Prior to tonight's game vs. the Atlanta Thrashers, the Rangers' all-time career goaltending leader with 301 wins was given a brief taste of the emotion and energy that will fill Madison Square Garden on February 4, 2004 when his number 35 is raised to the rafters.
Mike Richter, who retired from hockey on September 4, was on hand at The Garden to drop the puck during the ceremonial pre-game face-off between Blueshirt captain Mark Messier and Thrashers captain Shawn McEachern, marking the start of the 2003-04 home schedule.
When introduced before the Garden crowd, Blueshirt fans gave Richter a long, generous standing ovation, which included the familiar chants of 'R-i-c-h-t-e-r, R-i-c-h-t-e-r' filling the arena.
"It was very nice," said the three-time All-Star, who played his entire 15-year National Hockey League career on Broadway.
"The New York fans have always been good to me. I think one of the things you feel uncomfortable about in a pre-game situation like that is being in the way of the two teams who are getting ready to play, but being acknowledged was certainly nice."
On Wednesday, February 4, 2004, Richter will join only two other players in Rangers history to have their jersey number retired - Hall of Famers Ed Giacomin (#1) and Rod Gilbert (#7).
In 666 career matches with New York, Richter posted a 301-258-73 record, along with a 2.89 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.