"I came here wanting to win the Stanley Cup and what I got was a life experience. I learned more about life coming here and seeing there were more important things than just playing hockey. That was sharing in the compassion and the overall care and sincerity of the people of New York. That changed not only my life, but the life of my whole family."—Mark Messier
As we prepare to drop the puck this evening on another Rangers, Devils playoff series, my mind races back to the spring of 1994. Newly married and living in Hoboken, Kathy, and I had a prime location to get in and out of the city to watch a few stretch run games, including the Conference Semi Final clincher against the Capitals. It was a sight to behold and was capped off in a jubilant Play by Play celebration with the likes of Ranger legend Nick Fotiu, 5-time Stanley Cup winner, Esa Tikkanen and Brian Noonan. The place was electric, and the momentum was beginning to build toward what would prove to be an epic Conference Final vs. the Devils. The highly publicized game six guarantee by Messier cemented by his third period hat trick was a moment that will live on in hockey lore for eternity. Rangers coach Mike Keenan said of the guarantee, "Mark was sending a message to his teammates that he believed together we could win. He put on an amazing performance to make sure it happened.”
Two days later we gathered with our friends at the iconic Pete’s Tavern and the improbable happened. Somehow the game 7 contest out did its predecessor. In an amazing goaltending battle Mike Richter outmatched Martin Brodeur for over 59 minutes only to have the Devils tie the game with 7.7 seconds to go and send the contest to overtime. Well, one overtime was not enough to settle this game. It was at 4:24 of the second overtime that Stephane Matteau, (photographed with my son, Conor), the late season acquisition along with the aforementioned Brian Noonan scored on a wrap around shot that sealed the game, the series and the Ranger’s position in the Stanley Cup Finals! Howie Rose’s iconic , “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call will forever ring in the hearts and minds of Ranger fans and probably in those of a few bitter Devil fans as well.
You see, Messier was so much more than just a hockey player. He was a leader with a plan and the will to lift all our games to another level. The man took his goals and objectives and forged a path forward. He secured a life experience with his coach, his teammates, and the city at large. He took the collective desire and made it a reality. Nothing about Mark Messier’s plan in 1994 happened by chance. It was carefully planned, crafted, and executed. Whether seeking to win a Stanley Cup or to bullet proof your balance sheet and your family’s financial future, sincerity and care are key ingredients for success. Thank you, Mark, for teaching us all to dream big and change our lives for the better! #NYR
Written by: Rob Armstrong