Amidst a day where New York Rangers fans around the world will be celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of the famous drought ending championship of 1994, I offer no joy to you today. I have already seen it on Facebook and around the Rangers blogosphere, but how can anyone really be happy about it?
Sure it was an incredible moment in the franchise’s history, perhaps the single greatest shining moment this team, and possibly even the city, had experienced. I am not trying to downplay the significance of the moment, but rather, the significance to the moment today.
The Rangers are the only team, who year after year, honor their cup winning team. MSG Network shoves it down viewers throats every chance they get, and there are constantly in-studio guests from the 1994 team, as if they are trying to jam it at us further.
The New York Rangers have not won another Stanley Cup since 1994. They have not really accomplished anything at all in these sixteen years, except for an exciting conference finals appearance in 1997. But since then, in those thirteen years since the last great moment this team has had, the Rangers have made the playoffs only four times.
These sixteen years have witnessed Neil Smith dismantle and destroy the team’s farm system in favor of trying to trade prospects for aging stars. When he was fired, the situation was further exacerbated when Glen Sather tried to correct the problem by dolling out big money contracts to even more aging, sub-par former stars.
The franchise has been a disgrace, and a model of incompetence since the Cup victory that was the most watched Stanley Cup Finals game ever played until that point. That game featured a hockey team, for the first time, that was on top of the world in sports. The lockout that followed halted the team’s momentum, and they never really recovered. Matters would only get worse, and the team is where they are right now– reeling.
So when you see people on your Facebook and Twitter post videos from 1994 and recount how exciting it was, just keep in mind the present. I am all about history; I am majoring in it in college, and hope to have a career involving it, but for the first time in these past sixteen years, the Rangers must finally move on from that history. They must put aside 1994 and look to the future, and that involves us fans too.
Every year I watch Game 7 of the Finals and get goosebumps, first during the National Anthem when sung by John Amirante, and then again at the end when Sam Rosen exclaimed, “This one will last a lifetime!” He may very well be right, because it just may be a lifetime before this team experiences the success they had sixteen years ago.
This year, however, will be a change of pace. The DVD player will be kept off, as will MSG Network, in case they show the game on Rangers Classics.
Sixteen years of anniversaries. Sixteen years of embarrassment. Sixteen years of incompetence. Sixteen years of New York Rangers hockey.