(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers and fans who hated them the most. Here is Michael Leboff, Rangers hater, Islanders writer at Lighthouse Hockey and the co-founder of FrancesaCon, fondly recalling the 2014-15 New York Rangers. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
Dear Steve Yzerman, Jon Cooper, Steven Stamkos, and the Tampa Bay Lightning,
Thank you so much for going into Rangerstown™ and beating the New York Rangers in front of a packed Madison Square Garden crowd that included Donald Trump, Phil Jackson, Roger Goodell, and this guy.
There isn’t a more unpleasant time to be in or around New York City than when the Rangers are making their annual postseason run and this year it was you, the young upstarts from the hockey hotbed of Tampa/St. Pete, that has freed us all from the torture.
The Rangers’ postseason run is a torturous process. The first round isn’t SO bad. You know they are going to win and it takes the city about a round and a half to realize that its hockey team is making a run. Once it does take notice, the Big Apple turns into a Big Rangers Hellscape brought to you by Chase.
This year was especially difficult. After the Islanders lost a soul-sucking series to Washington, Isles fans had to quickly turn around and root for the same team that just ate their beating heart in front of their faces. Even though our season was over, our job wasn’t done. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, so it goes.
Rooting against the Rangers is a process that sometimes will make you question if you’re a good person (if you hate the Rangers, chances are you are a fine human being). You have to prepare yourself for the difficult task of openly rooting against loved ones, wishing like hell that they will have to deal with the same empty feeling you said wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Except these are the Rangers, they are worse than your worst enemy. A lot of times you even have to watch the game with these loved ones, because chances are they aren’t going to turn over their life savings to get in the building.
During the regular season ordinary Ranger fans get to have their fun little nights at the Garden, but as the playoffs drag on they must give way to CEOs, celebrities, and other super rich camera-bait. Every break in the action that isn’t monopolized by Pierre McGuire telling you what type of shampoo Carl Hagelin uses is now just an opportunity to show you who Tom Hanks is sitting with or that Liev Schreiber is in the house.
As these deep-pocketed monsters make their way to the Garden, plebeian fans are pushed out of the World’s Most Famous Arena and into the open arms of dime-a-dozen bro-bars throughout Manhattan. It is as bad as it sounds.
Everybody you ever hated in college is at the bar and they are wearing their Ryan Callahan jerseys over their work clothes, “I know he's on the other team now, but I haven’t had time to get a new sweater yet. I’m probably going to get a Yandle one, I like that kid.” They hardly pay any mind to the first 40 minutes of the game (and don’t ask them about the regular season or the first round, they were busy). Once again the Rangers are in a tight one and Eddie Olcyzk has already said, “this game could be 4 or 5 to nothing if it wasn’t for Lundqvist,” four times.
Once the third period starts it’s all business, “Bro, I don’t even need to go to the gym during the playoffs. This is my cardio.” The Rangers end up winning thanks to Lundqvist and a late goal off of a shinpad and the bar probably plays the Rangers stupid goal song before all these young brofessionals get on the train home...
The Long Island Rail Road’s infamous drunk train is already a nightmare but if you’re unfortunate enough to be riding a late train with a gaggle of Ranger fans waxed up on $20 beers, words can’t express the horror but I’ll try my best to paint a picture. Here are some clips of what you’d hear on the train. It is like your hangover showed up 8 hours early and could talk.
This is the year Captain Cally takes us to the cup! He’s like Messier, the best captain in the whole league.
Dude I loved Cally but he wanted too much money and this St. Louis guy is the last piece of the puzzle!
April - June 2014:
Rick Nash is such a softie. Messier would have made him sit in the press box if this was ‘94!
Bro, I’ve been saying it since they drafted him, this Duclair kid is gonna be scoring goals for us for years!
I’ve always believed in Nash.
I wasn’t always too big on that Duclair guy and Yandle is definitely the last piece of the puzzle.
Admittedly it gets nerve-wrecking with each passing win. You knew they’d get through round 1, but watching them overcome another 3-1 deficit isn’t sitting right. You begin to wonder if this is the year you’ve been dreading. The Rangers are once again proving to be a tough out and Chris Kreider hasn’t even run a goalie yet.
Sleep doesn’t come easy. You begin to dream about the Rangers. A few nights before Game 7 I had a dream that Derek Stepan was elected President of the United States. You look up the number of some good therapists just in case they find a way past Tampa and into the Finals. You can’t think of anything else and you won’t wear any of your Islander apparel or even think about the offseason until this is over. Do you even like hockey anymore?
But then it all becomes worth it.
Because each year we get the unexplainable satisfaction of seeing Henrik Lundqvist, mask still on, hunch over as he slowly glides towards another sullen handshake line.
He’s one year closer to being on that “Best to Never Win” List you dream about him landing on.
You sit on your barstool and you gleam among gloom. Someone asks the bartender to change the channel so they don’t have to watch anymore.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.