NY Rangers

Family Ties

I went to my first ever Ranger game in 1989.  It was a Sunday afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I went with my dad.

Five years later, the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.

The year after that, I met my friend Rob, who posts as @NotGlenSather on Twitter.  Sometimes, it seems like yesterday that I bummed a cigarette off him at the grease trucks at Rutgers.  But it was 18 friggin years ago.

We lost touch for a few years.  But it was only telling that when we did reconnect, it was at Rangers Opening Night in 2000.

We managed, since 2000, to go to a game or run into each at a game once a year.  Then after 2011, I sat in his seats, but didn’t see him.  We also never attended a playoff game together.

That changed Monday.

I get a message from him this morning: I have an extra ticket to the game tonight.

I was hesitant.  In fact, when he did his playoff “lottery” for his tickets (where those of us who buy tickets from him during the season get playoff “rights” in a sense), I was secretly glad that I missed the first round.

Not because I don’t appreciate the first round.  It’s just that I have a HELLACIOUS record against the Capitals.  Not just any games, but specifically playoff games.  I’ve been two Rangers playoff games in my lifetime prior to Monday night – both losses to the team from our nation’s capitol.

I was apprehensive.  I don’t consider myself the most superstitious person, but when it comes to playoff hockey, I’ll do what I have to do in order to ensure a win.  If that means I have to sit in the bathroom and follow the game on Twitter, I’ll do it.  And NotGlen and I usually have a ritual to meet at Cafe 31 before every game we attend together.  But even NotGlen wanted to change things up.

Anything, I suppose, to ensure a win.

He asked me to pick the meeting place.  Foley’s on 33rd St was my first guess.  After splitting some nachos and beers, we headed to the Garden.

Funny thing was, NotGlen started to number what he did differently that day.  Instead of Cafe 31, he went to Foley’s.  Instead of carrying his jersey with him, he had it on when we met.  He even admitted to taking a different set of stairs at the train station.  I don’t have a ritual for games.  I just go.

So off we went.

The playoffs are really a night for star sighting.  It was also high comedy from two friends who have known each other forever.

NotGlen and I met after I bummed a cigarette off him.  I was a teenager.  I’m a firm believer in the family we choose.  We’re children of the ’80s.  We’re like brother and sister.

We grew up with ’80s icons like Michael J Fox, John McEnroe and even Tom Hanks.  They were all in attendance at the game.  Matt Harvey from the Mets was born in 1989.  I guess that technically makes him a child of the ’80s.

I don’t remember a lot of the game.  That’s because it was mostly a blur.  I also probably screamed some obscenities, but I also hid for the last 1:40 or so of the game.

I guess the superstitions started in the ’80s, when I became a Rangers fan.  Back then I was only going to about one game a year.  I would do things on game days, wear certain shirts or clothes.  I would always be disappointed if the Rangers lost.

The stakes are higher.  They went into Monday’s game down 2-0 in the series.  They are now tied 2-2, winning two critical home games.  Both not without its hiccups.

Since I had attended two losses in the playoffs, I didn’t want to see what would happen if I went.  NotGlen, well, his superstitions certainly surpass mine.  And I guess he wanted to throw caution to the wind, getting some good karma in the Garden once again.

And I’m so glad I went.

 

Every now and then, say, what the fuck. What the fuck brings you freedom. Opportunity makes your future.

The Rangers need a little bit of “what the fuck” on their team right now. Maybe, just maybe, our familial tie got us to that point.

Here We Go Again

It’s hard to believe that we’re at the cusp of playoff time, as NotGlen Sather calls it, “The Second Season.”  Again. Heck, wasn’t it just like three days ago that the L.A. Kings were celebrating their Cup victory?  Okay, fine, it was almost 10 months ago, but still.  Is it me, or does time go by way too quickly?  Yes, I’m old.  Deal with it.

Yet this hockey season was curious.  The Flyers and Devils are out (and let me take this time to remind you that every single Devils fan I know gave us SHIT about the Rangers losing the first three of four games this shortened season…hope you’re all enjoying your tee times), and as death, taxes and the power play sucking, the Rangers are facing the Washington Capitals in the postseason.  (See my video from the first round last year below)

And I’m not sure how to feel about this.  It was tough for me to get excited about this season, be the prolonged start, and abbreviated season it was.  Talking to fellow Ranger fan, KB, the other day, she was kind of nonplussed about the team making the playoffs.  I can see that, but I can basically say one thing.  That once they start to win, or advance out of the first round, we’ll start to get the bug, the itch that it may OUR year.  Even if we have given SOME OTHER teams grief over winning “half a cup.”

(And yeah, if it comes to that this year, I’m not sure how to resolve my feelings either on that one.)

Of course, this means another sport will be neglected, and that will be baseball.  With good reason too.  To say the Mets have been lackluster is an understatement.  I keep telling my husband, “IT’S ONLY APRIL.”  Yet, by their effort this month, it’s evident that it will be a LONG ASS season.  Until, of course, Zack Wheeler is called up.  And who knows, his start has been below par too out in Vegas.

But it makes me happy that I can shy away from baseball, though it is my favorite sport, I don’t feel bad about not giving it as much attention as I do the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now, if you want a good laugh or be entertained while watching hockey, be sure to follow my sports tweets @Coopz22.  I have a heart attack with every pass, every shot on goal, every Henrik save or close call, and every goal scored by the Rangers is the BEST GOAL EVAR.   Or I threaten myself with bodily harm.  Just myself.  You don’t have to worry about yourselves.

It’s a do or die situation.  Whether we’ll be invincible or not, remains to be seen.

Trust me, I operate on a different plane during this time of the year.  Apologies in advance.

HNIC: Hockey (Date) Night In (New York) City

What a difference a week and change makes.

A little over a week ago, I remember people were calling for Glen Sather’s head, to void the “big trade” with Columbus Blue Jackets.  That Torts has lost control over the team.  That Henrik has lost an edge.  I had fans from other teams trolling me (and other Ranger fans).  And even tried to discount the win against the Leafs last week.  Which, I mean, a win is a win is a win, right?

Then there was the game against the Flyers in Philadelphia last week, which was a close, hard-fought and super-intense game in the last two minutes especially.  Like many teams down in the count in a very close game, the Rangers had an empty net to get an extra man on the ice.  The intensity was in ten cities, but they fell short of tying the game.

Not to worry, they made up for that last night in the Garden, winning 2-1 against Philly with another super-intense ending with crowding this time at the Rangers’ net and suspense to the last second.

And boy, was it fun.

About a year ago, I became twitter buddies with Miss J To The K.  She was a Jets and Rangers fans like me, but we differ on baseball teams.  That’s cool.  We got involved, inadvertently, in an Islanders argument, about the origins of “Potvin sucks.”  Then we realized we were on the same team.  It was all good.

Not Glen Sather sold me three tickets during this shortened season.  I asked J to come with.  She accepted.

So it was Date Night in the City.  A Hockey Date Night.  I was psyched.

It’s different going to an event like this with my husband.  He’s not as into hockey as I am (though he did admit to not being able to pay attention to much else while the game was transpiring).

It was my first game of the 2013 shortened season, also my first time at the Garden since the playoffs.  When I attended the playoffs in 2011, construction started, and it was unbearable walking around.  Like death heat due to the construction.  Then in 2012, I sat in the 400s and loved the Skybar.  I knew more renovations were upcoming.   Now the 200 level stretches up to basically where the 400s used to be.  The old “Blue Seats” are no more.  Though they haven’t been the “Blue Seats” truly in some time.  The Dancin’ Larry does his dances now in the aisle at Section 224ish, right by where Not Glen’s seats are.

The sections are steeper.  But I had a great experience with the seats.  Center ice, great view.  No complaints from this hockey chick.

Sec225

The food at MSG has changed, too, and not for the better I’m afraid.  Everything is now overpriced shee-shee food, and how can a Carnegie Deli stand NOT have their blintzes? (Maybe not the hockey friendliest food…but still…make Coopie happy).  And how do you upgrade food and not bring back easily the best thing sold at MSG…the delicious waffle fries???? Dang.  They were really really good.

I will miss them.  But I do love the new set up.

We sat in the middle of the 20th row.  J struck up a conversation with the women next to us…actually, a mother and daughter team.  Turns out, they knew their shit about hockey, the teenager even had a fantasy hockey team.  I’ve done fantasy baseball before, but I generally lose interest by the end of the season.  Fantasy hockey, though, is a whole ‘nother level.

Not much to tell.  We were still waiting to get to our seats when the first goal was scored by Michael Del Zotto.  We were in our seats for the second goal, and it was fabulous.  The Garden still can rock.

I also saw that the team seemed to play more together, if that makes sense.  Any rust they may have had prior to Tuesday’s game seems to be all but gone.  Henrik was back to being Henrik, but Ryan Callahan looks to be out 10-14 days due to a stupid and unfortunate shoulder injury.

What was fun though, was the bonding.  I have many friends who happen to be guys, and I can go to a game with them.  But I dunno, I think girls have more fun, and the fun is brought to an entirely new level when we go to games together, like when I go with KB or any of the others I have met via Facebook.

“I’m glad we did this,” said J.  “I know we’ve been buddies for awhile, but I really feel like we’re friends now.”

I often say that I hold my “real and in person” friends behavior to a higher standard on social media.  What I mean by that is I expect more from the people I had established relationships with prior to the whole social networking component.

Yet when J said she felt like we were “really” friends after we parted at the trains, I felt truly fortunate to have my life enriched by so many people via social networks.  I hold them in a different standard, perhaps for better or worse, but those who I have had the opportunity to meet in person I connect with on a different level.   And I understood what she meant.

It’s tough enough to be a hockey fan in this town, let alone a female hockey fan.  To find a kinship with not just one, but many is a real gift.  One that you cannot quantify.

It’s easy to get carried away with a win this early in the season, but the game had a playoff vibe to it for sure.  It’s easy to get verklempt too when you make a friend for life.

How great sports can be!

Make Love, Not War

Mets 50th Anniversary CollectionI have what we deem as a “Christmas birthday.”  While everyone on planet Earth (okay, maybe just **here**) is prepping for the holidays and transition into the New Year, a day celebrating me is thrown in the mix there.

Being a sports fan, it’s never been out of the realm of possibility to get a sports-related gift to celebrate.  This year, the big “get” was the Mets 50th Anniversary DVD collection, which was kind of a family gift (my husband has had his eye on this sucker for a WHILE now).

I was super excited to see that in the collection, one of my favorite Mets videos, An Amazin’ Era (a chronicle of the first 25 seasons of the Mets), was available on the DVD set.  Super excited probably doesn’t get it – super-duper is more like it.  Of course, the DVD was extended to include the 1986 championship and the NL East run in 1988…something that was a “To Be Continued…” part of the original VHS.  And yes, I still have that thing somewhere.

I often take for granted that the Mets won a championship in my lifetime.  Sometimes though I imagine what life might be like if I didn’t have that year.  If watching the 1969 highlights is all we’d have for going all the way…but so many close calls, like the 1973, 1988 and even the late 90s.

Mark Messier 1994Then the night my husband and I watched the video, he fell asleep, and I was there in insomnia land.  Not only did I get to relive the Mets championship years, I got to see a retrospective on the New York Rangers 1993-94 Stanley Cup run.

I guess I’m a little more than fortunate when it comes to my teams.  Some fan bases have never seen a championship in their lifetime.  I’ve seen one for each of my teams.

I said last year that the team closest to a championship would have been the Rangers.  It’s only cruel and unusual punishment that they have not been able to drop the puck this year.

The Mets seem to be making some moves to ensure that in the future, championships will be dancing in our heads.

I suppose it is only fitting that when I look at the last time the Mets had “relevance,” it was 2006…life would be so much different if they were able to make it the World Series, let alone win it.  Yet, 2006 was a long time ago.

The same could be said for my third team, the Jets.  Two years in a row, they did not make it to the playoffs despite high expectations.  The two years PRIOR to that though, they made it as far as they could go without going the furthest, if that makes sense.

I’m trying to take the football victories where I can.   I can be happy for my friends and family who root for different teams.  My husband is a big Seahawks fan.  We even went to see them play the Jets in Seattle in November.  He was in Hawks Heaven…I’m typically found in Jets hell.

Today, though, I heard that while Mike Tannenbaum was let go, Rex Ryan is staying on  I really don’t know how to feel about it.  I know the buck stops there, but ultimately, how many times can changing the coaching staff really help?

My thought was…I was brought back so many good memories of having my teams winning in my lifetime.  This is a gift I not only cherish but also do not take for granted.

Yet, I don’t have the warm fuzzies with the Jets, except maybe the time from 2009 and 2010.  Some other years there, but I guess deep down I knew it just wasn’t their year.  I had such high expectations only to be dashed at the last moment.  I would then have higher hopes for the future, only to get pooped on later.

My point is wondering why I stick around.  Sometimes, especially after seasons like this, make me wonder why I just don’t go root for another team.  I wonder if things will ever change.  I doubt they will.  Yet, I don’t want to be that fan who gave up when it was so close.

I could only imagine what it was like for people like my dad, who stuck around with the Rangers though they didn’t win till he was a long-time fan and was even lecturing me on the prospect of the Rangers not making it past game six in the 1994 Eastern Conference final versus the Devils.  It became evident, watching the highlights, that the blueshirts were “going for it all” that year.  They wouldn’t have had a better chance after that season.

The Mets started to fall apart after 1986.  I sometimes wonder why I stick around with such inept management and even more inept finances.  Then I think there’s no way they can be that bad forever, right?

But I have the championships from those teams.

Then there’s the Jets.  There are certainly bigger Gang Green fans than I am, but we explain it all away when love a team, we make excuses but the reality is…we all want the same thing.

To survive the war together.

So when people ask me why I am a sports fan, it’s the prospect of winning it all…that’s one thing.  It’s the surviving of it together.  It’s the experience of it together.

I named my first Mets blog “My Summer Family,” after a line in the movie Fever Pitch, which is what Jimmy Fallon’s character says about his Red Sox family.  He later said that he wanted to be involved with something bigger than himself.  It’s why I’ve stuck around with the Mets, the Rangers and the Jets.  To experience that feeling again.  I’ve been fortunate to experience it with two of my teams.

I guess I have to believe there is some payoff at the end.  That during the wars, and the battles, we stick around for the love of the team.

The love of the team though trumps most of the wars and battles forged though.  It’s part of our life, it’s part of our culture.

It’s part of who we are.

Autumn In New York

Like many business people in New York City, I work for myself and I’m able to make my own hours.  In that vain I’m able to attend to real life issues such as declaring whether the Whole Foods Market salad bar is better than Westside Market’s, or to make my Trader Joe’s shopping list (which being able to go in the afternoon rather than after traditional working hours is a godsend, since everyone and their uncle goes after work).

And like many people in New York, I’m often running errands boasting my team colors.  Today, I was bumming around in my New York Rangers shirsey, bearing the number and name of one Bradley Glenn Richards.

So it’s autumn in New York.  It’s not just a one sport town, but a multiple sport town.  There is not one but several phenomena occurring this time of year. Typically, you can count on Yankee fans getting ready for the postseason, and Mets fans get ready to root for whomever plays against them.

Football season is a few weeks old.  Jets fans typically change their mind on the team more than the weather.

Yet there’s a gaping hole this fall, and it’s not the fact that I left the Giants out of the equation (come on, no one fucking talks about them until the playoffs)…and that’s hockey.

I’m a Mets and Jets fan, yet when I wear their attire, not much gets said to me when I’m walking down the street (unless I’m with my husband, and we get the “Hey, going to the game today?” comments).  I would gather that Yankee and/or Giants fans might feel the same when they sport their team colors.

Today, as I’m walking in Trader Joe’s, not one, not two, but THREE people (each from different walks of life — one an employee, one guy who looked like he just came in from the gym and someone who was probably working in an office setting still in their business casual clothes) made a comment about the team.  Whether it was, “Man, what do you think about the lockout?”  Or “We got Nash, and now we’re not playing?”  Or “Brad Richards, huh?”  (I get that a lot, but sue me, I was excited to have him on the team last year).

Come to now with the threat of no hockey this seasons I would be willing to argue that the true heart of a New York sports fan lies in their hockey allegiance.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there are super passionate Yankees, Mets, Giants, Jets, hell even Knicks and Brooklyn Nets fans.  They certainly exist.  Hockey fans are from a different cloth.  There’s a deep rooted passion, and it’s almost as if being in a room with 18,000 like minded people, indoors mostly, makes it seem like we’ve survived a war.  Perhaps we’ve survived several different battles, each game a mini battle in and of itself.

The battles these days aren’t being drawn out in the ice, but rather in board rooms, with Gary Butthead, the owners and players.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s probably not the best sign that players are going back to their homeland (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic) to play in those leagues.  It dictates that they expect this to be drawn out for a long time.

Do I need to break out the world’s smallest violin, again, for the millionaires who are arguing over pennies while the diamonds are being passed over.  Diamonds in the form of long-term relationships with the fans who support and buy into the product.

What’s most nauseating being here in New York is that I know it’s not James Dolan’s fault.  He’s a money guy, sure, but he knows that the only way he’s gonna MAKE money is if his team gets out there and plays and his fans are happy.  Fans are not happy.

But what’s more.  I am a Mets, Jets and Rangers fans.  These three teams have brought me more sorrow than joy, but there are glimpses of hope as to why I stick around long term even though they are destined to break my heart more often than not.  Two years ago, and two years in a row, the Jets made the conference championships.  The Mets…well…let’s not go there.  But let’s just say that I do remember ’86 and think that sometimes those feelings are what keep me around.

The Rangers though.  For a fan with the teams I have, this is the closest I’ve had to a championship for a long time and a team I looked forward to the last few months to watch.  A team that could take me away from the drama of Rex Ryan land and the Wilpon Follies.  As someone else pointed out to me, we get Rick Nash, and pieces are falling into place, and now these people are just agreeing to disagree and getting absolutely nowhere.

Today would have marked the first preseason game for 2012-13 season.  Yet the only thing we are marking is time.

It’s autumn in New York.  And before we know it, it will be winter in New York.

As the seasons change, one constant may not be there.  And that’s not a pleasant thought.

New York Manscapers

Henrik Lundqvist didn’t just have me at “I am from Sveeden, ya?” but when he mentioned in Time Out New York this week that he wore suits four-five days a week.

*SWOON*

Much of it is an occupational thing — after all, he plays hockey that much per week, and wears suits as he travels with the team. Plus, I had the opportunity to get some photos of him at the Manhattan Center for a Rangers subscriber event and I think it was either Brandon Prust or Brian Boyle who said, “The invite said ‘business casual’ and Henrik looks like he’s going to the Prom!”

Sean Avery is clearly a goon on the ice, but he’s well-known in fashion circles, and even interned at Vogue for a time.  I’m one of the few Rangers fans who actually loves Avery.  I also like that he’s been outspoken against bullying and for marriage equality.  Sports guys are supposed to be seen as “tough guys,” and though there’s no question about Avery being one, I admire that he’s so passionate about these things, stuff no sports guys ever were to talk about.

Oh and Brad Richards, our new guy?  Made an appearance at Fashion Week

More eye candy for the ladies came in the form of Mark Sanchez’s spread in GQ.  Damn, he looks good in green, doesn’t he???  The cover story said “Thank God It’s Football Season.”  All I could think is…let’s thank her for Mark Sanchez!!

Make no mistake: I am a sports chick, and I love attending games and watching them on TV…Hell, my husband and I might get divorced this weekend because I am pulling rank to watch the Jets game over the Mets game (on at the same time, thanks for the TV geniuses who didn’t consult with MY schedule).

That doesn’t mean, I can’t appreciate a good looking man, especially one in uniform.