Young Offender

You may be broke now and you may be bored
Call you delinquent or leave you ignored
You’ll get what you want
Drive to distraction and crash on the way
Watch your reaction and wait ’til you say
You’ll get what you want
It hurts if you can’t

Pet Shop Boys “Very” is one of those albums that has stuck with me, and what I’d deem a “desert island album.”

I think one of the major reasons it’s this way is because of how it was new and something I listened to nearly daily when I was 18 years old. I was graduating high school, and the Rangers were on their way to winning their first championship in 54 friggin years.

I was a young suburban girl who lived a pretty sheltered life. The city was probably my biggest indulgence back then. I went in for sporting events, an occasional day trip or theater thing. I was also on my way to start college in a few months.

So when I listen to it now, it brings me back to a different time and age of “innocence,” as hokey as that may sound now. In addition, I was going through some personal tumult, and it also has me reflect on how far I’d had to go and had come when I listen to it to this day.

It doesn’t hurt when the Rangers do well, either. Listening to Very has become part of my “Rangers playoff juju.” It takes all the credit when they do well, none of the blame if they don’t.

I’ll do what you want if you want me enough
I’ll put down my book and start falling in love
Or isn’t that done?
How graceful your movements, how bitter your scorn
I’ve been a teenager since before you were born
And I’m younger than some
I’ve only begun

I’m much older than the average age of the 2021-22 New York Rangers. The beginning of the season, the team had an average age of 25.8 years. It may be slightly higher now due to some late season trades and moves. It matters little though. Someone on the team born 27 years ago wasn’t around for the Ranger’s last championship. They’re younger than 1994.

Several players were born in this century, even. Others were in diapers when the Rangers last won a Cup. I was still in high school. I am now an old lady.

Only their coach might remember their last run.

The 1993-94 New York Rangers was a special team. Several future hall of famers. The Captain of all Captains. One of the greatest American-born defensemen and an apple pie goaltender from Pennsylvania helped lead the team to the promised land.

Is that fire in your eyes or the glow of machines?
Watch how your fingers burn over the keys
So sure what you do
I haven’t a clue

This 2021-22 was a special team to watch. Christopher James Kreider scored 50 goals. Mika Zibanejad and Kreider had a legendary bromance that played off each other on the ice. Artemi Panarin, while cautious during the postseason (I’m sure we’ll find out he was playing hurt), really showed why he is a top sniper in the league. Ryan Reaves beat the shit out of his opponents, and he did it with a smile.

Adam Fox might easily be my new favorite Ranger. K’Andre Miller is the future of hockey. Alongside Igor “Don’t Call Me EyeGor” Shesterkin, who had a legendary season to the extent that Henrik Lundqvist and Steve Valiquette are both in awe.

My dad told me about listening to the prelimary playoff round against the Isles on the radio in 1975, and his words, that the ending “really sucked.” He did go onto say that those upstart Isles “had a good run” that year. While the team itself was a baby, the team makeup was also very young.

I often wonder if dynasties can exist anymore. If it’s possible to win multiple championships like the Isles or 1980s Oilers. The Penguins have stitched together a few runs in the last 30 or so years. Tampa Bay has won two Cups in a row and are on their way to play for a three-peat. We could attribute that to being weird seasons due to the pandemic, or maybe they are just “that” good.

I can’t help but wonder though, if this Rangers core is the real thing. That those years of “rebuilding” (and let’s be fair: there have been several attempts…they just never called it that so that the fan base wouldn’t get mad) might be turning out, that it would all be somehow worth the wait.

Young offender
What’s your defence?
You’re younger than me, obviously
Young offender, how you resent
The lovers you need
It hurts when they bleed
Young offender
Why the pretence?
You don’t agree, I know, I know
Young offender, why the pretense?
You don’t agree, I know, I know –
Pet Shop Boys, “Young Offender”

These young guys, these kids…Kaapo Kakko. Alexis Lafreniere. Filip Chytil. Fox. Miller. They give zero fucks. They are unencumbered by the past and unfettered by the history of this team. I’m sure they are quite aware of the shortcomings in the past. But they are not going to be complacent and to just show up. They are not willing to sit and smile, and get the pats on the head for a “good job.”

No. They don’t care. And by not caring, I mean they do care. They have the desire to win. It’s like the 1986 Mets or the 1994 Rangers. Even when they seemed down, they didn’t seem completely out. Unfortunately, that mojo ran out last night, and their inexperience caught up to them, as one last backs-to-the-walls comeback wasn’t in them.

But that’s okay. In his sophomore year, current Denver Bronco quarterback Russell Wilson once asked, “Why Not Us?” And I have to ask, yes, why NOT us? Can this team be for real?

This team has enough time left to have good playoff runs each year. We do have the luxury of time here. Let the young offenders become young defenders of championships each year.

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