The hardest word to say is goodbye.
I will admit I am far from the biggest fan of both Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. I wish I had decided to write for Aery’s earlier in the season so you knew my feelings for them. They were two guys that most fans had a strong opinion on – either love or hate. I switched back and forth on a nightly basis.
That said, they were part of this team and therefore they were “my boys”. I have a tendency of growing attached to things – whether it be reading every book by a specific author or seeing every movie a certain actor/actress is in. If I feel it is worth my time, I give it 200 percent. And that’s what I did with the 2011-2012 Rangers. From Lundqvist to Woywitka, these were my boys and I grew extremely attached to each and every one of them.
Which is why Monday was so difficult. Yes others have left already but these two were born and bred Rangers. They went through the ranks, were there through every up and down, grew up right in front of our eyes. They were “our babies” and I’m not sure I’m ready share them with someone else.
I know no words I write here will be enough but I’m going to try.
I remember when Brandon Dubinsky was a rookie. We had just signed centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez to play with Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan and here was this bratty little center who managed to get first line minutes with future hall of famers. We all know what happened with Drury and Gomez as neither were able to play with the 600+ goal scorers. Dubi could and fans fell in love.
From the moment he hit the ice for his first game, no player bled blue more than Dubi. Need a shot blocked? No problem. Need a hit thrown? He was there. Need him to play 20 minutes a night or only 10? Whatever ice time the coach gave him, he gave his all during. He would go to bat for any teammate without blinking an eye irregardless of the fact he couldn’t throw a punch to save his life. (He eventually got better but I still wouldn’t call him a proficient fighter.) You knew what you were getting with Dubi.
Do all of those traits sound familiar? They should. They are the same traits you will find in Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal. To me, that is the “core” the Rangers always talk about. Yes the team has added to it but the original core, the true core, were those four. And now a piece is gone.
I can sit here and post videos of memorable moments in Dubinsky’s Rangers career but there is one game/goal that always comes to mind for me:
That game, that overtime goal, will be my favorite Rangers moment for a very long time. I was ecstatic when we finally beat the Caps this year. Will probably be even happier if the team finally reaches it’s ultimate goal. But I remember that game as if it happened last night. Winning 1-0 in Pittsburgh with three minutes to go, giving up two quickies and then the Rangers did that. And no matter what happens, it can never happen like that again.
That joy, that heart…that is what I will miss about Dubinsky.
And then you have Anisimov. Three seasons with the Rangers where he went up and down the line-up on a nightly basis. The only constant – he was always in the line-up. He only missed three games in those three years and all of them were last season. He drove Tortorella absolutely crazy with his inconsistency, yet every night he was there doing exactly what he was told to do.
He didn’t start as a defensive player. But Torts told him if he wanted ice time, he needed to be more responsible defensively. What did Artie do? Learn to block shots. Next thing fans knew, he was killing penalties.
Torts told him that he would need to learn English if he wanted to fit in better with the team. So he spent a summer in New York taking classes so he could communicate with his teammates. The outcome? Ask any Rangers player who the funniest guy in the room was and they will say Artie. He didn’t talk much and unfortunately was afraid to talk to the media, but players and writers all said he would have them rolling when he spoke. Rumor was Boyle taught him how to speak with a Boston accent. I would’ve loved to have heard that.
Of course I can’t mention Artie without mentioning his goal celebration. I don’t think much else needs to be said:
Keep reloading your weapon Artie. And you too Dubi. We’re going to miss you both in NY. You were part of something special and deserved the chance to see it through.
Players come and go but it doesn’t make it any easier to say that seven letter word. So instead, I will say good luck to you both. I know this Rangers fan is grateful for all the blood, sweat and tears you gave to this organization. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.