You know how the championship-celebration routine goes – it’s pretty common across sports. Players spray champagne everywhere. There’s a parade. Either at some team function during the offseason or at a pregame ceremony the following season, they get their championship rings. And at that same pregame ceremony, a championship banner is raised. It’s an event full of pomp and pride, as players and fans alike look back fondly on the magical title run. Well, at least when the banner actually commemorates a championship, anyway. The new one in Madison Square Garden celebrating the Rangers’ accomplishments last season, on the other hand…
Hey, it’s not that the Rangers didn’t have a good season. They had an excellent one. But ultimately, it was also a disappointing one, because the team that posted the highest regular-season point total in the conference failed the make the Cup finals – and lost to a regional rival in the conference finals, at that. Sure, the Rangers haven’t been the most successful franchise, but they’ve won Stanley Cups. They’ve got a long, proud history. Is a division title worth a banner?
Purely on lack-of-merit grounds, the banner is already a little sad. But what makes it much, much sadder? The lockout. No one has seen that banner displayed at a Rangers game – because there haven’t been any Rangers games since they lost the East finals to the Devils. It’s like this banner exists in an alternate universe, one in which the NHL is playing out its schedule, giving the Rangers the chance to raise a better banner next year. But it’s very much a part of this universe, one more reminder of disappointment in a league that’s nothing but disappointment for every one of its fans at the moment.
Where the banner’s sadness comes full circle, though: there wouldn’t have even been a banner-raising ceremony even if there’d been a Rangers game at which to do it. Why? Well, like we said before, the accomplishment it commemorates just wasn’t good enough to warrant a ceremony:
A Garden official said the Rangers would not have had a pregame ceremony to raise the Atlantic Division Champions banner.
“Higher aspirations,” he said.
Which brings us back to the original question: why hang a banner in the first place? Maybe it makes the MSG rafters look prettier, but as far as we’re concerned, if the team isn’t even going to acknowledge the raising of the banner via a public ceremony, the thing isn’t worth hanging to begin with. More than likely, Rangers fans will look at that banner and think back not on what was, but what could have been. You know, whenever there’s actually a Rangers game to go to again.