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A look back at the Islanders/Rangers Rivalry | October

Originally i wrote this peice for my school paper and since today is the first Islanders/Rangers game of the season i thought id put up here. Enjoy the piece and hopefully ill have a pre game piece up before they drop the puck.

New York Islanders Vs New York Rangers

Probably one of the most vicious, heated, and long running rivalries in New York has to be the Islanders Vs Rangers. Originating back in 1972, when the NHL awarded New York with a second NHL team, the Islanders and Rangers have been involved in the most intense and bizarre moments in New York sports history.

 In 1975, the Islanders made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history against their rival, the Rangers. The grueling three game series ended when Islanders forward J.P Parise scored eleven seconds into overtime in game three. The two would meet seven more times, in 1979 when the Rangers defeated the Islanders in six games. From 1981-1984 the Isles would defeat the Rangers each year in the playoffs, and twice in 1990 and 1994, where the Rangers defeated the Islanders both times, including on their way to their first Stanley Cup since 1940. Playoffs are just the tip of the iceberg for this great rivalry; the countless chants such as “We want fish sticks,” which mocks the Isles 1994-1995 jersey with an image that resembled the Gordon’s Fisherman. “Potvin Sucks,” whistled to the tune of “Let’s Go Band” refers back to 1979 when Islander defenseman Denis Potvin laid out the Rangers Ulf Nilsson ending his season. Recently, chants of “Kansas City” referring to the possibility that the Islanders might leave Long Island. On the other side Islanders fans have come up with such tunes as “The Rangers Suck” played to the tune of the Chicken Dance. “If you Know the Rangers Suck,” played to the tune of “If Your Happy and You Know It.” Lastly, the old chant of 1940 was a staple until 1994 when the Rangers won their first Cup in 54 years.

The Isles/Rangers is always an intense match up and features and array of odd events and fights. One of the oddest incidents took place back on April of ‘07 between Ranger players and the Islanders Ice Girls. Ranger Goalie Henrik Lundqvist refused to leave his crease to allow the Ice Girls to clean the area around the net and then slashed the squeegee used to pile the snow hitting Kelli Higgins in the stomach. Later another Ice Girl reported a Ranger player spat on her while she skated near the player benches. The incident made New York papers for several days following the incident.

Where it gets the ugliest these days, is not on the ice but in the stands. Stephanie Squire,an Islanders fan since the 6th grade, recalled one of the uglier moments she witnessed while attending a game. “At a game (at the Coliseum) people started getting into fights and throwing soda on the Rangers,” Stephanie said with a gleeful smile. Nick Calabro, a Ranger fan for the past ten years shared a similar experience, but played a more active role in the mayhem. “My sister and I were at a game in a luxury suite at the Coliseum throwing popcorn over the ledge at this Islanders fan,” Nick explained, “the Islanders fan turned around and accused a Rangers fan behind us of throwing the popcorn at him and the two got into a fight.” What drives the fans to these lengths, one might ask? “The immense pride of the fans, the heat of the moment and the claim to New York hockey Supremacy,” Nick speculated. "When these two teams meet, the fans throw stats out the window and all that matters to them is if their team wins."

While it is overlooked by most major sports media, it is considered by many the best rivalry in New York. “This rivalry is the best because the fans care so much about their teams and it creates rivalries between friends,” believes Stephanie. The Islanders and Rangers will meet five times this season including an upcoming game on October 28. With several new faces on each team including Long Island natives, Christopher Higgins and Matt Gilroy; in addition to Vinny Prospal, Martin Gaborik and the return of NHL bad boy Sean Avery for the Rangers. Along with number one draft pick John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson for the Islanders. This years match ups should be just as, if not more, intense than in years past. This year also comes with an ironic twist to it, both John Tortorella, head coach of the Rangers and Scott Gordon, head coach of the Islanders, will serve as assistant coaches during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.