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1994 Championship Memories: Iron Mike

by Michael Obernauer / New York Rangers

NYRangers.com is getting ready to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers, and to welcome back the players and coaches and staff for a one-of-a-kind celebration on Feb. 8 at the Garden. We'll be looking back at a few of the memorable moments and characters that made the joy of this championship season one that will last a lifetime.

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Despite what you may have heard, there is in fact a soft side to Mike Keenan. It is unmistakable when he speaks of how much he is looking forward to seeing his title-winning team together again at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm looking forward to seeing my players - I've seen some of them since the Cup, but not all of them," Keenan said. "I want to see them and see how they're doing and see how their families have grown. That's the thing. That's what I'm really looking forward to."

Keenan, who arrived at the Garden in the spring of 1993 preceded by his reputation for sternness and success as an NHL head coach, will return on Friday night to be celebrated as the guiding hand (fist?) of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers. It is a group that achieved their greatest triumph together 25 years ago, who will throw a silver anniversary party back home at on Broadway on Friday night, and who Keenan can't wait to be reunited with.

Maybe, though, the evidence of a milder manner has been there all along, because Keenan, in an interview with NYRangers.com talking over memories of his team's run to a title that transfixed New York, recalled the moment 25 years ago when the man they call Iron Mike says he felt fully primed for the biggest hockey game of his life, Rangers vs. Canucks on June 14, 1994.

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1994 Championship Memories: Big Deal Neil

by Michael Obernauer / NYRangers.com

NYRangers.com is getting ready to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers, and to welcome back the players and coaches and staff for a one-of-a-kind celebration on Feb. 8 at the Garden. We'll be looking back at a few of the memorable moments and characters that made the joy of this championship season one that will last a lifetime.

LEARN MORE & GET TICKETS »


One of the most important acquisitions in the Rangers' assembly of the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship team came more than five years before the first Champagne cork was popped, when the team brought in the man who would lay the blueprint of a title winner - a 35-year-old out of the Red Wings organization named Neil Smith.

Smith was hired on July 17, 1989, to become the ninth General Manager of the Rangers, a title he would hold throughout the 1990s. Smith had cut his teeth with the Cup-winning Islanders in the early part of the decade, then built his stature working in Detroit's system in the mid- and late-'80s. Once he took command of the Rangers, his pursuit of a winner earned him the nickname "Big Deal Neil"; his acquisition of Mark Messier changed the course of the franchise forever, and his retooling of a first-place team on the day of the trade deadline in 1994 remains a signature day in Rangers history, for the boldness of the moves and for their discernible impact on the Rangers' playoff run in the spring of '94. Even though there was one trade on that day that Smith says he "hated."

"To win in New York, you better be proactive," Smith said in an interview with NYRangers.com. "And if you're not proactive, they're going to kick you out and get somebody who is. That's just the beat of New York."

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1994 Championship Memories: Eddie Olczyk and the Black Aces

by Michael Obernauer / NYRangers.com

NYRangers.com is getting ready to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers, and to welcome back the players and coaches and staff for a one-of-a-kind celebration on Feb. 8 at the Garden. We'll be looking back at a few of the memorable moments and characters that made the joy of this championship season one that will last a lifetime.

LEARN MORE & GET TICKETS »


If you were to take yourself back to 1994 and, in the fashion of the time, make a mix tape of a championship season, what kind of soundtrack would you compile? You might begin and end with "Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!" "This one will last a lifetime," sure - and sprinkle in an "Oh Baby" here and there, and maybe something in that unique dialect called Tikkanese, even if Esa Tikkanen might be the only person alive who could decipher it.

But if you wanted to get to ground level and capture the day-to-day of the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Champion Rangers, from the exhibition journey to London through the cruise down the Canyon of Heroes, you'll need this sound, too:

HEAVE-HO! HEAVE-HO! HEAVE-HO!

"It was our rallying cry," said Eddie Olczyk, who led the daily recitations that season. "Because when I think of Heave-Ho, I think of work and I think of together. And that's something that we did as well as anybody - we were together, and we worked."

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Gilbert: GAG Line to "Play Together Again" Following Hadfield's Honor

Hall of Famer expecting emotional night when former linemate's jersey retired at MSG in December

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Rangers legend Rod Gilbert had to keep a secret from his friend Vic Hadfield for over a month.

But once the curtain was lifted, his former teammate's reaction made it all worth it for No. 7, who broke the news that Hadfield's No. 11 will be retired in a pregame ceremony prior to the Rangers' game against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 2, 2018.

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Prospect Update: Howden, Ronning and Day in Action

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Brett Howden scored a goal, added an assist and was named the game's third star in a 6-2 win for Moose Jaw over Lethbridge in the Western Hockey League.

The 19-year-old has points in four of his last five games and has 21 multi-point games this season. The center has 24 goals and 41 assists for 65 points in 43 games played this season for the Warriors.

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Rangers Announce Hadfield's No. 11 To Be Retired Next Season

Hadfield becomes the 10th player in franchise history to have his number retired

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

For years, Vic Hadfield flanked Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert on the left side of the Goal-A-Game line. And next season, he'll retake his spot alongside his Hall of Fame teammates back home at Madison Square Garden when his No. 11 becomes the 10th jersey retired by the Rangers.

"Ladies and gentlemen, next season the G-A-G Line will be reunited … when the Rangers organization retires Vic Hadfield's No. 11," Gilbert said during Sunday's ceremony, honoring Ratelle and retiring his No. 19 sweater.

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"It's an incredible night.' Rangers Legends Reflect on Jersey Ceremonies

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Mike Richter said while he understood the magnitude of getting his No. 35 retired by the Rangers, the honor of that night back in February 2004 has only increased over the last 14 years.

"It's an incredible night and nobody puts on a better show and show of respect than the Rangers in this regard," Richter said. "I didn't know how special it was at the time and it's now years later that you recognize how important that moment was.

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Ratelle: Always a Gentleman, Forever a Ranger

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

There are dozens of ways to describe Jean Ratelle, but the word arguably most associated with No. 19 is "gentleman."

In a game so intense during an era of such physicality, Ratelle played the game the way it was meant to be played: with skill, finesse, an edge and carried himself in a way that left all those he associated with in awe.

"Jean was a true gentleman in every sense of the word," longtime linemate and friend Rod Gilbert said of Ratelle.

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Where Are They Now: Jed Ortmeyer

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Center Jed Ortmeyer signed with the Rangers in 2003 as a 24-year-old out of the University of Michigan, and would arrive on Broadway during the 2003-04 season. His first full year with the club came during the organization's resurgent 2005-06 campaign, and he'd spent another half season with New York in 2006-07 before leaving the Big Apple for Nashville.

NYRangers.com caught up with the Omaha, Neb.-native recently at Madison Square Garden to talk about his time with the Rangers, what he's up to in retirement and his piece in The Players' Tribune when he opened up about his medical condition.

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Where Are They Now: Bernie Nicholls

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

Center Bernie Nicholls arrived in New York in January 1990 in a trade from Los Angeles for Tomas Sandstrom and Tony Granato and had an immediate impact with his new club, posting 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points in 32 games with the Blueshirts.

He'd rack up 73 points in 71 games the following season before being involved in one of the biggest trades in Rangers history, when he was sent to Edmonton as part of a package for Mark Messier on Oct. 4, 1991.

NYRangers.com recently caught up with the former Ranger at Madison Square Garden to talk about coming to New York, his memories as a Devil facing the Rangers in 1994 and coming back to The Garden after all these years.

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