What our clubs, especially SCB, can learn from the New York Rangers

Mark Messier at the 25th anniversary.Build: AP/AP

Eismeister Zaugg

How is it possible that a sportingly unsuccessful club in New York of all places has become the world’s most expensive hockey company? Quite simply: by celebrating the past. Our hockey teams could do the same.

10.02.2019, 10:2010.02.2019, 17:00

Klaus Zaugg

In 79 years, the New York Rangers have won just one Stanley Cup. On June 14, 1994 in the 7th final game against Vancouver (3:2).

And yet the Rangers in New York have a cult following and are economically more successful than any other hockey company in the world. A money machine that churns out around $100 million in profits annually, four times the league average. The most expensive hockey team in the universe, valued at $1.5 billion. The average value of NHL clubs is around 650 million.

Actually, I “only” wanted to see the Rangers game against Carolina. Mainly because of Nino Niederreiter, who is now rocking the league with Carolina. And talk to him a little afterwards.

But the game becomes secondary. The Rangers are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their last Stanley Cup win in 1994. I hadn’t even thought of that. Luckily I was there, as usual, a good two hours beforehand.

It’s going to be a terrific show. chicken skin. The emotions overwhelm everyone. From 6 p.m. the heroes of 1994 will be celebrated. The arena is filled to capacity. Although the game against Carolina doesn’t start until 8 p.m.

This is how the Rangers celebrated winning the championship 25 years ago. Video: YouTube/leksa0990

The warriors of 1994, in a Rangers outfit of course, stride across a red carpet into the center circle. There they are greeted individually and gradually sit down in a semicircle. On the way there they walk through a trellis of fans.

Finally, Captain Mark Messier delivers the speech. It’s almost like he’s fighting back tears as he delivers his speech. Probably the most charismatic leader of the pack in hockey history says there was no way to escape the pressure of expectation of finally winning the first Stanley Cup since 1940. “I didn’t know Madison Square Garden had two million seats. Since 1994, at least two million people have approached me about this game, and they were also there…». They were not a group or a team. “We were a family.”

Only one is no longer alive. Alexander Karpotsev lost his life in 2011 in the plane crash with the Yaroslavl team. Now his wife and daughter are there. Brian Noonan is also absent. He had other commitments that evening.

And now I know that I’ve grown old. I saw these stars in the stadium. Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Esa Tikkanen, Glen Andersson, Adam Graves and Craig McTavish – and now the gladiators have become friendly elderly gentlemen. Some already grey.

The audience is smitten. It’s as if the last 25 years are flashing back in time. And it’s very, very quiet again when, as is the custom, the anthem is sung before the game. Or rather this time there is no singing.

The carpet is rolled out. The spotlight on the square. But nobody stands behind the stand with the microphone. For once, the anthem will not be sung live. John Amirante, who performed the anthem on June 14, 1994 before the all-important game, is recorded. As before all games between 1980 and 2015. He died in April at the age of 83.

The current Rangers players respectfully watched the whole ceremony from their dugout. They say goodbye to the 1994 Titans with a handshake.

Verily, this is true sports culture. This is how sport gets the social and political importance it deserves. The withdrawal of the jersey number is part of the appreciation of one’s own history and the old heroes. The jerseys hang at the top of the arena, along with the banners of past achievements.

And what are our clubs doing? A few numbers are withdrawn here and there. But arbitrarily, without meaning and without regard to one’s own glorious past. The fans cannot see whose number is selected. The selection is arbitrary and the rules for it are constantly being changed at will, as with the SCB, according to the emotions of the day.

It fits the picture that the SCB does not implement a wonderful idea, a “Night of Champions” any better on January 19th. Why just a quarter-hour ceremony for 100 master players before the game against Lugano? Why not a big show from 6 p.m. like in Madison Square Garden? Why not more events like this? For example, now an anniversary for the masterful titans of 1989? There are many masterful anniversaries to be celebrated in Bern. More than in Madison Square Garden anyway.

It may be that we lack understanding for such hero worship. But why actually? There is no other city where sports companies could celebrate their history, their fame and their giants in our country as well as Bern. The sports capital of Switzerland.

Nino Niederreiter scores his first goal for the Carolina Hurricanes against Boston.

Nino Niederreiter scores his first goal for the Carolina Hurricanes against Boston.Build: AP/FR171450 AP

The custom of honoring the heroes of the past, of celebrating one’s own history, is not just a question of respect and sentimentality. It’s part of the sports business. And the better you do it, the nicer the thalers will ring in the cash register and the less dependent you will be on success and failure in the present.

By the way, the Rangers lost the game in Madison Square Garden against Carolina 0:3. Nino Niederreiter plays well, doesn’t hit the goal, but causes a lot of unrest in the opposing zone.

But the gameplay no longer interested the spectators. What’s such a defeat compared to the everlasting glory of 1994?


For example, what would failure for SCB in the 2019 title fight be compared to the eternal glory of the masterful giants of 1989?


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quelle: ap the canadian press / darryl dyck

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