On Feb. 19, 2007, the Rangers organization gave its Season Subscribers the unique opportunity to skate on the ice at Madison Square Garden during the Seventh Annual Exclusive Season Subscriber Skating Party. In addition, Rangers alumni Nick Fotiu
, Ron Duguay
, Ron Greschner
and Brian Mullen
were on hand to greet the subscribers, pose for pictures, and sign autographs.
"I love skating around with the kids and answering their questions," said Mullen, one of the few native New Yorkers who have ever played in the NHL. "I really enjoyed it. I had a great time."
The Rangers Road Tour van was also at the arena, giving fans a chance to watch Rangers highlights on big screen TVs, play video games, pose for pictures with a Rangers cardboard cutout, and participate in the Slap Shoot booth on the Garden ice. Kids could also get their faces painted before heading onto the ice for their 45-minute skating session.
The most popular activity on the ice was picture-taking. Fans stood on the Rangers logo and captured a once-in-a-lifetime moment to remember and share with their friends who did not attend. One fan even posed for his picture while kissing the Rangers logo at center ice.
Bill Clabui brought his 11-year-old son Brendan to the skating party. Both said they loved skating on the ice at MSG and were looking forward to meeting both Greschner and Mullen.
"I'm a big-time Ranger fan," said Bill. "Walt Tkazcuk, Rod Gilbert, Eddie Giacomin. I still am die-hard Ranger fan."
Nine-year-old Nathaniel Deen, a goaltender from Rye, N.Y. attended the party with his father Paul.
"I grew up in Canada, but now I'm a Rangers fan after living in the city for 17 years now. The Rangers are our team," said Paul Deen. "Being able to skate on the ice at Madison Square Garden was great. Just to look up and see it. You see it from a different perspective. When you come to the games you see it from the stands. It was fun."
The Ledek family of Long Island was one of many subscriber families who mentioned that getting onto the Garden ice as a group was a dream come true.
After they skated, fans could tour the Rangers locker room. Many fans took pictures of themselves in the locker room to show friends and family who were not at the event. The tour guide showed some of the current Rangers lockers and told the fans where a few of the Rangers greats had lockers in the past.
This season, for example, Brendan Shanahan took over the locker of former Ranger Wayne Gretzky. Sean Avery
moved into Brian Leetch's old locker, and Ryan Hollweg has Mark Messier's former locker.
"Ever since my first year I came into the league I've always liked (meeting fans)," said Greschner, one of the greatest defensemen in Blueshirts history. "When I was about 9 years old I had a chance to get Eddie Shack's autograph and he turned me down. So I said I would never turn down anyone. I'll stay until the last person gets an autograph. I enjoy it. I love it. I like the fans. They're the people that made us proud to play."
A total of 2,500 people attended the Skating Party, and 2,000 took to the ice. Those who didn't skate were happy just to watch their friends and family members from the stands. The big turnout made the Feb. 19 event the largest one-day skating party that the Rangers organization had ever held.