Alumni @ TBL

Bridging the past with the present.

On Thursday, the Rangers held their final alumni trip of the season as they swapped the city for sunshine in Tampa Bay. The trip, presented by Konica Minolta, marked the third event of the season as part of an organizational initiative to continue fostering connections between those who are forever bonded by having been a Blueshirt.

“Every time we do an event, it’s always first class,” said Rangers legend Stephane Matteau. “They treat us so well. All of us are very grateful for what the Rangers are doing. When they called, I said, ‘Put me in, I want to go!’ I’m always in for something like this and to make more memories.”

Matteau, along with Adam Graves, Henrik Lundqvist, Dominic Moore, Nick Kypreos, Adam Hall and Aaron Voros, united in the Sunshine State to cheer on the Rangers against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night at Amalie Arena. The agenda also featured a swap of hockey sticks for golf clubs as the group hit the course at TPC Tampa Bay on Friday.

For Matteau, the experience afforded him the chance to reconnect with Graves and Kypreos, with whom he shares the ultimate bond with after having won the Stanley Cup with them in 1994. But he also noted the importance of getting to know some of the alumni who have more recently joined the fold like Lundqvist, whom Matteau has been a fan of for the last 15 years.

“Who else can we talk to who has never played hockey or played in the NHL?” Matteau said. “It’s hard to share stories with people who have never been around. We discussed the new team, the past, the future, our kids, our grandkids now. Sometimes we just sit there and we’re all so comfortable. Even if we never played together, we’re all so comfortable and get it.”

And while some faces are more familiar than others, these alumni trips continue to bolster the bonds among the entire group. It’s an opportunity for the alumni to unite, support the current Rangers and celebrate what it means to be a New York Ranger for life.

“We all support each other,” Matteau said. “We all care for each other. We’re all interested in what we’re up to. The friendship that we’ve built over the years -- it’s something that no one can take away from us.

“It’s special. Just to connect, reconnect and grow old together -- that’s the best part.”