Editor’s Note: As part of WFAN’s 30th anniversary celebration, from April 3-14, we asked you to vote on your favorite local teams over the past 30 years. Over the course of two weeks, we are revealing the top-10 vote getters. To see the others, click here.
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Chants of “1940!” no more.
The Rangers and their fans were tormented by Islanders supporters for years due to the Original Six team’s inability to win the Stanley Cup for decades.
But that all changed during the 1993-94 season.
Thanks to inventive front-office work, inspired coaching, amazing goaltending and incredible leadership, the Rangers kicked their demons to the curb once and for all by winning their first NHL championship in 54 years.
General manager Neil Smith put the team together over the course of a handful of seasons. Smith acquired center Mark Messier and winger Adam Graves prior to the 1991-92 season, before hiring Mike Keenan as head coach in the summer of 1993. Later at that season’s trade deadline, Smith picked up gritty forwards Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson.
With defensemen Brian Leetch and Sergei Zubov, goaltender Mike Richter and an assortment of other highly skilled and experienced players already in the mix, the Rangers had all the ingredients to end their long-running misery.
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy with a then-franchise-record 112 points, the Rangers decimated the rival Islanders in the first round of the playoffs, outscoring them 22-3 in a four-game destruction.
The Blueshirts then took out Washington in five games before being forced to go the distance against the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. With New Jersey up in the series heading into Game 6, Messier guaranteed a victory and then scored three goals in a 4-2 win that sent the series back to Madison Square Garden.
In the deciding game, Stephane Matteau scored in the second overtime, his second double-OT goal of the series, sending the Rangers back to the Cup Final for the first time since the 1978-79 season.
The Rangers were pushed to the limit in the championship round by the Vancouver Canucks before prevailing 3-2 in Game 7 at the Garden. Messier scored the eventual Cup-clinching goal in the second period, thus ending one of the most talked-about title droughts in sports history.