Times have changed, eras have gone, there’s a new year to celebrate.
The pride in which I and many others took in screaming “19-40” was strong. At NVMC, at every other arena, in bars, on the platform of the Chinatown/Gallery Place metro stop in DC, it was sung loud and proud. Every year it sounded good. Even in 1996, two years after the drought ended, “19-40” sounded beautiful. It was a reminder of futility, entitlement, disillusionment, and false stature. The first three Cups had gaps of 2, 5 and 7 years, which is actually a fairly successful 14-year run. It’s that one-in-74 stretch that is just delicious.
The thing that struck me the most during the Stanley Cup Final was the fact that it’s been two decades since Messier cried the New York Oilers way to the Cup. Twenty damn years. High school, college, a salaried job, and gray hairs. It’s been a long time. The Rangers created some merchandise highlighting this swath of time. Odd. Embracing failure to make money, to make it sound like success is “due”, it’s a sad position to be in. One hundred six years ago, the Chicago Cubs won their last World Series. The Rangers are on their way towards that mark, spiritually. It will not shock me if they do not make the Final again, let alone win, in the next 32 years.
“But, but, Islanders!…1980’s!…no playoffs!…DiPietro!” I know. We all know. The last 21 years have mostly been crap, but that’s only half the team’s existence. The Rangers are working on 100 years. There have been no Guarantees or Lifetimes associated with that last run. The most prominent number in Islanders history is 19, the record for consecutive playoff series won. A record that may never be broken in our lifetime, and also a stretch of time that celebrates victory instead of failure.
Islanders fans do hold on to a point in the past, but it is a period of strength. A small bump “out” of misery is not success. This is what 1994 represents. No longer a bookend to a positive, it is now the beginning of a new low. A low that has now become a point of “celebration” because it’s still stuck in the memory of many. “Ninety-4!”, or however you wish to visually wish to express it, is the new insult. It’s the last time the Rangers weren’t failing decade by decade. Let the rest of us celebrate that.