Montreal Canadiens

I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing

Senior Pics 

Ask me why, I’ll say it’s most unusual
How can I even try to explain…
why today I feel like dancing
singing like lovers sing
when I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing?
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

To say the spring of 1994 was chaotic for me would be an understatement.

I was weeks away from graduating from high school, but I hadn’t yet decided on a college. (That came in the first week of June)

I was having a public humiliating breakdown with the guy who was my high school sweetheart, but that was neither here nor there.

My mother and I weren’t getting along, and to add on top of all that, I didn’t feel like I had anyone else in my corner but my dad and my cat.  Maybe a handful of friends.

At age 18, this was as close to the end of the world as possible.

But the Rangers for the first time in my tenure as a fan were in the Eastern Conference Final.  Their opponent was the hated Devils.  But it was the first time I ever felt the word loathe for any other team.

The Mets had won the World Series just eight years prior.  But I was 10 years old.  What did I know about “rivalry” or “hatred?”  I had no idea of a Boston/New York rivalry at that age, let alone had any real deep-seated geographical rival except for the fact that as a National League fan, I had to hate the Yankees.  It was in my blood.

So each game of that series, I’d meet my dad in Neptune (where he was living at the time), we’d take a ride over to Kelly’s Tavern (ye of the infamous reuben) and watch playoff hockey.
Ask me when
I’ll say it started when I met you
and ever since then I knew that the past couldn’t last
For right now I think I’m running
a race I know I’m gonna win
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing

Dad and I had a pretty decent run at Kelly’s.  We had caught a few games in the first two series, from what I can remember.  I mean, this is 20 years of faded memories, and my age is catching up to me in some respects.

But I do remember drowning myself in music, in my drive to Neptune each of those games.  On the way there, I listened to my newest find, Very, by the Pet Shop Boys.  They were simply not a one hit wonder for me.  One of the most underrated bands of its generation, in my opinion.  On the way home, win or lose, I’d listen to Erasure’s Greatest Hits (I believe the album was titled “Pop!”).

As I contemplated my next chapter in life, I really took in the music.  Very was lyrically intelligent and really hit close to home with so much of the messages of the song.  It started off with “Can You Forgive Her?” and ended with “Go West,” the cover of the Village People song.  Though the ride to Neptune usually brought me to either “Dreaming of the Queen” or  “Yesterday When I Was Mad,” the fifth or sixth song on the album.

If I wasn’t arguing or butting heads with my mother, my high school boyfriend and I were falling apart.  Music had always been an outlet.

And as I’ve said before, along with music, came sports.  But this was the first time I had a horse in the race, a first time in a long time.   From the dramatic entrance of song number one, to the moodiness of every other song to the anger and empowerment, it succinctly said EVERYTHING that I had been thinking, feeling or wanting to say myself.  About breaking free from the norm, and following my heart.  Something, by the way, that I am doing right now, and trying to come to grips with.  Adulthood may be overrated sometimes, but following your passion is always something that needs to be done.

If people say I’m crazy
I tell them that it’s true
Let them watch with amazement
say it won’t last beyond breakfast
it’s a phase he’s going through
denigrate or speculate
on what I’m going through
because it isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally do

To this day, I listen to Very, and it still gets me everytime.  It’s what I deem one of my “desert island albums.”  When my car was stolen in 2000, this was one of the CDs that was in there.  They could take the car; Very needed to be replaced.

It not only gets me…I get IT.  And when I listen to it, it brings me back to one of the most treasured times in my sports-loving life, and that’s when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994.  The album empowered me to drive up to a school and make a decision on the spot.  It made me make amends with my mother.  It made me move on from my high school boyfriend.  And it made me a hockey fan.  I have given up on the sport in the past.  But I’ve been back long enough to say this is special, and as a fan, I’ve earned that shit.

Ask me what
I’ll say I think it’s good for you
Believe it or not I know where it’s all leading to
I feel like taking all my clothes off
dancing to The Rite of Spring
and I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing
I wouldn’t normally do this kind of
this kind of thing

In recent years, before each game when the Rangers are in the postseason, I try to get in at least one song from this album.  It’s just one of those things I never get sick of hearing.  If I’m lucky, I will try to listen to the first five or six songs, like I used to when I’d go watch the games with Dad.

The 1993-94 Rangers are not just special in my heart because they won a championship.  It was because, as corny as it sounds, it gave me strength to move forward with my life.  That my world wasn’t crashing down around me…that things could and would be all right.  That like a caterpillar, I’d be a butterfly, floating off to my next chapter.

The spring of 1994 launched into what became the summer of my life.  The New York Rangers were a big part of that.  I did things that I normally wouldn’t do.  Like travel into the city with my friends to go dancing.  Like travel into the city to watch the Rangers on television close to the Garden, so we could be there for the celebration.

It’s very rare that I talk about alternatively being grateful or being pissed off at being a sports fan.  But last night’s win and subsequent playoff series victory made me so grateful for the Rangers. For my dad.  And for that spring of ’94.

This one is for Henrik and for McD.  For DStep and for Staal.  For Martin St. Louis.  For Grumpy Damus. For Chuck.  For NotGlen.  For Aimee.  For Katie.  For Anne Marie.  For Alvin and Kelly.  For Justine.  For DMan.  For Ciel Seidel.  And for everyone else in between (including my cousin, who came in later in life to love the Rangers).

And for especially the Pet Shop Boys, though I’m sure a British electronica band really would never see why they’d be forever linked with a U.S. hockey team.  They helped me get through a rough patch in my life, and so did the Rangers.  And they still do to this day.

Sam Rosen said in 1994, this one will last a lifetime.  I hope that he is wrong, that 1994 was it.  Thank goodness that I am getting to see another “very” amazing postseason run.

This is something we normally wouldn’t see.

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Not To Worry

I say, I got nothing to worry about…

Because the Rangers play Thursday.  And they will win on Thursday.

They will win because I’ve felt in my bones all along this would go to six games.

I’ve felt all along that they will win.

It’s game like last night they need to have that proverbial glitch in the matrix.  It’s something that’s off but it will rectify itself.

In 1994, I had one guy telling me, “No doubts, no doubts” in game 5 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

In 1994, I had a guy telling me during Game 6 of 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, “Not.  To. WORRY!”

The Rangers lost both those games.  But they won the games that mattered, of course, and went on to win the Cup.

But just because there was a fucked up game in Montreal last night doesn’t mean that there is a momentum “shift” or any of that crap.

Let’s talk about Momentum Shifts with this video.

Yes, I know I’m looking at shit that happened 20 years ago. But like that year, we cannot deny that this is a special time to be a Ranger fan. It’s a special time for the Rangers. This is a special team.

They’ll have motivation in the form of Henrik Lundqvist, who was pulled just before a game-tying rally, only to have his replacement give up three more goals in a blow out.  But when Rene Bourque says that Lundqvist hasn’t been “much better” than Dustin Tokarski…well, to say that shots have been fired would be an understatement.  This has been a dirty series, a hard fought series.

I just can’t help but think…

The Rangers play Thursday.

They’ll win Thursday.

Finish the damn thing.

Go Rainjuzz.

 

Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’

There’s an old saying…probably from French Canada or aboots…that goes along the lines of, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”

Such is the case for Saturday’s “Original Six” matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers.  These games are always intense.  I have to say the fans are second to none, really.  Well, most of them anyway (I’ll get to that in a second).  A good Original Six matchup is always appreciated by both fan bases (I’m hoping to get to Boston this year for a Bruins/Rangers game at the I’m-Calling-It-Boston Garden), and it’s evident by the amount of French-speaking folk in attendance that they are just as passionate about their team as we are here in this region.  The probably 2% of the fans who showed up from Quebec who weren’t cool didn’t “get” that they needed to take their caps off during OUR National Anthem too (and one of the few times I get to hear “O Canada” at a sporting event) were part of the not-second-to-none part of their fanbase.

I hadn’t been to a Saturday night hockey game in a long time…or a hockey game at all, period, since the playoffs in the first round last year.  And even so, I did attend the last regular season Saturday afternoon game with my friend @sfmerkakis.  By the way, he won’t know what you’re talking about if you ask him if he’s @NotGlenSather.  Moving right along, Saturday night games are interesting. You don’t have to worry about going to work the next day (or in my case, at all), and the night is still pretty early once the game is done.

Two of my world’s collided this night.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I attended the game with @Stefmara, and I love attending hockey games with people who are just as passionate about the team as I am.  When I go to games with my husband, as an example, he’s not as into hockey as I am, and I usually have to bribe him in order to attend.  No bribes in this case, just beer for us chicks.

When I last left the Garden earlier this year, there was construction going on.  I was annoyed because there was little ventilation in the concourses, making for a very hot arena and uncomfortable situation.  I didn’t know how they were planning to do the renovations, and they are still taking place.  But I can tell you this: the Garden will be AMAZING once it’s completed.

The concourses, though many of the stands were not operational yet, are less restrictive as they’ve seemed in the past.  The choices seem phenomenal: sushi, pizza, of course the standard chicken fingers and hot dogs.  They have a 16 Handles stand (if you do not know what that is, it’s a frozen yogurt place that is the shizzle…).  In the 400s, they’ve made these seats less working-class and gave us bars with a great view of the entire arena (even the ceiling).

The fact that most of the stands were not operational, though, left us with a not-so-pleasant experience of the evening.  There was not a lot of information telling us what was available and where to go.  I understand that this is still a work-in-progress, but this is a Saturday night, in New York City, with many visitors in from out of town.  More information is better, please.  (We couldn’t even really get beer, that’s how bad it was).

Back to the game.  I was talking about the naming of Ryan Callahan as captain of the team early in the evening.

Stef and I were both in agreement that it was a tenure thing, not that it wasn’t well-deserved however.  Also, that Chris Drury was not going to be on the team anymore, it just had to be Cally.  I wondered, to myself though, if he would be just a Brian Leetch-type: the guy who was a lead-by-example kind of guy, but not a vocal or take-charge kind of leader on the ice…something the team desperately needed.  (Don’t get me wrong: I love Brian Leetch…just always questioned his leadership abilities).

Any questions I had about Callahan were solved less than 10 minutes into the game by standing up for his teammate and having the first brawl of the season.  YEE HA!  That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.  It’s bad enough that Henrik Lundqvist is the guy who has to save this team’s collective ass most nights.  Now Cally is showing once again what’s he made of, and that no one on his team won’t have someone going to bat for him.  Exactly what we need in a captain.

It was also the much-heralded return of one Sean Avery.  I make no bones about it: I like Avery.  Do I think he’s the team’s solution to all their issues? Noooooo.  But I always like him on our side.  I really would like to see Marc Staal return, but I know from my experience with head injuries on my baseball team that I’d rather he take his time getting well…but I still miss him.

I get a little concerned these days, about the team. Seems like no matter who they get (like Brad Richards, who scored a goal when we were there), there is always some kind of hole to fill.  You all know how much I love Henrik Lundqvist, yet he can’t do it all on his own (and of course, there’s the whole complacency thing I see when the team scores a lot of goals to back him up).  This game had it all and makes me truly believe they are the real-deal-holy-feel this year.  There was a fight, a lot of them actually, great goals scored by guys you expect, and even an empty-netter at the end.

I love Saturday night games, and this one tied many things in my life together being a sports nut.  Good friends, good conversation, good heckling of the other team’s fans, and a Rangers win.  What more could I ask for?