TAMPA, Fla. — Twenty-eight years in the past, the Rangers sat in the identical form of place they sit in proper now.
Down three video games to 2 within the NHL’s remaining 4, dealing with elimination, two wins wanting a berth within the Stanley Cup Ultimate, taking part in Sport 6 within the different workforce’s constructing.
Twenty-eight years in the past — Could 25, 1994 — the workforce chief made a press release. It got here by means of the assured and calming voice of the Captain, Mark Messier, guaranteeing that the Rangers can be going again dwelling to Madison Sq. Backyard to play a Sport 7 in opposition to the Devils.
“We all know we’re going to go in there and win Sport 6 and convey it again to the Backyard,” Messier instructed reporters in a marvelously calculated, but matter-of-fact trend.
The again web page of The Submit the following day famously blared: “WE’LL WIN TONIGHT,” with a subhead of: “Captain Brave’ daring prediction.”
Messier was on the telephone with The Submit on Friday night time upfront of the Rangers’ win-or-begin-vacation Sport 6 in opposition to the Lightning on Saturday night time at Amalie Area — however this time, he made no predictions.
He was, nevertheless, delivering some parallels and a few hope for the workforce for which he nonetheless bleeds blue.
“We discovered ourselves on the improper facet of the momentum in that sequence,’’ Messier recalled of trailing the Devils 3-2 with Sport 6 in New Jersey. “The Devils had wrested momentum from us and we had to determine a method to get it again.’’
Mark MessierGetty Photos
Does that sound acquainted? (The Rangers took a 2-0 sequence result in Tampa final week and have misplaced the three video games since.)
The place the place there isn’t a parallel is inside the present Rangers’ dressing room. Their roster is so younger (common age 26.7 years outdated) that they’re making an attempt to change into the youngest workforce to hoist the Stanley Cup because the 1993 Canadiens.
Although there seems to be robust collective management and vitality on this Rangers workforce, there isn’t a participant as established and with the form of cachet Messier carried.
Messier’s 1994 message for his workforce is not any totally different than it’s as we speak for the workforce that can be desperately making an attempt to keep away from elimination.
“A very powerful factor is that the workforce believes that it may go in there and win Sport 6,’’ Messier stated. “You may’t win with out the assumption. I knew we had been adequate. I knew we had sufficient veterans that might execute beneath stress.
“I used to be so targeted on making an attempt to determine the psyche and the mentality and the emotional state of our workforce, ensuring all people actually believed we may win. That was the message. I wished my gamers to imagine they might do it.
Mark Messier scores previous Martin Brodeur in the course of the 1994 Jap Convention finals. AP
“I instructed them the identical factor within the dressing room, however I wished to reconfirm it. Once we awakened the following morning and noticed the papers, it was like subliminal messaging: We’re adequate. We will do it. We’ve achieved it earlier than. We’ve confirmed it earlier than.
“You simply begin pounding these constructive affirmations, as a result of for those who don’t imagine you possibly can win, you’re not going to win. You need to have the arrogance which you could go on the market and play effectively in massive moments.’’
The Rangers’ largest second of this season is the one proper in entrance of them.
Is there a participant on this Rangers dressing room to ship a Messier-like message?
“I don’t know any of the gamers as a result of I’m not across the room, so for me to talk to that might be unfair,’’ Messier stated. “However management has not been an issue. It appears to have been good all yr. They’ve handed each acid take a look at they confronted in the course of the common season and through these playoffs.’’
Once I requested Messier if it’s attainable the Rangers, regardless of their youth, have hit a wall, in the event that they’re merely gassed proper now, having performed 19 playoff video games in 38 days, he stopped me in mid-sentence.
“No,’’ he stated. “No, no, no. Look, all people at the moment of yr is totally fatigued. The stress issue is at an all-time excessive. However for those who let that narrative creep into the dressing room, you’re completed. The minute you begin serious about 19 and 38 and all of the journey, it’s over.
“You can not let that permeate into the room. That involves management. What you do is you open the door to the dressing room and also you let the daylight in, you let the recent air in, and also you solely speak about how nice you are feeling. This workforce is younger, they’re wholesome, they’re in nice form.’’
The Rangers discover themselves in the same scenario they did earlier than Mark Messier’s well-known assure. AP
Messier’s prediction for Saturday night time?
“I picked the Rangers to win in seven, as a result of I absolutely anticipated them to present Tampa all it may deal with,’’ he stated. “I absolutely count on them to play effectively [Saturday] night time and hopefully get again to the Backyard for Sport 7.’’
It wasn’t a assure, and people phrases received’t grace the again web page of The Submit in Saturday editions.
Messier used the phrase “hopefully,’’ which implies he was hedging his guess. However he does like what he sees on this younger workforce that has a vivid future, a future that begins with the expertise Saturday night time, which can additional develop this group, win or lose.