The Rangers held a FanFest today for season ticket subscribers who paid via Amex. Originally scheduled for last weekend, the postponed event avoided ill weather and took place under shimmering Ranger-blue skies. I don't have the cable for my camera so pictures will have to wait until Monday.
Unfortunately, the postponement resulted in some changed plans and the event - at least my experience of it - suffered. The FanFest was supposed two shifts, 10-1 and 2-5, so I made arrangements to go to the 10-1 before beating a path back home so I could get to work on time. Because of previously scheduled events, fans were not allowed into the practice facility itself until after three. Considering the high sun, warm temperatures and the fact that there is a coolness factor to skating on the same ice as the stars, not getting inside at all was a major bummer.
And that wasn't the worse part. Press releases originally describing the event listed current Rangers - Ryan Callahan, Aaron Voros, Dan Girardi and coach John Tortorella - in addition to Ranger alumni. Because the event was rescheduled - and the press releases never revised - I arrived to find one "current" Ranger, Tyler Arnason. Arnason sat inside a tent and played video games against some kids before signing some autographs. If anyone else showed up after I left, for those that were there, please chime in in the comments.
As for alumni, it was the usual cast of characters, Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu and Adam Graves. In addition to signing autographs, they each took part in some of the fun (I saw Duguay playing ball hockey with some kids) and each had a fan forum with Sam Rosen.
Graves, in his usual smooth ambassador demeanor, helped raise the hopes for the coming season. He raved about the youth - saying Gilroy and MDZ are the favourites for the third defense pairing - and he said that the power play will be better. His best line was about my buddy Brashear: "He's a guy who you don't know what he's going to do ... respectfully."
I skipped Duguay's forum but caught most of Nicky's and he gave some interesting insight to the Rangers Stanley Cup loss in 1979, saying that the Blueshirts were intimidated by the Canadiens and "no one answered the bell." (He was not dressed for any of those games.)
The biggest revelation of the FanFest was the debut of Blueshirts United, something they are calling "The Official Fan Community of the New York Rangers." So official that it costs a minimum of $50 to join. Few details were released and the website officially launches September 12th. My guess is that it is like the 'membership' I had to buy so I could purchase tickets to Arsenal. My membership to the Gunners got me a book and a dvd and the opportunity to buy tickets to home and away matches. An extra fee, just to buy tickets? How did it take Dolan this long to think of it? I'll keep an eye on this BU bs as it comes to fruition ...
While my experience at the FanFest was ... lacking ... plenty of people were there and they had a good time, especially if they had young children with them. There was plenty for the tikes to do, from street and box hockey to arts and crafts to video games. For a shamelessly corporate event (brought to you by Coke Zero!), there was still fun to be had and perhaps next year some players can actually show up.