New York Rangers: An Open Letter to No. 31, Antti Raanta
Antii Raatan goalie for the NY Rangers, photographed at a practice beofre playing the Vancouver Canucks on November 15, 2016 at the Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC Canada. (Photo by Maureen Cavanagh/The Players' Tribune)

An open letter to the (now) former backup goalie of the New York Rangers.

Dear Antti,

It was only two seasons and 53 games played for the New York Rangers, but, despite the short tenure, you embraced New York as your new home.

Thank you for all you’ve done on and off the ice. Your salute to the fireman and policemen of the city, your funny interviews, and your passion for wearing a Rangers sweater was apparent each and every time you stepped in the cage.

You were a perfect compliment to Henrik and you bailed the team out in times of need. But from all of us Ranger fans, we want to say thank you and best of luck.

Arizona is a wonderful opportunity for you to finally take a starting role, something you have earned over the last six years while going back and forth between the NHL and AHL.

If anyone took the time to read Antti’s Post in The Players’ Tribune, it shows the type of character that he has and talks about some of the values he holds. It really is a fantastic read, so, if you haven’t read it yet, take a look here. 

In your article you talk about how humbling of an experience your military time was. How much you hated and cherished your time there and how much it taught you.

It truly is something that most people should look into and learn how to appreciate things in life more — even quite simply being a part of a team.

Additionally, you talk about how you wanted to do something special for the servicemen and women of the great city of New York. Your tribute to them is really something that’s pretty neat, something you learned from your time in the service and something you wanted to pay back to the people of the city.

When we look back on your two seasons in a Blueshirt, it’s worth noting how sacrificial it can be to be a backup goalie.

It’s not easy; it’s a thankless job in my opinion.

One night you’re preparing for a night off and all of a sudden you’re getting called in.

Sure, there were probably some days where you were enjoying the last couple days of a break and all of sudden you got a text that Henrik wasn’t feeling well and you had to flip a switch and get into game mode.

I can’t imagine how crazy the schedule is of a backup goalie. But you handled it with class, you and Henrik seemingly had a great relationship, and you played some excellent hockey for the Rangers.

Some of those sacrifices may seem petty and small, but Ranger fans, please know, it’s not all peaches and cake for backups. All along you were able to balance a wife and a newborn in the middle of the season with your crazy schedule and, still, you were able to play some high quality hockey.

Best of luck in Arizona, Antti. We will truly be pulling for you to take the starting role and run with it.

It’s a brilliant opportunity and we know you won’t let it go to waste. You will be missed in New York.

P.S.: I hope Arizona fans get acquainted with Lucky Luke and Rantanplan!

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.