun to have a number of these guys still involved with the organization. Do you guys remember a lot of these players? Starting with that 1987-88 season when I really tuned-in, it was seven years, up and down in the standings, but that was a nice run to the cup, and I'm a fan for life as a result. There were some tough years to come after the buzz of the cup wore off. It was fun to have Gretzky here. Despite the ups and downs, the wins and losses, moral victories and disappointments, today I am as big a fan as ever. In fact, it's as fun now as it was the last time we made a run for the cup.
Could that mean?...
So when did you become a fan?
Awesome goal here by Erixon:
The play starts around 2:17. Stastny with a soft turnover picked-up by Messier who runs with it. Erixon tries to join the play while lazy Stastny holds his stick. Finally Erixon pulls away and lazt Stastny hesitates to even give chase. Messier skating up the right side boards makes a perfect pass through the defenseman's legs and right on Erixon's stick who buries it to make it 1-0 Rangers in game 4 of the 1992 Patrick Division semi-final.
Being young, my family mostly influenced the teams i rooted for. We were always Rangers fans but it wasn't anywhere near the level it is now. Two years ago my dad had been given tickets to a game and decided to bring me. It just happened to be one of Avery's first games back after the sloppy seconds comment. it was all over anything that had to do with the Rangers. Avery was what really interested me. I'm still a huge fan of his, and follow what he does during the season, and now I have to watch every Rangers game, and in the off season like not, its torturous. I really am the driving force behind my family's Rangers addiction. I know all the stats and what is going on during the season. I'm a more recent Rangers fan but i know i'll be one for life
Reading this blog gave me goose bumps. I am probably he same age as you, and grew up on LI . Only difference is I started getting into hockey a little earlier. All those names bring back memories. Reijo R. was my first favorite . I wore #28 in organized hockey because of Sandstrom, and # 29 when 28 was taken. My Bro wore 77 or 7 for Espo. Funny someone mentions walking through the smoke, especially in the stairwell!!! First playoff game I went to I think was in 86. Just one game in the blue seats could make you a fan, it was that intense. Too many stories........ and I am not telling on myself, lol.
I was always a solid hockey fan when I was young ( I remember the Gretzky trade when I was six), but I really missed hockey after the lockout and I just got extremely tuned in then.
my first game was Rangers/Quebec in 1988 when I was 9 years old. Dahlen and Erixon each had 2 goals and Sandstrom had 4 points (go swedes!) in an 8-2 blowout. I remember people chanting what I thought was "geek" whenever the guy with the red hair touched the puck. Poeschek had a fight and Beezer got the win. And i remember the tunnel of cigarette smoke you had to walk thought to get to the bathroom.
I first became a hockey fan in 1991/92 when my dad took me to watch my local team, the mighty Blackburn Hawks of the English division 1 (bet nobody else on here can claim such a prestigious introduction to this great game). The Hawks won 18-6 against their local rivals with no less than 3 fights, 6 or 7 scuffles and countless players falling over. My first taste of nhl hockey came courtesy of NHLPA 93 on the sega megadrive, and my older brother and I teamed up as the Rangers to win our 1st stanley cup, quickly falling in love with the pairing of Messier and Graves. I also became such a big fan of Jeff Beukeboom from all the times i managed to injure Pierre Turgeon that I now own a signed Beukeboom jersey. Unfortunately there was no tv coverage in britain till about 1999 so i never got to watch the Rangers play in the playoffs until King Henrik came along. Nowadays i get to watch all the games online so after 18 years of being a Rangers fan I can finally get my regular fix.
This was actually to be my original guest blogger submission, but I didn't send it in. Then when Callahan signed I wrote the Zuccarello-Christensen entry. I sent Kevin the original after the fact and he was good enough to share this one too.
Great to hear folks' stories about discovering hockey and the Rangers. Good stuff.
My first hockey game was Wings-Avs fight night at joe louis. As soon I saw that I was a Wings fan, but then I switched because my friends called me disloyal to New York. I switched and I fell in love with the Rangers. I just think it's the culture of being a Rangers fan. You'll see what I mean if you watch this video.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIg-AWp7U7s Tell me that doesn't give you goosebumps. come on.
I was 3 years old and I remember being in my uncles room while he was talking to a friend about the Rangers trading for Messier. I remember wanting to watch the rangers all the time after hearing my Uncle talk about them. Then the Rangers played a preseason game in Las Vegas and my mom took my sister and cousin to see them and after the game I got my hat signed by Messier (still have the hat!). As if that wasnt enough my love for the Rangers was further cememnted forever while watching them win the cup in 94 (and crying every time the rangers lost to the devils and the canucks).
My whole family is from Detroit and loves the Wings (I have turned my Mom into a Rangers fan first and a Wings fan second though) and they all cant understand how I love the Rangers so much. I always make sure to thank my Uncle whenever I can for making me a Rangers fan.
@ErinM , I wouldn't know what to do during the off-season without blogs like this one.
Here's hoping for a great year out of Avery! He's another one (along with Gaby) that could use a comeback year -- even if he put up a decent number of assists, three goals isn't gonna cut it.
@Ranger Dave ... that was the very first comment here from BLEEd-_-bLUE, but good recall ... I felt like I should've known it!
@stevenabsmith , oh, man... the good old days. yeah, i forgot about the smoke!
@cb1 , Oh, man! Pretty sweet. That actually sounds familiar -- especially as Erixon didn't have too many multi-goal performances. Classic.
@craig_atherton , Awesome. Don't get too much news about English hockey. Good stuff.
@KingBadaBing gives me goosebumps everytime
Theres a good reason for that, guys who cant make it in the minor leagues in USA/Canada are absolute superstars at this level. I played roller hockey for 2 years as a teenager and half the guys I was better than now play for the local ice hockey team. shame I cant ice skate that well/stay sober long enough! @AG_Blue