One guy who made it! Mark Messier!
They had a love in at the Gardens Thursday night! The New York Rangers celebrated the many achievements of the leader who took them to the Promised Land. With a spectacle to rival a Broadway production, the Rangers and their fans paid homage to number 11. There were no dry eyes at Madison Square as Messier watched his legendary number 11 hoisted on a banner to the rafters of the fabled New York sports arena.
With his former team the Edmonton Oilers the opposition for the night watching the celebrations from their bench, the one hour and fifteen minute tribute remembered the great moments of Messiers tenure as the Rangers captain, motivator, team mate and legend. The Ranger greats of years gone by and his fellow travelers of the magical 1994 team were all there, standing together in honour of the Moose, a player who joins the legacy of
a Ruth and a Namath in a town that idolizes it’s heroes like no other.
The story of Messier on Broadway is the thing of NHL fable. He arrived from the western reaches of Alberta; the young gun with the five Stanley Cup championships on his resume would take the Rangers to that one elusive goal of dozens of teams from the past. He only won one Cup for the Rangers in his ten years as captain, but one was more than enough for the followers of the Broadway Blue shirts, a legion of fans that had been led to the door before, only to have it shut in their face.
The Cup run of 1994 solidified Messier’s place in the gallery of the sports Gods of New York. It became legend on a night in New Jersey; the brash captain declaring to the ever demanding New York media that he would guarantee his Rangers would not only defeat the Devils in a vital game six match, but take the series away from the cousins across the Hudson River.
In that memorable game six, Messier’s team seemed destined to fail their on ice general, unable to keep the pressure on the Devils and solve the riddle of an amazing Martin Brodeur, they trailed the Devils going into the third period. What followed in the following twenty minutes will be forever remembered by Rangers fans as a Messier miracle.
The Ranger captain single handedly took charge of the game; scoring three consecutive goals to knock the Devils on their heels and lift his team mates to the place he had promised all along, the Stanley Cup Finals.
With the Devils disposed of, the Rangers then turned their attention to the Vancouver Canucks who put up a valiant fight to the end, but in this Cinderella Man story, Messier’s team was the one to pick up Lord Stanley’s Cup in celebration and forever placing him and his team mates in the history books of city that never sleeps.
It’s said you need broad shoulders to play Broadway, none were broader than those that held the hopes of a hockey team, its home city and a sweater numbered 11.
(Photo is from the New York Daily News website)