It’s another world here
The streets are gleaming
I was even dreaming
That they’re paved with gold
Seventeen, at half past ten
All the crowds are surging past
An electric display
New York City has many colloquialisms. The Big Apple. Gotham. The City That Never Sleeps.
New York, New York.
If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Or something like that.
There is a lot of pressure to perform in New York City. There is a Canyon of Heroes that celebrates those who succeed. But there are far far too many who have not. Bodies have almost literally littered the roads leading out of the city, trying to get out of the pressure cooker.
Once you are here, though. You are never the same.
I first visited New York City as a 10 year old. My grandmother hated watching the New York based news where we lived in New Jersey, only because she always had some comment about how “dirty” it was there in that city. When I visited here though, I knew one day I’d live here.
I’ve fallen short in my years in the city. I’m not where I thought I would be, or even close to where I’d thought I needed to be. But it is okay. In my years as a Mets fan, I’ve watched many underdogs perform at a high level to surprise us all.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have witnessed some greatness, and I’ve seen legit stars. Major mega super duper stars. Some, I’ve narrowly missed ever watched play (damn, being born at the wrong time). All I have are stories, and shared memories. Grainy old videos. And sometimes my own waning memory.
Many of them transplants. They are not native New Yorkers. You see, there are those born here. Some stay, some go.
Those who strive to be the best, to reach the top of their proverbial game. They come here.
They become legends.
There’s another world here
Below shop windows
Upon the pavement
Where you wave goodbye
Boys and girls
Come too roost
From Northern parts
And Scottish towns
Will we catch your eye?
It’s been a rough week for New York Rangers fans. We lost two legends. One is moving to a new chapter in this life. The other is transitioning to be a star in the sky.
Last year, around this time, I had written about how Henrik Lundqvist was One In A Million. A once in a million player, once in a million competitor.
One in a million New York City transplant who became this city.
It’s not easy to do what Henrik did. Compete at a very high level each and every time he went in between the goal posts. Be acknowledged as the top of his position. Generate exciting playoff runs multiple years. Carry a team on his back when it seemed like nothing could go right.
Seeing him on the bench last year as the Rangers exciting season (cut short by COVID) was more than I could bear. I knew it was the last time we’d see him as a Ranger. What I didn’t know, is it was the last time we’d see him play at all.
Lundqvist had open heart surgery last year, and it was too risky for him to return.
Fans were cheated of doing a farewell tour. Henke was cheated out of retiring on his own terms.
All of us were cheated of seeing him win a championship. We won’t be cheated out of him being a Forever Ranger, however, the way it should have been all along.
Many New York sports legends have never won a championship. Some players, they get lucky. Right place, right time.
It’s not easy being a New York Ranger. You could have easily asked that of Rodrigue Gabriel Gilbert, who played at a high level his entire career, but also never won a championship or was celebrated in the Canyon of Heroes.
Well, I guess you could say that of a lot of Rangers, but I digress.
Without Rod Gilbert, you wouldn’t have a Henrik Lundqvist. I know, one was a goal scorer; the other one prevented them. But I mean, in the essence of being a New York Ranger. You have to have “it.” The desire to succeed is just one part of it; you have to perform.
I never had the honor of watching Gilbert play. I do know, he put on a performance every night, like they do on Broadway. A goal-a-game, that was what you could guarantee when Gilbert was on the ice. He just made the team better.
He didn’t call those of us who were fortunate enough to watch him “fans.” He called them “friends.” In a way, we are all connected. Friends have a connective fiber. The fiber here is the Garden, the biggest stage in the world. Whether a musician or entertainer or sports. You make it there, you literally can make it anywhere.
Rod Gilbert passed away at the age of 80 yesterday.
He was Mr. Ranger, the first player to have his number officially retired by the New York Rangers. Over 40 years after his retirement from the sport, his records with the team are still significant.
And I cannot be the only one who sees the irony that the very first number retired by the Rangers won’t be around for the most current one. After Henrik, who do you think gets that honor next? Is it someone on this team?
In the end, you pretend
‘Cause it’s so much easier
We’re the bums you step over
As you leave the Theatre
- Theatre, Pet Shop Boys
In a regular non-pandemic shortened season, a hockey team will play over 40 games on their home ice.
Is there an arena more significant in the NHL than Madison Square Garden? Maybe I’m a homer, but I don’t care.
Just mere blocks from the Theater District, the Broadway Blues play on a square block between 7th & 8th Avenues, stretching between 31st & 33rd Streets.
I’d challenge anyone to pit the raw emotion and performances on the ice in this circular arena above Pennsylvania Station every night the Rangers play to the singers and dancers and actors on Broadway.
The Rangers were lucky enough to have two of their best of their position ever wear their sweater. And they were proud to do it.
Many have failed. A Canadian dude and some Swedish kid came here and did it, and did it well.
And it gives me hope that my North Star is out there. Perhaps it will shine a bit brighter now that Rod Gilbert is no longer with us; and we’ll see it shine when Henrik is honored one last time at the Garden.
What I wouldn’t do to see him in the crease just one last time, though. Damn.