Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Random Rangers: A MSG Moment

Last week Madison Square Garden's brass unveiled Garden 366, an interesting way to pay lip service to the great history that has taken place within the walls of the various buildings to wear the MSG monicker. The SNY guys published the various Ranger-related events that will be included on the new sixth floor wallpaper.

While that list does encapsulate some epic events in Blueshirt history, there are so many more. From time to time I hope to publish them here - whether they are firsthand accounts from fans and the famous or are accounts found in books and other materials.

We'll start with the latter, an excerpt from Scott Young's Hello Canada! The Life and Times of Foster Hewitt, which was published back in 1985. Foster, as you should know, was THE MAN when it came to broadcasting hockey. His radio calls helped entrench the sport in the very being of our northern neighbors and many of his idiosyncrasies have been passed down to broadcasters today: "he shoots ... he scores!"

Foster covered the Leafs and was there when the Buds came up against the Blueshirts in the 1932 Stanley Cup Final. I'll turn it over to Mr. Young, who turns it over to Foster himself:

"When the teams skated out in New York's Madison Square Garden on the night of 5 April 1932, more than sixteen thousand were in the rink, breaking the fire marshal's capacity limit. The New York crowd was always one of hockey's rowdiest, and that night they were definitely up for the game. Newspapers had been feeding the fans every extra bit of animosity that existed between the teams. A few years earlier (Lester) Patrick had decided that (Lorne) Chabot had lost his nerve after a bad eye injury. (Conn) Smythe had crowed ever since that he'd practically stolen Chabot in return for a goalie he didn't want, John Ross Roach, always soft-pedalling the fact that to make the deal he'd also had to give up Butch Keeling, who had become a mainstay of the Rangers.

Back in Toronto, Foster's dramatic account - still only on a local network - had the faithful on the edges of their chairs. Foster, later, eyes shining, smiling and sometimes laughing at some memory, often used the phraseology familiar to his broadcast listeners:
Never, before or since, have I seen such tenseness, or such a brilliantly played, wide-open game. The Cooks were tremendous. Lorne Chabot in the Toronto goal was magnificent. Red Horner was knocking them high, wide and handsome on defense. And every time the Kid Line went out there they seemed to be able to take charge.
Along in the second period, the Leafs were ahead 5-2 when Coach Dick Irvin put a rookie defenseman out on the ice for the first time. Bill Cook went around him like a rocket the first time he came down the ice, and scored. The crowd had been noisy before. But with that goal they let out a roar that never stopped until the end of the period. And they kept right on roaring right through the intermission! When the Rangers came out they'd been listening to that roar from the dressing room and it doubled and tripled and quadrupled when they hit the ice.
It set them on fire. They scored again and made it 5-4. But from then on, the couldn't beat Chabot. And near the end of the period Horner, of all people, broke away and scored the Leafs sixth goal to take the heat off. That game was almost the ultimate in hockey. I'll never forget it."
Ah, the power of loud and proud New Yorkers has virtually no bounds. While that particular moment did not have a happy ending, the Blueshirts were able to recover. They made the Cup final again the next year and avenged their loss with a victory over those same Leafs. It marked the second time Stanley came to the greatest city on Earth, the second of just four. But that is a story for another time.

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