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Rangers give Steven McDonald fitting, final tribute

Players, fans cheer New York police officer who personified going above and beyond call of duty

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

McDonald ceremonial puck drop

McDonald's wife, son take part in puck drop

Detective Steven McDonald's wife Patti Ann and son Conor are joined by Mark Messier and Adam Graves in a ceremonial puck drop

  • 01:34 •

NEW YORK -- Hours after thousands of uniformed police officers mourned him and many eulogized him in a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the New York Rangers honored New York City police officer Steven McDonald prior to and during their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden on Friday.

McDonald, a lifelong fan of the Rangers who was paralyzed by a gunshot wound while on patrol in Central Park on July 12, 1986, died of a heart attack Tuesday. He was 59. 

The Rangers named an award for him that has been given out at their last home game of every season since 1987-88. The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award is given to the player judged by the fans to go above and beyond the call of duty each season.

"It was emotional," Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said following the 4-2 loss. "It would have been nice to get a big win for Steven and his family."

They at least honored him in a big way.

Every Rangers player wore a special jersey in warmups with the No. 104 on the back representing McDonald's New York Police Department badge number. The Rangers also dedicated a stall in their dressing room to McDonald and rested a helmet with his badge number on the back on the top shelf.

Video: Rangers honor Steven McDonald pregame

Prior to the National Anthems, the Rangers honored McDonald with a narrated video tribute featuring images of the late officer flashing on the scoreboard. Instead of a moment of silence, the fans were urged to participate in a moment of cheer for McDonald. It lasted for 30 seconds.

Following the moment of cheer, former Rangers players Mark Messier and Adam Graves, who eulogized McDonald during the funeral, escorted McDonald's wife, Patti Ann, and son, Conor, also an officer in the NYPD, onto the ice for a ceremonial faceoff.

The McDonalds embraced as the fans cheered for them. 

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a more celebrated and respected and revered true hero," Graves said during an emotional video tribute shown in the first intermission.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and Maple Leafs alternate captain Morgan Rielly joined Graves, Messier and the surviving members of McDonald's family at center ice for the ceremonial faceoff. Conor and Patti Ann McDonald each hugged McDonagh.

The colors for the anthems were presented by the NYPD, and NYPD officer Lauren Leggio sang The Star Spangled Banner.

Video: Rangers fans honor McDonald with moment of cheers

"It was definitely a nice ceremony," Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "There's a lot of emotions I think for a lot of guys watching that."

It wasn't over yet.

The Rangers played another tribute video in McDonald's honor during the first television timeout. Graves was joined in giving testimonials to McDonald and what he meant to the city and the Rangers by McDonagh, Lundqvist, Girardi, Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan and former Rangers goalie Mike Richter.

Zuccarello is a two-time winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. Lundqvist won it once. Graves won it a record five times.

"He truly inspires us to be the best we can be because he represents the best in humanity," Graves said during the video.

McDonald's family was again shown on the scoreboard and, as Patti Ann waved to the crowd and embraced Conor, the fans gave a standing ovation and some started chanting McDonald's name.

"It was an emotional moment," Stepan said. "It's something that you don't forget either. It was a really cool moment."

Prior to the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault recalled the first time McDonald left an indelible mark on him.

"My first real moment with him was prior to the first time that I was coaching that he went to speak on the ice," Vigneault said. "I don't know if you remember, but he talked to our players, he talked to the fans and then he talked to me about going above and beyond. That sort of became our slogan in the playoffs, going above and beyond. That year in particular we went to the Stanley Cup Final. 

"Our thoughts right now are with him and his family."

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