NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s no surprise that the New York Rangers had a presence in Friday’s funeral for hero cop Steven McDonald.
The NYPD detective, known for forgiving a gunman who left him paralyzed in 1986, was such a passionate fan of the Blueshirts that the team created the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, given annually to the player who goes above and beyond the call of duty both on and off the ice.
McDonald died Tuesday at a Long Island hospital where he’d been admitted after suffering a heart attack days earlier. He was 59.
Rangers great Adam Graves was among those who spoke at McDonald’s funeral Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“I know you’ve all heard a lot over the last few days about how much the New York Rangers meant to Steven McDonald, and we’re grateful and humbled by the role our team played in this remarkable man’s life,” Graves said. “But I’m here to make one thing very, very clear: Steven McDonald meant more to the New York Rangers and our fans than we could ever mean to him.
“Steven was quite simply nothing short of a giant to all of us who played, worked and rooted for the Rangers organization. He touched all of us, he changed all of us, and we’ll always be in awe of you, Detective McDonald.”
Graves said winning the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, which he did five times, was one of the great honors of his career. He said the award would continue to honor McDonald as long as the Rangers exist.
“Each year, all of us at Madison Square Garden — players, staff and fans — looked forward to the award presentation because we knew Steven would say something that we would remember forever, something that spoke to the very best of us, that asked us to see the very best in each other,” Graves said.
Since McDonald’s death, the Rangers have been active on social media in remembering the police officer.
On Friday, the team asked its fans to change their profile pictures to one showing a Rangers jersey with McDonald’s name and badge number, 104.
Come game time, the Rangers took the ice, donning warm-up jerseys bearing McDonald’s name and badge number. During an emotional pregame tribute, McDonald’s widow, Patti Ann, and son, Conor, dropped the first puck.
Conor said “The Garden” was a home away from home for the family and being there Friday night was what his father would have wanted.
“The Rangers mean so much to my family. And for my dad and I, this is the greatest memories we ever had — were the Madison Square Garden, the zamboni area, you know talking to you guys,” he told MSG Network.
The team even set up a locker in McDonald’s name.
Earlier in the week, the Rangers posted a tribute video. In it, McDonald speaks about how much attending games meant to him and his family after he became paralyzed.
“My appreciation of New York Rangers hockey is something I live with 12 months a year,” he said. “It’s something that my wife, my son and I share. It helps me to live day to day the way that I am.”
The Rangers will also honor McDonald at Friday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden.