Fans of the New York Rangers better ready themselves with a good bottle of scotch to help deal with the ups and downs.
The New York Rangers have the greatest fans in all of the major sports. They celebrate the exhilarating wins despise the crippling defeats. Despite such a cruel idea, that’s actually the easy part.
The toughest part of this hockey game is emotions. Fans have a vested interest in the players. It’s more than winning and losing; it’s family-like. A family that not only goes crazy via the highs, but also speaking loudly during the lows.
Ranger fans Bleed Blue
Rangers fans truly Bleed Blue. Just look at what fans have had to endure over the last 12 months. Last season as the trade deadline approached, fans had to accept the rebuilding process the organization promised to bring to New York.
A plan that would involve breaking up the heart of the team. The process of breaking the club down to build it back up would be the new directive in New York.
This team is not used to “selling mode” when February comes around. Fans expect this club to be in the playoff hunt while looking for the few missing pieces that could lead the Rangers to the promise land, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Instead, the Rangers have been the sellers, trading great pieces to other teams puzzles as Jeff Gorton has picked up draft picks to help the team get better in the future.
The problem with being sellers in February is that fans have to sit by and watch the players they have grown attached to get traded away for opportunities to win what the fans haven’t seen since the great season of 1994.
Over the last year, the Rangers have said goodbye to Michael Grabner, Rick Nash, Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Adam McQuaid just to name a few. It’s hard to root for a team that continues to concede the season in February and jockey the rest of the way as a tryout for next year.
The fans resiliency is tested again.
Here is another crazy emotional roller coaster ride for fans: there are only four players remaining from the team that advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2014. Those players are Marc Staal, Henrik Lundqvist, Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast. In just under five years, the team has almost turned over the entire roster from that year.
I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them pic.twitter.com/FCnRESPp5r
— kt (@_tokarski) February 25, 2019
The business side of hockey can hurt
No other trade dug as deep as the one that involved Mats Zuccarello last Saturday night.
Zucc was traded to the Dallas Stars which was no surprise. The torturous part was the waiting game both player and fans had to go through. Just because you anticipate a player being moved, doesn’t make it any easier when it happens.
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As the heart and soul of the New York Rangers, Zuccarello didn’t want to leave any more then fans wanted to see him go. He was having a great season after a slow start, playing a rugged, feisty game as he mounted up the points on a line with Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.
The trade was a result of contact status and money. For the fans, that was the worse reason to trade the hobbit. A fan favorite was an understatement when describing how much Rangerstown loved their hobbit. Seeing him skate in red, white and blue was what fans cared about.
To see Zuccarello skate in a green and white Dallas Stars jersey on Sunday was a knife in the back to fans. Yet that’s the life of a hockey player and the fans who follow this club.
To add to the depression of the Ranger fan, Jeff Gorton then traded Kevin Hayes on Monday to the Winnipeg Jets. Another day of anger along with some grief transpired as we watched another player leave town.
Over the years as in any sports, Ranger fans have been forced to learn the hardest lesson. They come and they go (a line from the movie The Natural) ever so true in the world of the New York Rangers.
This has happened before in the history of the hockey club. Remember a certain goalie by the name of Eddie Giacomin and an American born defenseman named Brian Leetch? Each represented killer, devastating trades making fans irate while simultaneously swearing away Rangers allegiance.
Fans are loyal, dedicated and though will miss their favorite players, always come back. Why you may ask?
I have to go back to a Rangers coach named Herb Brooks who said it best, “the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.”
The heartache is strong and painful now. There is a lot of anger and confusion among the fans.
Jeff Gorton has received some valuable draft picks as he traded our favorite players. Fans will wish Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes well, then they will find a way to root on the Rangers as they always do.
The organization has a lot of work ahead deciding how best to draft the players Jeff Gorton and his staff want to select. The team is moving in the right direction despite what is said on social media. Fans speaking from their heart and not the reality of how good things may be as early as next season.
Time heals all trades, so does scoring goals and winning. So let’s sit back and root on our boys on Broadway. The worse is over, well until the playoffs conclude. Then, fans can wonder what will happen with the next unrestricted free agent on the team, Chris Kreider.
A game of emotions every night on the ice and in the heart of every New York Rangers fan.