First off I would like to say that being 39 years old I grew in a era of sports where there were no cooperate logos on the ice and boards there were no 500.00 per seat tickets to games and a dad who worked only 1 full time job was able to take his kids to a Rangers game. I grew up in Lodi NJ and it wasn't really the hotbed of NHL action like a kid in Canada would have enjoyed. My dad is a bull of a man that was born in Paraguay South America the same place that produced NHL tough guy Willie Plett . My mother is a Italian born and raised in NJ. Both my parents enjoyed hockey and I was lucky enough that even at a very young age they allowed me to watch my idols the N.Y. Rangers whenever they were on WOR Ch. 9 here in NJ. The Rangers road games were carried on CH 9. and the home games were on cable TV which unfortunately we didn't have yet in Lodi. Mom and Dad loved the Rangers and of course I followed in their footsteps and quickly developed a love for the team and a passion that few understood for a game still growing in the United States. My dad worked in a factory when we were growing up and he would often not get home till around 6-6:30pm and we would have dinner and be ready for the drop of the puck whether it was on TV or on my tiny am radio we never ever missed the Rangers . The first game I can actually remember was a Rangers vs St. Louis Blues game that featured a huge brawl and man was I ever hooked on hockey and the seed was planted for the hobby I now obsess over . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYep2LVgpKs
Back in the mid to late 1970's sports fans were different from today. Back then the world wasn't as advanced as it is today there was no Internet or specialty sports radio. The fans read new papers to get info on the team and they obsessed over and they defended their teams with passion and love unlike today when most arenas are full with cooperate suits that are clueless as to what happening on the ice and spend more time at the bar asking for micro brews. The fact we didn't have cable didn't stop us from watching big Rangers home games. My favorite aunt and uncle lived in Fort Lee and they got cable in 1975 and in October when Eddie Giacomin was waived and returned to the Garden as a Red Wing my family gathered in the living room and lstened to the pre game show with Marv Albert but something was different the Garden was rocking and the chant of Eddie Eddie was coming through the Radio as if we were there. My mom was crying and dad looked sad. My aunt called and asked if we wanted to come over and watch the game. We packed into a dark blue stationwagon and my dad flew up rt 80 from Lodi to Fort Lee and just in time for the National Anthem . The crowd was booing the Rangers and Eddie was in net crying. The loyality displayed that night is what made me fall in love with the Rangers and made me look at the Garden like a sports paradise. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdU4AKGa7H4
Traveling to Fort Lee became a once or twice a week venture for my family and if my Aunt and Uncle weren't at home the Eldorado hotel in North Begren NJ had cable and we would get a room and then my dad would have to drive me to school the next moring extra early because we were 25 minutes away. In 1979 the Rangers made it to the finals and took on the powerhouse from Montreal and took game one and the city was hockey crazy and so was I my Rangers were going to win the cup!!! Well being 9 and having no clue how good the Canadians acutally were the Rangers lost the next 4 games and we didnt win the cup. My hero was Walter Tkaczuk
he was the coolest of the Rangers to me and there he was crying !! The Canadians made my hero cry and I never forgave them for that. I hate you Den Dryden !!
The 70 turned to the 1980's and after the miricle on ice the country had hockey fever and the Rangers had hired Herb Brooks and Craig Patrick the G.m. and coach of the Gold medal winning team and hockey was boming in the NY Area. The Rangers took the image of their coach who wantd quick puck movement and speed. The problem was the rest of th league was still very big and fighting and intimadation were still a very big part of the game. The Flyers and Islanders were 1970's expansion teams that were becoming a force in the NHL and both were very big and nasty and didn't miss a chance to push the smaller Rangers around. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WriB4Jo8aOI .
I was in my mid teens and playing a lot of street hockey and beating the crap out of any Islander fan that dared to play in the lodi boy's club floor hockey league. The name Dagoon came early when playing floor hockey and having watched the Rangers be bullied my friends and I swore we would never ever have that happen to us. We won 2 titles in 3 years and walking home from the club I saw the hockey news on sale at the local candy store and found there were others out there that loved hockey fights and guess what ? they were making money off it. The strangers out in Minnasota were charging $20.00 each for 2 hr vhs tapes of nothing but fights. Oh MY God I want out and got a weekend job and spent every dime I made on them tapes and the qulity hours I spent with my dad watching them no one will ever know how much that ment. The collection has now grown to over 600 dvds and another 300 VHS tapes. I spent a lot of time trying to time the fights and to this day I laugh at how long it took to figure out how to hook up two VCRS to make a tape. The NHL of the late 80's and ealry 90's was amazing the fighting and hitting was a at a all time peak and the games were 7-6 5-4 and everyone was exciting. There was no trap or left wing locks to say and the players were Canadian and some Americans. Not that forien players are bad but to me when the flood gates opened in 1990's to the Russians the NHL changed and not for the better. Teams cut down on bigger tougher guys and went to all speed and figure 8 skating wussies. The Nick Fotius were gone and the Boris Grabbyasses were in their place. The ice was covered in ads and the boards looked like a phone book exploded . The NHL is now run by a guy named Gary Bettmen and in a attempt to keep this g-rated I will just say I am not a fan . The NHL has lost all the passion under Gary . The league has expanded to cities like Florida and Columbus and let great hockey towns like Winnipeg and Quebec . The fans of today are cheated out of the hate we Rangers fans harbored towards the Flyers and Islanders. Hell the Freaking Rangers hird Brian Trottier to coach them !!! Today Sidney Crosby dives all over the ice that the great Battle Ship Kelly once skated on. Sidney is the hand choosen God that was picked to save the NHL by Bettmen himelf. The league wants to be G-rated and politicaly correct at all costs. Poker gets higher TV viewers now then the NHL. The hitting ,Fighting and hatred the fans shared is no longer allowed. The players change teams all the time now and with the ticket prices going sky high no one can afford to go to games the NHL is losing fans by the day. Did copperate greed ruin the NHL or did Gary Bettmen and his great stratagy like the Verus network kill hockey ? email me or post what you feel did it and I will Blog a few more lines after I read hows this goes.