Fall and Spring are my favorite seasons, but most of all I enjoy the Fall. I love it when the heat and humidity of Summer makes way for those crisp and clear mornings. The leaves change color, and start to drop to the ground, letting us know that Winter is not far behind. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but could be better than eating lots of food and watching football (and in recent years hockey) on the TV. But most of all…I love the start of the hockey season.
My first real experience with the Rangers and the NHL was only back in 1996. I had recently moved to New York, and a friend of mine (a rabid Rangers and hockey fan) convinced me to come along and watch a game at MSG. As it turned out Wayne Gretzky lead a late third period comeback by the Rangers and the rest was history…I was hooked.
Each year my interest in hockey and the Rangers gradually increased. I am a sports fan at heart, and have a trail of teams that I still follow from my birth country New Zealand (Go Magpies!) through Australia (Go Broncos!) and the various places I’ve lived in the United States (Go Bears!, Go Rangers!). Ultimately though, in the Rangers I found a far-flung group of passionate and loyal like-minded individuals.
Being a fan of the Rangers is like joining a club, or being part of a community. The simple act of donning the blue jersey, a Ranger cap or going to the game, automatically unites you with thousands of others who you’d barely acknowledge in any other situation. The unsolicited “RANGERS!” call from a stranger, the honking of horns as people drive by and the slight nod of the head in enemy territory prove that you are part of the club…you are a Ranger fan.
During my brief tenure as a Ranger fan I have experienced like many of you, what it’s truly like to be a fan. The past decade has been one of tremendous highs and lows, with an emphasis on the lows. We’ve seen more names on the backs of Ranger jerseys in the past ten years than probably any decade of Rangers hockey prior. Many of those names have been famous, even if their performances have not always been so.
Since moving out of New York City, my interest in following the team has continued to grow. It hasn’t been as easy to get to games at MSG as it once was, so I have instead turned my attention to attending games on the road and I’m proud to say that I’ve now seen the Rangers play in New Jersey, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Washington and Philadelphia…of and of course San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Outside the Garden has also grown in that time. Initially conceived out of the ashes of a former Rangers site that closed down, OTG has grown to be what it is today. Yes, I do spend way too much time here, but for me it is well worth it to share the in the passion for a team and sport that you all do too.
So as we head into a 2006-07 season filled with hope and expectation, I raise a toast to you my fellow Rangers fans, and to the 2006-07 New York Rangers!