Kevin's note: I totally forgot to post Andrew's entry so this is the final guest blogger post. I will announce the winner by the end of the week.
By: Andrew St-AmantI thought about writing a post giving my opinion on who would play with who and serve up my predictions on the coming season or break down of the Dubi, Cally duo or discuss the Richards signing (I am a fan of it), however I felt like this is my chance to write something meaningful to me that many of you might appreciate.
Living in Sherbrooke Quebec (land of the Montreal Canadiens) I often have been asked "Andrew, why are you a Rangers fan?" and although I have many different answers, depending on who is asking the question, I chose to write about it today. I am not really able to define the why and explain the reasoning, aside from a simple act of brother defiance, all I know is that I love this team.
I remember when I became a Rangers fan like it was yesterday. I was 10 years old and my dad brought my older brother and I to a game between the Rangers and Canadiens at the old Montreal forum. I refused to root for my brother's favourite team as to do so would be to break a sacred code that seems to exist in my family and probably many others, always root against your older brother. Instead I picked for the team with the blue shirts (in those days the home team wore the white shirts (a change I still to this day disagree with). Although my team ended up losing the game 4-3, I stuck with them from then on after which was made easier by the fact that they were the best team in the league that year (1991-92).
Fast forward 19 years and only one Stanley cup, a few playoff rounds won and a lot of disappointing seasons and post seasons, I still bleed blue. I have been a die hard Rangers fan since then and will always be. For those of you thinking..So what, big deal... I'm a Rangers fan too...where is this going? Here is a little perspective.
Coming from a small town (Richmond Quebec, the hometown of ex-Ranger Sylvain Lefebvre) it is beyond unusual for a young boy to be a fan of any other NHL team than the Montreal Canadiens let alone the ever hated New York Rangers. Hockey is life for many people where I hail from and whether it is the month of July or November you are sure to hear something about hockey no matter where you go. Most people I know not only love hockey but they are also very knowledgeable about the sport so conversations/arguments can last a long time, just ask my poor girlfriend (a Habs fan).
I have been heckled, teased and poked fun at (I was present for the 5-0 miracle Habs comeback a few years ago, and I suffered through a 6-2 pounding the year before last at the Bell center in Montreal proudly wearing my Rangers jersey in a sea of red up in the Molson Drunken-Fan Zone). I have argued and argued that the Rangers, not the Canadiens are the team to beat going into every single pre-season for the past 20 years. I have suffered through many games in which I alone cheer for the Rangers as 6 of my buddies high five at every Habs goal.
Every Rangers vs. Habs game always results in a multitude of phone calls and text messages that never fail to come if the Rangers lose (suddenly I'm the most popular guy to talk to when the Habs beat the Rangers). I have sat at the Cage aux sports (a MUST for any hockey fan if ever in Quebec on a Saturday night during hockey season) and listened to hundreds of drunken fans sing OLE OLE OLE at the top of their lungs while I sip on my beer and swallow hard as the only guy in the bar with a Rangers jersey on. I have received console from the odd Leafs or Sens fan who naturally hate all that is le Tricolours on many occasions (never really helps). I sat and watched as crowds and crowds of obnoxious Habs fans sang and danced with their flags on their car windows and in their hands yelling and hollering after their team made it through to the conference finals in a year that our Rangers missed the dance by one freaking point. However through it all I have come to realise that no matter what loyalty is what makes it all worth it. Through all the heckling and lack of moral support from other Rangers fans I could have at any time changed teams, become a Canadiens fan or simply kept my team preference to myself, but I'm proud and always will be so I've gutted it out.
I was 14 years old when the Rangers won the cup. I remember watching every single game glued to the television rooting for my hero Mark Messier and listening to my older brothers and parents (my mother and father LOVED Pavel Bure) howl at every Nucks goal. I remember slamming the door to my room after the Canucks took a 3-0 lead in game 5 only to come back out when the Rangers tied it up. Only to slam it again when the game finally finished 6-3 for Vancouver. I remember the penalty shot by Bure crossing my fingers hoping that Bure wouldn't score, while my uncle who lives in Vancouver teased me over the phone. In the end we all know what happened and the win only furthered my love for this team. However despite all the nostalgic positivity here, there is one thing I have sadly yet to experience.
Growing up and even today I have never had a chance to sit and enjoy a Rangers game with a bunch of fellow Rangers fans. I have never toasted a Rangers victory with a group of like-minded people. Sure I have walked past a fellow fan with a Rangers jersey on just before a game in Montreal and shared that nod of recognition, and I once was lucky enough to be placed in a foursome of golfers at a local country club's annual golf tournament with a man who has been rooting for the Rangers since before I was born, but I have never truly felt what it is like to win and celebrate with other people who share my passion for this team.
Now I have always told myself that this team (unlike Atlanta et al.) is not going anywhere and I have always been comforted by Jimmy Fallon's line in the film "Fever Pitch" in which he said "The greatest thing about baseball (in this case hockey or the Rangers) is that no matter what, you know they will come back again the next year and try again" so I have not been too too worried up until now that I will have my chance.
I recently got news from my girlfriend that her father had given us open train tickets to New York city that we can use at our own leisure and so all that I haven't experienced until now that I listed above will soon be erased and the certainty of that is what makes it all that much more awesome. In a few short months I will have experienced the thrill of cheering as one out of thousands of cheering fans and not have had to worry about the possible repercussions
. I will have felt and smelled and seen with my own eyes the tradition that is MSG and the Rangers. I will have walked past a crowd of hockey fans and not felt like if Waldo were dressed like me no one would buy his stupid "Where's Waldo books" because he'd stick out like a sore thumb. Hopefully this experience will be in a new Derek Stepan home jersey .. I kid I kid..
I would love to read your stories about why you are a fan and what makes you keep coming back, what its like to be so close to fans of major rivals (especially the Devils) and any other thoughts you might have about the psyche of a fan.
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