WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with Tim Sullivan, an Associated Press sports editor and author of Battle on the Hudson: the Devils, the Rangers, and the NHL’s Greatest Series Ever, which is published by Triumph.
The early spring of 1994 is considered by many fans to be the pinnacle of winter sports in New York City. The Knicks were on their way to seven-game classic Finals loss to the Rockets, and in hockey, the Rangers were running down a 54-year demon in their quest for a Stanley Cup.
Along the way, they’d have to knock off both of their neighbors, the Islanders and Devils, but it was the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils that set a new standard in playoff hockey excellence.
The Rangers were simply loaded, led by stars like Mark Messier and Brian Leetch. But they were also playing with the weight of the city on their shoulders, keen to end the drought once and for all. The Devils were an upstart with little postseason experience and something of an inferiority complex as they played in the shadow of Manhattan and the Blue Shirts.
The series brought together what would be the dominant franchises of the next decade: the Original Six Rangers, desperately hoping to capitalize on their last, best opportunity to win the Cup with the world watching, and the Devils, who would go on to turn muscular netminding and the so-called neutral zone trap into three titles over the next 10 years.
Joining us to explain what happened in that series — especially in the improbable Games 6 and 7 — is Sullivan, East Sports Editor and Executive Hockey Editor with the Associated Press.