As a teen, Nick Ghanbarian found himself drawn to a growing punk rock music scene. Green Day was his gateway to punk, which led him to discover bands like the Bouncing Souls and Bad Religion. Ghanbarian appreciated their do-it-yourself attitude and their devotion to the nitty-gritty work required to be a touring band. So, it's no surprise that now, working as a full-time touring musician, what Nick Ghanbarian likes most about hockey is the strong work ethic put forth by the grittier players in the game.
Ghanbarian plays bass in the rock group Bayside -- whose new record, "Killing Time," recently debuted at No. 35 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts. It's the band's first release on Wind-up Records, whose roster includes other rock acts such as Creed and Hawthorne Heights. Prior to this, Bayside was signed to Chicago-based independent label, Victory Records, a one-time home to hardcore punk bands like the Bad Brains.
A Long Island native, Ghanbarian's hockey obsession began in 1992 -- the year that Wayne and Garth first hit the big screen in Wayne's World. After watching the film, Ghanbarian made his way to the local Modell's where he picked up the same Blackhawks jersey the two slackers donned in the movie. But when his uncle saw the 'Hawks jersey, he insisted that Ghanbarian switch allegiances to the New York Rangers.
A budding Blueshirt fan was born that day.
Now, 19 years later, Ghanbarian's Ranger pride is stronger than ever. He even sports a Rangers-inspired tattoo, mixing his love of the punk rock lifestyle with his fandom.
"My goal is to be the Dropkick Murphys of New York," Ghanbarian says.
The Dropkick Murphys, another punk band, are synonymous with the Boston Bruins; its hit "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" is a staple of the TD Garden playlist. The Murphys also had the honor of performing live at Fenway for the Flyers-Bruins matchup at the 2010 NHL Winter Classic.
If one of Bayside's songs were played at MSG, Ghanbarian says it would be a dream come true.
And it seems that dream may one day soon become a reality. Ghanbarian has received messages from fans telling him that Bayside has been heard during NHL games in Minnesota and Phoenix. It could be just a matter of time before one of their hits such as "Sick, Sick, Sick" or "Already Gone" makes it way to the Eastern Conference.
When asked who his favorite Ranger is Ghanbarian shows his blue-collar leanings.
"I'm sorry Brian Leetch, I'm sorry Adam Graves but (Ryan Callahan) is my new favorite player." he says.
The choice is fitting. The hard-nosed Rangers forward is also known for his tireless work ethic. And hard work isn't just something Ghanbarian admires; he's worked hard his entire career. Bayside has been honing their craft for the pastdecade, touring relentlessly.
"If we didn't work our butts off we wouldn't get anywhere," says Ghanbarian, adding that it takes a lot of hard work, "to hit a point of decency with your profession."
Ghanbarian has certainly enjoyed this season's Ranger roster. It's a team that's fought through major injuries, and benefited from surprising offensive numbers from the likes of Brian Boyle and Brandon Prust – players known more for their grit than goals. But win or lose, Ghanbarian has been enjoying watching this team, "even if it's a loss, as long as the effort is there."
This year Ghanbarian took his hockey fandom a step further and joined his first fantasy hockey league. He's faring pretty well; currently he's battling it out in the second round of the playoffs thanks to a pair of Ducks: Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Ghanbarian doesn't let his career as a touring musician get in the way of his dedication to the Rangers, either. Bayside's tour bus is equipped with DirectTV, so no matter where he's traveling in America, he is always able to tune-in to the NHL Network and MSG.
And what is that Rangers inspired tattoo Ghanbarian got? It's an illustration of the Stanley Cup with a banner reading "6-14-1994."