Welcome to New York

By Mark Nagi

2015. That’s the first time I took my oldest daughter to see my favorite team, the New York Rangers, play a game in person.  We had watched them play so many times on television, but getting to walk into a hockey arena was a delight.

It’s a sport I grew up watching and, for my money, there is no better sport to watch live in person. The speed, the grace, the aggression… think of a bunch of Al Wilsons. Then think of them skating as effortless as running.

That’s hockey.

Fast forward to earlier this month. We take an annual holiday trip to New York City and the journey is scheduled around seeing the Rangers play at Madison Square Garden, the World’s Most Famous Arena. Yes, we shop… and see the sights.

We went to the top of the Empire State Building during what felt like a monsoon and yes, it sure is strange being above the clouds. We went ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park, and I took a lot of pride in the fact that I didn’t fall one time.

We saw the Taylor Swift exhibit at the Museum of Modern Design because these days everything revolves around Taylor Swift.

We also visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. That is sacred American ground. They’ve done a wonderful job documenting that awful day in our nation’s history and keeping the memory of the victims alive.

New York City is a great place to visit but is just so massive. You could be there for weeks and never get to everything you want to see. I grew up three hours north of Manhattan, and we’d visit once or twice a year. I love making modern-day New York memories with my daughter.

Oh, so back to our story. Game day. The Rangers are one of the best teams in the National Hockey League, and on this night, they’d host San Jose, one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League. On paper, this game was going to be a cakewalk, but as we all know, games are not played on paper.

Madison Square Garden is one of my favorite places on this planet, but I’ve rarely seen the Rangers win a game in that building. But that hasn’t stopped me from going to games. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. But I first saw the Rangers play there in 1992, and still get chills walking into that structure.

Last year was my daughter’s initial game at MSG, and we saw the Rangers get smoked by Chicago. It was a better experience this time around. On this night Rangers star Artemi Panarin picked up a hat trick, the fans were loud throughout the night, and New York hung on for a 6-5 victory.

You know how you hear people say that winning and losing don’t really matter and just going to the sporting event is enough?  That might be true, but it sure was a better trip back to Tennessee because our team was victorious.

Regular readers of this column know that from time to time I get on my soapbox about travel, and this is one of those times. Make some memories with your loved ones while you can because tomorrow isn’t promised. Mix a trip around a sporting event because there are all sorts of games to choose from whenever you like.