We all love the game of hockey and our passion for the Rangers knows no bounds. While the game gives us so much in return, nothing is greater than the people we meet along the way at the rink, in the stands or in front of the television cheering on the Blueshirts from home.
Steven McDonald would be at the top of that list for us, a man we in the Rangers organization had the privilege of knowing and learning from for close to 30 years as a member of our family.
From the first moment we had learned of him being hospitalized on Friday through the news of his passing on Tuesday, our thoughts were with him, his wife, Patti Ann, and his son, Conor, every minute of every day.
Our hearts are very heavy with the loss of our friend, but you quickly begin to reflect on how fortunate we were to have had the opportunity for Steven to become such a big part of our lives, and how lucky we were to learn from a truly fantastic human being.
When I arrived in New York in 1991, as the son of a police officer I looked forward to the opportunity to meet and get to know Steven. I quickly learned and understood what an unbelievable man he was and what impact he had not only on the Rangers, but on New York City as a whole.
When we talk about heroes and courage and character, Steven not only exemplified those qualities but was the standard bearer for them. He taught a city about forgiveness and compassion in the face of a tragedy. His experience empowered him to impact his community and the city in a positive and extraordinary way few, if any, have done.
Steven's passion for the Rangers was second to none. Anyone who had the opportunity to watch a game with him saw that passion first hand. His knowledge of not only the Rangers but the game itself was remarkable. I can't help but smile thinking about those moments. How True Blue he was at heart.
The Extra Effort Award that has been given in Steven's name since 1988 is one of the highest individual honors any Ranger could receive. In addition to being in Steven's honor, what makes the award extra special if that it is voted on by the fans, whom Steven cared deeply for.
Each year, everyone looked forward to the night the award was presented. His passionate speeches not only spoke to the team, but to the fans and the city itself. The words came from the heart and brought the Blueshirt Faithful to their feet year after year.
When I received the award it was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. To stand alongside Steven on the Madison Square Garden ice and receive an award in his name is something I hold dear and will continue to for the rest of my life.
This award will now take on more meaning following his passing. We can reflect and understand how lucky we as a community were to have Steven in our lives.
His legacy and teachings, as well as the award itself, will continue on through his incredible wife and son, who we've all watched grow from a young boy into the man he is today, following in his footsteps as a detective in the New York City Police Department. Seeing Conor's success has been a great pride for us all.
Though we will miss Steven dearly, he will be forever with us.