Sunday, September 4, 2011

30 Fans in 30 Days: Eugene & the New York Rangers

As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.

Team 17 of 30: the New York Rangers

photo courtesy of Bridget Samuels/Flickr


Like the Chicago Blackhawks, the New York Rangers snuck into the playoffs based on the loss of another team - in the Rangers' case, it was the Carolina Hurricanes. They'd been plagued by inconsistencies and injuries throughout the 2010-11 season, so it would not have been surprising for them to have not made the playoffs.

During the playoffs, they couldn't make it past the Capitals in the first round.

In what was a shocking blow not only to the team but the league as a whole, Derek Boogaard was found dead in May, a victim to what was ruled an accidental overdose of alcohol combined with oxycodone, a painkiller. The beloved Boogaard was the first, but unfortunately not the last, NHL player to die this summer.

The Rangers currently have a lot of up-and-coming talent on the roster. However, the team made one big move this summer to strengthen a team that already has a lot to work with: managing to win the Brad Richards sweepstakes. The talented center will play on their top line. With the departure of Chris Drury, will he be their new team Captain, too? Probably not - Mark Staal or perhaps Ryan Callahan are the two likeliest candidates for the position; but with his experience, Richards could be in line to wear an "A".
New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Tim Erixon (CGY), Brad Richards (DAL), Mike Rupp (PIT)
Players who appeared in games for the team during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not re-signed/(team now signed with): Chris Drury, Alex Frolov, Matt Gilroy (TBL), Brian McCabe, Vinny Prospal (CBJ), Todd White

The Rangers haven't won a division title since 1994 - which is also the last time they won the Stanley Cup. Time will tell if beating out the Flames, Kings and Maple Leafs for Brad Richards' services will pay off. In the meantime, with the majority of the roster returning, and a little grace from the hockey gods to not suffer as many injuries as last season, the Rangers should be solidly in line for a playoff berth come April.

* * *
For the Rangers, we talked to Eugene, found on Twitter at @Doomsday822, who has been a fan of the Rangers for 25 years.

photo courtesy of Bridget Samuels/Flickr
 Let's talk a bit about your fandom.

Hockey is life, plain and simple. The emotion, it's just indescribable. I have loved hockey as long as I can remember. There's just something about it that is just so special. And my love for the Rangers came as soon as I discovered hockey, and they've been with me ever since.

The special memory has to be the obvious '94 ... but even last year was special, too. The Rangers became a true team, and a team with a huge heart that you know will give everything they've got every single night. Watching the Rangers beat the Devils at the Garden in the season finale, and then watching Tampa that night from the bar next door help us earn a playoff spot was another special moment in a lifetime of them.

Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?

That one's kinda obvious, ha ha -- Brad Richards, of course.

Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on? Who do you think will wear the "C" next?

This has been a very exciting off season for Ranger fans. Not only the big fish Brad Richards, but important re-signings such as Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan in particular avoiding arbitration; Mike Rupp coming in being a presence down low; and a ton of very good prospects coming up through the system including a trade for Tim Erixon from Calgary, there are many reasons for us Ranger fans to be excited.

The questions remain on how everything will gel, and if there are enough true goal scorers and skill guys, but if everything goes positively, I see no reason why this team can't contend right now.

Chris Drury, the captain, was bought out of his contract, and the consensus has been that Ryan Callahan was all set to be handed the "C". But now a lot of talk has surfaced that Brad Richards will be a favorite for team captain.

All in all, it has been a very productive off season, and I myself am truly excited for and looking forward to this season more than any other in recent memory, even though I'm awfully excited at the start of each season.

Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference?

3rd in the Eastern Conference

What was your favorite moment for your team last season?

There were a lot of special moments last season but if I had to pick one it would have to be needing a win in the finale to make the playoffs, after falling short the year before in Philly, and being there in person to witness the beating of the Devils that day was magical.


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