Remembering the New York Rangers’ 1994 Stanley Cup Victoryby Liz Pendergraft June 14, 2020 0 comments
A jab directed at the heart of New York Rangers fans was laid to rest in 1994 when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. It not only silenced opposing fans but brought joy to every Rangers fan, young and old.
It’s difficult to imagine 54 years of joy, happiness, heartache, and pain for any sports team, but history shows us that throughout the years, the Rangers came so close in the playoffs so many times, only to suffer defeat. Between 1940 and the 1993-94 season, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup just thrice, only to experience heart-wrenching defeat on all three occasions.
Don’t forget to include the 22 seasons they didn’t even make it into the playoffs.
Finally, fate smiled upon the Rangers as they began their push to win the Cup. But fate didn’t make it easy for them.
It all started when Rangers were awarded the Presidents’ Trophy at the end of the 84-game regular season for having the best record. Before getting to play Vancouver for the Cup in the finals, the Rangers had to go through three other teams. They began their run by sweeping the New York Islanders, 4-0, and then continued on by beating the Washington Capitals, 4-1.
Two of the most memorable playoff moments came from Games 6 and 7 against the New Jersey Devils.
The first was Mark Messier’s “guarantee” to win Game 6 on May 25, 1994. He was quoted saying, “That was the focus this morning and it’s the way we feel right now. We’ve done that all year, we’ve won all the games we’ve had to win. I know we’re going to go in and win Game 6 and bring it back here [to the Garden] for Game 7 … We have enough talent and experience to turn the tide. That’s exactly what we’re going to do in Game 6.”
Not only was he able to deliver, but in the game, he scored a hat trick to ensure the win and bring the fight for the cup back home to Madison Square Garden for Game 7.
The second memorable playoff moment came in Game 7 against the Devils. It took place in the second overtime when Stephane Matteau scored a wraparound goal, winning the game for the Rangers. No one will be able to forget Howie Rose’s call of “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” It’s so engrained in hockey history that even non-Ranger fans would be able to tell you when it happened.
Once the celebration of defeating the Devils was over, it came time to face the Vancouver Canucks.
The Canucks took Game 1 in overtime, but the Rangers were able to grab Games 2 and 3. Game 4 wasn’t looking too great for the Rangers, but Mike Richter’s save against Pavel Bure’s penalty shot in the second period helped to give the Rangers the momentum to finish out the game and get the win. However, New York gave up Games 5 and 6, which led to a showdown at Madison Square Garden for Game 7 on June 14, 1994.
Game 7 started with John Amirante singing national anthems of both countries represented. You could barely hear him sing “O Canada,” but when he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” he was completely inaudible.
The Rangers started off by leading 2-0 in the first period, with goals by Brian Leetch and Adam Graves. In the second period, Trevor Linden scored a short-handed goal for the Canucks to cut the lead by one, only to have the Rangers go back up by two on a goal by Mark Messier later in the period. Trevor Linden came through for the Canucks again by scoring in the third period to cut the Rangers lead to 3-2.
Despite Vancouver’s best efforts, the Rangers would keep them from scoring for the rest of the game. Since fate always likes to throw curveballs, before New York could collect the Stanley Cup, they were called for icing twice in the final 30 seconds of the game. With approximately 1.1 seconds left on the clock, the crowd could be heard yelling, “We want the Cup! We want the Cup!”
As the clock hit zero, you could hear the crowd shouting for joy and see Messier jumping on the ice.
When the Conn Smythe Trophy was given to Brian Leetch, it was more history in the making because it made him the first American player to have ever won the award.
Then came the moment all Rangers fans were waiting for.
Messier accepted the Stanley Cup, raised it over his head, and cemented the 1993-94 team as the heroes who defeated the ghosts of 1940.
It took the Rangers 23 hard-fought games to end one of the longest droughts in sports history and bring the Stanley Cup back home.
It has since lasted a lifetime.