Saturday, September 12, 2009
An Open Letter To Those At Camp 2009-10
Hello, and welcome to the New York Rangers,
There are some things you need to know before you get the 2009-2010 NHL season started as a member of the Broadway Blueshirts. I will attempt to lay them out for you to make your transition to New York easier. If you keep these in mind, your stay will be an enjoyable and, hopefully, productive one. Best of luck.
1- First and foremost, being a Ranger requires respect. Respect for your teammates. Respect for the jersey. Respect for the fans. Respect the Rangers. Everything else on this list falls under this dictum. Respect. It sounds simple, but it's not. It's a complete way of being that will require hard work but the payoff is virtually limitless.
2 - Always, ALWAYS have your teammate's back. There is nothing worse than seeing a player get hit in a vulnerable position without retribution. That especially goes for your goaltender.
3 - I mentioned hard work. That is what is expected of you. Anything less - let up for just one moment of one shift - and the results would be disastrous. During that lapse a goal may be scored against the Rangers, or it may not. Either way, someone will notice. The Rangers are the most scrutinized NHL team not in Canada, both by the media and by the fans. You do not want to let up in this town. At the same time, even if things aren't going your way - go without scoring for games at a time, whatever - if you are visibly working hard you will given a pass. You may look around at the fans by the ice and see the nice clothes, the Blackberries and the models, but don't be fooled: this is a blue collar fanbase that expects and appreciates hard work.
4 - Meet the fans, greet the fans. They are your best asset on the ice, better than any newfangled composite stick or heated skateblade. You may have played in the Garden in the past, you may have not. But you have never felt anything like it when you have 18,200 people getting your back, helping you up, pushing you forward. At the same time, that 18,200 can be merciless. This goes back to No. 2, if you don't show maximum effort, you will face the ire of the fans and trust me, you won't enjoy it.
5 - Do anything but sit back and watch when the Islanders, Devils or Flyers are in town. Those are the times to be proactive. Very proactive. There is no faster way to the hearts of the fans than through the franchise's biggest rivals. In this day and age of free agency (which may have brought you here), rivalries are harder to cling to for players - you may have friends on the other team - but they are grossly important to the fans. Go out to dinner with them, go on vacation with them, whatever - from the second that puck drops, you had better be out for blood. Players come and go but that jersey that you pull on has been around for a long time and that means something. That Blueshirt comes with the baggage of hatred for wrongs past. It may sound petty, but it is a part of life. And, if you use it right - through the aforementioned hard work - then it is a very, very good thing.
6 - You know that quiet guy who is hanging around practice? The mild-mannered fellow with his name and number nine in the rafters. Listen to him. If he says something, it's for a reason. If he acts a certain way, it's for a reason. And that reason is always the betterment of the franchise and, honestly, the betterment of yourself. Pay attention to Adam Graves. You will not find a better role model in your search for what it means to be a Ranger. There is a reason why he is beloved in this city, and what he did on the ice is only part of the explanation. And that new guy in the office? Messier? Yeah, him too.
7 - Give not to temptation. New York never closes and there is fun to be had no matter what your vice may be. But if you give in to it, then you are breaking No. 1 on this list. There is a time and place for everything, and while you wear that jersey the time is not right for nefarious activities.
8 - Spend some time reading up on the past. The more you read about the 83 year history of the franchise, the more you will understand just how important No. 1 on this list is. A lot of people have put their blood, sweat and tears into building the Rangers and the least you can do is know who they were.
9 - Don't be afraid to speak your mind because honesty is indeed the best policy. Silly, right? Not at all. When speaking to the media or to the press, one of the worse things you can do is speak in benign cliches. There is no such thing as 110%. You can only take things one game, or one day, at a time. And you don't always get the bounces. We know that; tell us how, tell us why. You can't be afraid to show your personality, because that is who you are and we want to know you. We want to root for you. We want to see you succeed.
10 - Don't believe the hype. There are a lot of people playing pundit, a lot of people shooting their (our) mouths off. Expectations aren't as high as they have been in the past due to the roster shake up but this is still New York and success is always demanded. But that will come if you work hard, listen to the coaches and play your game to the best of your ability.
This list may seem daunting, but you will be pulling on a Blueshirt and these are the things that come with the jersey.
Let's Go Rangers.