Monday, June 2, 2014

New York Rangers Hockey House 6/1/14

This entry was supposed to be about some recent mail successes I've had, but alas, you never know what is going to happen. I was in New York City for the Celebrate Israel Parade, and a little detour occurred on the way back.

After the parade, I took a taxi back to Penn Station. With no timetable for when I needed to get on the train, I decided to look around the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden area. After looking around for about 30 seconds, I saw the Rangerstown Hockey House, a playoff fan-fest type area for New York Rangers fans to get hyped for their Stanley Cup Playoffs run. It was a Sunday afternoon, there was no Rangers game happening that day, but the fun was still happening.

As you probably know, I am not a New York Rangers fan by any stretch of the imagination. The name of my other website should give you enough of a hint about that. However, as a hockey fan, I felt like I should check out what was happening inside. The line to get in was about 20 people deep and moving slowly because everyone entering had to sign a waiver. It pretty much said that if you hurt yourself inside, whether it be shooting a puck, tripping, or whatever, you couldn't sue the Rangers. Also, people had to go through security with a guard patting people down and using a metal detector. After all of that, you were given a Rangerstown necklace and led inside.

Once inside, there were many options of what you could do. Walking around, I noticed an older gentleman in a Rangers shirt standing around and taking photos with people. After asking a few people near me, I discovered it was Ron Greschner, a defenseman who played his entire 16 year NHL career with the Rangers. Since I wasn't really prepared with anything for him to sign, I handed him the necklace that I was given on the way in, and he signed it for me. You can see it toward the bottom of this entry. He was walking toward the door to leave as he was signing for people.

After Greschner signed for me, I saw a line for a signing with a former Ranger had been roped off. I then walked over the rope, making me last in line for the signing. After convincing the security guard I was in line the whole time, she let me wait in line for Pete Stemkowski. After about 5 minutes of waiting, I approached Stemkowski. He was signing photos that were free and given to pretty much anybody. I asked if I could get two of the photos signed, and he didn't even think before signing two and handing them to me. I asked the person next to me in line if he could take a photo of Stemkowski and I, and he said he would. You can see that on the right as well as the photos below. He also signed the necklace that Greschner had just signed. I thanked him, then went on my way

Stemkowski left later on, and I went to explore the rest of the house. I walked around for about five minutes, then saw the Prince of Wales Trophy on a table. People were taking pictures with it. The Rangers had just won the trophy a few days earlier, and the fans were able to be a part of the celebration. Click HERE to see what the Rangers did when they received the trophy. That's right, none of them laid a finger on it, as Doc Emrick mentioned. After a surprisingly short wait in line, I handed my camera to the woman who was taking all the photos and stood next to the trophy. After taking one picture not touching the trophy, she was about to take another one. I figured I might as well touch the trophy and see if anyone notices for the second picture. Nobody cared, and I might have just jinxed the Stanley Cup Finals for the New York Rangers. Only time will prove the superstition right or wrong.

Walking around the house some more, I saw another former Ranger was sitting at the table Stemkowski was at minutes earlier. It turned out to be former All-Star, Brian Mullen, who played for both the Islanders and Rangers, among other teams, in his career. After another short wait in line, I approached him. He mentioned something about my New York Mets shirt, and I said that they have been stinking pretty badly lately. I was actually wearing the shirt I had caught at the game eight days prior. I asked for two photos again, and he personalized one for my friend who is a big Rangers fan. He added his signature to the necklace. I also took a picture with him. Then, I shook his hand, thanked him, and went to look around again.  Here is the photo he signed that I kept for myself, and the necklace that Greschner, Stemkowski, and Mullen signed. If you were wondering, the signed photos are about 6x9 inches, an unusual size, but a good one.

That was all I got on the necklace, but it wan't all I got on the day. While I was exploring the back of the hockey house, I saw a face that I actually recognized. MSG network's Ron Duguay, a former Ranger known for his awesome hair. He was doing a question and answer session when I first entered, and now he was sitting in the corner, eating lunch and getting ready to leave. When he emerged, he stopped to sign autographs for a couple other people. He signed an autograph card for me. After that, I took a picture with him, took a picture of him with other fans, and he left. I always keep an autograph card with me, and this is exactly why. I guess I could have gotten him to sign the necklace, but the card was more accessible. He's still got the hair.

I left soon after Duguay, as I had to get on the LIRR. I didn't plan on getting a single autograph, and I ended up having a fun time. Even though it's the Rangers, I respect them. The event was very well organized, and enjoyable for all, even an Islander fan like me.

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