Sunday, March 2, 2014

We have seen the enemy and it is us

When I left New Jersey in 1970 I did so with the knowledge that the Boston Bruins were the Devil's spawn and that no human could hate a team with the venom I did them. See, when I was growing up as a Rangers' fan there were no New Jersey Devils, or Long Island Islanders or whatever the hell they are and the Flyers were just barely the Flyers, the Broad Street Bullies hadn't been invented yet.

My hockey world was pretty much the Rangers, four teams that had kicked our ass ever since I knew a puck from a ball, six new teams out in the hinterlands that were harmless and then there were the f'ing Boston Bruins. Johnny Bucyk, Wayne Cashman, Derek Sandrerson, Ken Hodge and most of all, worst of all, Phil Esposito*.

But when I moved to Houston for college  it was difficult to keep track of all that. The NHL was on TV one year and then not the next. My Hockey News subscription became too expensive to continue, hockey became the WHA Aeros and following the Rangers through the newspaper standings, which the local papers sometimes printed, if I was lucky.

Fast forward three decades. Somewhere along the way stuff happened, much of it weird:

Like this:

and this:

and this...

...which has led to this:

And maybe worst of all there was this:

And yes, I know that in '79 this happened to keep the Rangers-Bruins rivalry alive:

And I know that there is a general New York versus Boston flame that is fanned by the Yanks and Red Sox history, but I get back to the Garden to watch the Rangers after 35 years and to a lot of folks the Bruins are just another team. Oh, sure they are rivals and all, but nobody seems on the verge of scaling to glass (in either direction) and people behind me are talking about the f'ing Devils, etc, etc.

The world has changed. But that's o.k. It's still hockey. It's still fun, I actually own Phil Esposito cards, and a Bobby Orr card, too. It's all good. But somewhere in the back of my mind I long for Derek Sanderson bending over and firing the bird at the Garden crowd from between his legs. Those were the days!

What inspired this was listening to Esposito this week on Sirius Radio's hockey channel. Espo has an afternoon gig and he's pretty outspoken. He's been discussing the NHL's involvement in the Olympics. And by gawd he was saying the same things I say! He wants amateur teams in the Olympics. See, I'm NOT the only curmudgeon around! You go, Espo!!!

*=there was also Bobby Orr and we hated him too but even us wild eyed Ranger idiots knew he was the greatest hockey player we had ever seen but I doubt any of us would have admitted it.


  1. Those early 70's games between the Bruins and Rangers were unbelievable. I remember Sanderson getting into three fights in one game and getting ejected. Then Harry Sinden who was Bruins coach then going absolutely ballistic.

  2. ...And then the Bruins got the last laugh by convincing the Rangers to trade them Brad Park for Phil F---ing Esposito. I'm not even a Ranger fan, but just from having grown up in a Ranger household I'm still bitter about that deal.

    I did my best to ignore the Rangers in the early 70's, but in the second half of that decade I don't remember the Bruins being a particular rival... most of the venom I recall was aimed at the Flyers and the up-and-coming Islanders with their "Johnny come lately" fans.

    1. Yes later in the decade. It was Bruins - Canadians

  3. Had I still been up there when the Park (I loved Brad Park, loved him) for Espo trade went down I'm not sure I would have survived.

    I've working on a post about all that and the craziest night I've ever spent at a hockey game.

  4. I missed out on the Ranger/Bruins rivalry. I didn't become a hockey fan until 1980. I became a Islanders fan to spite my buddy's dad, who was a dad to me since I grew up without one. Kids always like to go against what the elders like. Plus, I tried it his way first and I never felt right cheering for the Rangers. Once I became an Islanders fan, there was no looking back. Bossy became my all time favorite player and I was set.

    Now, 34 years later, I still root for the Islanders and will watch a Devils game because Brodeur is one of my favorites. As bad as the Islanders have been, and Lord they have been bad, I am still loyal to my Isles.

    1. Interesting that you went against your friend's father's team like that. I did the same thing in baseball and football. My Dad was a Yankee and football Giants fan and I had to find my own teams. I remember specifically the Orioles and Colts since I knew that's where I had been born.

      But in hockey I suppose I didn't have much choice. He and I were Rangers fans and they were the one team that we always shared.

  5. Damn... looks like I was late to the party (became a fan in 1991 when the Sharks entered the league). That video was crazy.

    1. I only vaguely remember that whole thing going down when it did. But crazy is a good word for it. I don't think I have ever seen the video until I dug it up the other day.