|The Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup win allowed Glenn Anderson to experience a ride down the "Canyon of Heroes" a select few have taken.|
Anderson was a member of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers. He and his teammates were greeted by an estimated 3 million people in lower Manhattan on a warm June day after winning the Cup that year.
"If you kind of combine it all (his six Cup celebrations, including five with the Edmonton Oilers), is the fact that after a period of time, it was something special every time," said Anderson. "It was like the Holy Grail everywhere you went, it was really important. Wherever that Cup went, it had a certain glow and a certain special interest to it.
"Every time you won, it was different. It was different circumstances, different teams, you know the chemistry was basically the same on all the teams. Each one was different in its own way and that is what makes it so special and so difficult to repeat."
While Edmonton was used to being Cup champions, Anderson's 1994 Rangers teammates were chasing the Cup knowing it had been 54 years since goaltender Davey Kerr led the Blueshirts to a Stanley Cup championship. The Rangers beat Vancouver in Game 7 of the 1994 Final on June 14. Three days later, they found themselves in cars in lower Manhattan surrounded by crowds in the streets celebrating their victory.
"That was special," said Anderson. "Everything slowed down for me. Everything went into slow motion at that point in time because it was so hot out and the ticker tape that was coming down out of the buildings was just floating like it was just on air and you felt that you were on air also as you were on the float going down the Canyon of Heroes, and I think that was the after fact. It actually sank in what it was all about to win on Broadway.
"Before I really didn't know the true meaning, but going down the Canyon of Heroes it really sunk in at that point and that was a few days after we won the Cup."
The parade was the first time the city threw a party for the Rangers. It seemed at one point New York just liked throwing ticker-tape parades. In 1926, there were seven. In 1949, there were eight celebrations, including one to mark Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack's 50th anniversary as that team's manager. There were nine in 1951 and nine in 1962, including two honoring the 1961 World Series champion New York Yankees. Three days later, a party for the expansion New York Mets was thrown.
But the frequency of parades came to a halt in the mid-1960s and there were only three in the 1970s. New Yorkers were no longer just throwing parades, and that made the Rangers celebration a rarity.
"You can describe it because it is so memorable. In my mind, I will never forget it because everything was so special, so unique to the detail, to the flowers on the float to the police escort that we got to the front of the line to get through the crowd and then going to Gracie Mansion (the mayor's residence) and Mayor (Rudy) Giuliani giving us the key to the city and having the reception at his manor at his house. It was so memorable."
The Canyon of Heroes parades have become mostly sports affairs now. There have been just six parades since the Rangers’ day in 1994, and four of them have involved the New York Yankees after winning the World Series. The last parade took place last February after the New York Giants won the Super Bowl. The only non-sports fete took place in November 1998 when New York threw a parade for John Glenn and the astronauts of Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-95.
Anderson and his Rangers teammates have a permanent honor. On the sidewalks along the Canyon of Heroes parade route (which extends from Bowling Green to City Hall Plaza), there are black granite strips embedded into the cement with a list of honorees of ticker-tape parades. The 1994 Rangers are listed, along with Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, who was honored three times – for flying over the North Pole in 1926, for flying across the Atlantic in 1927 and for exploring Antarctica in 1930. Also, there’s markers for Glenn, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, Van Cliburn (who won the 1958 International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union) and the Prince of Wales for a 1919 parade, the same Prince of Wales who in 1924 donated a trophy to the NHL to be presented to the League’s playoff winner. In 1994, Anderson and the Rangers won the Prince of Wales Trophy as Eastern Conference champions.