already owns a Hobey Baker Award and an NCAA championship. New York Rangers
fans hope he can add a Stanley Cup ring to his collection.
Gilroy, the 2009 Hobey Baker winner who captained Boston University to the NCAA championship earlier this month before signing with the Rangers as a free agent, certainly won't have to worry about having family and friends at his games. The 24-year-old is from Long Island where he led St. Mary's High School to two New York state championships.
Gilroy said the Rangers beat out two other NHL teams bidding for his services for three reasons: His respect for the Rangers and Madison Square Garden, the advice of Rangers captain (and former BU star) Chris Drury
, who stayed in touch with the Terriers through the Frozen Four, and his experience with Rangers coach John Tortorella last year at the World Championships.
"I'm excited to join the organization. After (BU) ended a week ago, I went back home with my agents and my family. We got down to three teams pretty quickly," Gilroy said prior to Wednesday's playoff game between the Rangers and Washington Capitals
. "I was having a tough time with it and I talked to a couple of people. I went with my gut feeling. You can't turn down being a New York Ranger and playing in MSG every night.
"Coach Tortorella … I really liked him in Tampa, his coaching style. I got to play for him for about a week in the Worlds last year. He was a big reason for coming here."
Though Gilroy said he's never been to a Rangers game at the Garden, he's been there plenty of times -- for basketball games. His father, Frank, was a college star at St. John's, and Gilroy said he's seen numerous college hoops games at the Garden.
"He told us stories of the Garden being packed," Gilroy said. "I used to come to games. Actually I’ve never been to a Rangers game. We lived a mile from the rink [Nassau Coliseum], so we used to go to Islanders games. But this arena, and the prestige of wearing a Rangers blue uniform, is unbelievable. I can’t wait for that opportunity to happen."
Gilroy was an undersized high-school defenseman who played junior hockey in Massachusetts and then paid his own way to Boston University.
"The reason I was such a late bloomer, to be honest with you, is that I didn't hit puberty until I was 18 years old," Gilroy admitted. "I still don't shave. I'm 24 and it's embarrassing."
He said he wasn't discouraged when he didn't get drafted at 18. In fact, it energized him.
"It kind of helped me along," Gilroy said. "Maybe I'm stubborn or my parents are stubborn. They told me to always believe in myself and go after it. I spent a boatload of my dad's money. He had to pay for me to go to college. Hopefully, I can give that back to them. They taught us to be hard workers."
Gilroy thanked BU coach Jack Parker for his tough discipline and demands for adherence to the BU system. He said Parker and his staff made him much better at the defensive aspects of playing the position.
"This year, what we did at Boston University, you become a team player and you fall in love with your team," Gilroy said. "You do anything for your team, and that's what we had up there. When we won our championship, it wasn't an easy road this year. It was buying into each other, trusting each other and believing in what you do.
"That's what the Rangers are about: They believe in each other and they want to win. I talked to Chris Drury
a little bit, him being from BU, what he's done, the championships he's won in his life, coming here. That's what they want to do here and I want to be a part of that."