New york rangers

Legendary Venues: Madison Square Garden

Next up in the Legendary Venues Series is another New York staple. This venue has been in existence since the 1800’s. It is also widely known as the world’s most famous arena and it is none other than Madison Square Garden.

The Garden, which sits between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to 33rd street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, is actually the fourth structure to bear the name “Madison Square Garden”. The first two existed from 1879-1890 and 1890-1925, respectively. The third which stood from 1925-1968 is now the location for One Worldwide Plaza, which was built after the third Garden was demolished.

Since the current Madison Square Garden opened in 1968, it has held many epic concerts with the biggest names in music history. Up until recently Elton John held the record for most concerts at the Garden with 62 appearances. It was broken by Billy Joel. Since 2014, Joel, the Grammy winning recording artist, has maintained a residency at MSG and has played 44 consecutive shows since beginning his tenure (He will play his 45th on Saturday). Regardless of who holds the record, when a band or an artist can amass a crowd large enough to play at an arena, it’s always an honor to play at the legendary Madison Square Garden.

Besides being a large scale concert venue, Madison Square Garden has also held a multitude of sporting events since opening its doors. It is the home venue of the New York Rangers of the NHL and the New York Knicks of the NBA. It also hosted some of boxing’s biggest fights before Las Vegas boxing became a thing.

Despite all the notable names and greatest concerts to ever grace the stage at MSG, the one that stands out to me (with liking the bands that I like) was LCD Soundsystem’s “final” concert. I say “final” because the band ended up getting back together last year and just released an album at the beginning of the month, which I wrote about after it came out. In that moment in 2011 though, it was a 4 hour long final goodbye of the band’s entire discography. It was all captured and put into the documentary “Shut Up and Play the Hits”, which came out the following year. I began liking LCD Soundsystem shortly before the documentary was released so I had no idea about the incredible spectacle that happened, until the documentary came out. As a band from NYC, there was no greater venue to host LCD’s last show than the Garden.

This past February I worked my first show at Madison Square Garden. It was The Lumineers’ first night of their two night stand. Obviously at that point, I never worked a show there, but I had also never actually been in the Garden period. I decided to stay to see the rest of the performance that night after I finished my shift: 1. Because I actually like The Lumineers and 2. Because it was at Madison Square Garden. When I finally was able to find a way down to watch the show (long story), I couldn’t help but take in the fact that I was watching a show at the Garden. Besides watching the actual performance, I admired the familiar circular ceiling that on a regular basis houses a large scoreboard at the center for its sporting events. I looked around the venue, at the crowd, and up at the banners earned by the Knicks and the Rangers. The Lumineers concert was sold out that night and although it probably won’t go down as one of the greatest concerts in the arena’s history, it was definitely a highlight for me in my career of both watching and working music events.

It’s definitely worth a trip to New York City to catch an event at Madison Square Garden, but a concert would be the best event in my opinion (wink wink). Although it’s not the only famous venue in the city, it’s one of legendary status and one of the most well-known in the world. Its history and incredible past performances can attest to that.

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Champions Again

I rarely write about sports on this blog anymore unless it involves women’s soccer. I mostly cover music. It’s what I’m most passionate about. Last night though, something that doesn’t happen very often occurred in the sports world giving me an opportunity to write about another sport for a change. My favorite NHL team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, won the Stanley Cup, the NHL’s Championship trophy.

Whether you know or not, I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I became a Pittsburgh Penguins fan by default. I grew up watching their AHL (minor league hockey) affiliate play in my hometown. I had season tickets to watch the team for many years and attended games regularly throughout middle school, high school, college, and even a few years after. I watched players develop and make it to the NHL. Then, I cheered them on as they played in the Burgh. In the fall of 2008, I made it out to Pittsburgh to see my first NHL game and returned yearly for games each fall through 2012 (I was even out there twice within a few months one year for two different hockey events). I explored Pittsburgh more and more each visit, falling in love with the Steel City. Since 2012, I returned to Pittsburgh three more times, once for a mini summer vacation trip and twice to see the Penguins play. The most recent visit was a mere three weeks ago to watch the Penguins play Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the first Stanley Cup Playoff game I had ever seen. I was pumped to attend, but probably not as excited as I would have been a few years ago when I was much more emotionally invested in the Penguins and hockey in general. I’m still so glad it occurred during this Championship run. Enough about me though. Let’s focus on the Penguins for a second. They’re the real champs right now.

Last evening at the SAP Center (aka The Shark Tank) in San Jose, CA, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to win the best of seven series 4-2 and hoist the Stanley Cup for the 4th time in franchise history (1991, 1992, 2009 were the other three championship years). Pittsburgh’s goals were scored by Brian Dumolin (power play goal, assists by Justin Schultz and Chris Kunitz, 1st period at 8:16), Kris Letang (game-winner, assists by Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary, 2nd period at 7:46), and Patric Hornqvist (empty net goal, assist by Sidney Crosby, 3rd period at 18:58). Logan Couture had the lone tally for San Jose when he tied the game at 1 apiece in the second period. Couture’s goal came 79 seconds before the eventual game-winner by Letang.

To win the Stanley Cup the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in the first round in 5 games, the President’s Trophy (given to the NHL team with the best record in the regular season) winning Washington Capitals in the second round in 6 games, and the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in 7 games before winning the series against the Sharks last night. The last time the Penguins won the Stanley Cup was exactly 7 years earlier on June 12, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings. Only 7 members of the current Penguins roster were part of the 2009 squad who hoisted the cup after Game 7 in Detroit. Several members of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, including playoff regulars, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Matt Murray, began the season with team’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The rookies played an integral part in Pittsburgh’s championship run making it an organizational victory from top to bottom. Of the 20 players who suited up for Pittsburgh during last night’s cup clinching game, 17 spent significant time in the AHL (significant being defined as 10 or more games). 8 of the 17 spent significant time with Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate.

I watched all 8 of those 17 players develop at some point making it pretty amazing to watch them lift the cup last night, especially the rookies who are only in their early 20’s (Murray just turned 22, unreal!). When the Pen’s won the cup in 2009, I had a much different feeling watching them win. I watched many of them grow in the AHL as well, but at the time I was younger and they were older. I looked up to those guys. Plus I never saw my favorite hockey team win a championship before (the AHL team never wins championships). This time felt more like a proud mom moment. All the guys I watched develop last year and the year before are a few years younger than me. I don’t see them in the same way as I did with the guys in 2009 and I already knew what it felt like to win a championship. My celebration wasn’t as wild. I didn’t run around the house screaming. I wasn’t out of breath. Part of the reason is also because I don’t watch hockey the same way. For years, hockey took up so much of my time. Within the last few years, I wanted to move on from hockey and focus on my life and achieve my goals. Hockey was just a form of entertainment for me. I became a more casual fan and stopped attending games regularly. It’s more fun that way now. I just enjoy watching the sport. It’s a pretty exciting sport too and great to watch when working out. Overall, I’m just free to focus on me, which is my priority anyway.

No matter what though, the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be my favorite hockey team. I grew up as Penguins fan and I have no doubt my allegiance will stick with me no matter where I go or what I do. When the Pens go on a playoff run, I’ll always support them just as I did this spring and last night. Since they actually won the cup during this run, it’s time to celebrate the championship. Way to go Pittsburgh! Let’s Go Pens! Party hard!

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A Great Day for Hockey

When I was in 5th grade, a big change occurred in my hometown. It was the opening of a brand new arena that planned to bring new forms of entertainment to the area. One of those forms of entertainment was the addition of a minor league hockey team. I attended the first ever game for this team at the new arena. It was a big deal for the community at the time and little did I know, it was also a big deal for me. The new team started my interest in hockey and along the way made me into a hockey fan.

My family has had season tickets for this team for the last 14 years (it’s the team’s 16th season), but I really didn’t start getting too into it until about the 4th year or so that we had the tickets. Still, it’s been a long time. Long enough that I feel like I need a change when it comes to hockey, but that’s a whole different story. Anyway, the point is that this week is the start of both the NHL and AHL (the minor league that our local team is in) seasons. Tonight in particular is the start for the NHL. I most likely won’t be making blog posts every year for the start of hockey. Since I just started posting though, I figured there’s no better way to introduce my love as a fan for the sport.

So am I here to analyze all the NHL teams and give you a break down of how I think they’ll do? No. Not at all. If this was solely a hockey blog, I might do that. Instead I’ll let you know what I know about my favorite team and maybe throw in some things I’ve heard. My favorite NHL club is the Pittsburgh Penguins (our minor league team is affiliated with them so they became my favorite by default). Basically the story for Pittsburgh this season goes like this, new management, new coach, new staff, same core superstars, and a few new off-season additions. As a fan I’m hoping all this newness translates onto the ice. Hopefully it will be in the form of some changes in the style of play because in recent years it’s been effective during the season but not in the playoffs. In the past few years the Pens played a dump-and-chase style of hockey, meaning they would toss the puck into their offensive zone and try to win possession of the puck by engaging in puck battles. I’ve heard the style is effective if executed well, and it has been, but only at times. In the playoffs it seemed that the Pens played a much slower game than opponents using this style of play. As a result they haven’t made a Stanley Cup Final since 2009 when they actually won the holy grail of hockey (the dump-and-chase was effective then). I hope the new organizational changes translate to the minor league team as well. We’ll see what happens. So far I haven’t noticed many style changes at least from the minor league team perspective (I saw a pre-season game), but that could change.

As I got into hockey I started to notice some other teams/players that I took a liking to. One of those was the Chicago Blackhawks. It didn’t end up being a bad choice to like them either as the year I started paying attention to them they won a Stanley Cup (2010). It was their first since 1961. They also won another cup in 2013 and have been making the playoffs since the 08-09 season. In general though, the teams that I like other than the Pens tend to be more Western Conference teams (the Anaheim Ducks and the LA Kings are pretty fun to watch). That might be because as a Pens fan I dislike a lot of rivals from the East (the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals). Either that or I’m just a big fan of the west (if you know me you’ll say this is the reason)?

Okay so 2014-2015 season here’s a little of what I’ve heard.

1. The Washington Capitals seem to be going through some organizational revitalization after many promising seasons with no championship results.

2. Look to the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers to do better than they have the past few years.

3. The Toronto Maple Leafs will still suck.

4. (Opinion) I expect something big out of the Minnesota Wild after the playoff run they put together last season.

5. (Opinion) I also expect the Flyers to be better than in the years since their Finals run in 2010. They might not make playoffs, but I expect them to at least push for a spot.

6. The NY Rangers will suck (okay I didn’t hear this, nor do I think it but I’m sure if I asked my friend Mike who is a Rangers fan this is what he’d tell me).

7. Expect good years from Chicago, LA, and Anaheim.

For now, that’s all I’ve got. If you know something I don’t about these teams or any other teams please let me know (comments please!). I like hockey and I definitely love to hear some hockey talk.

Finally I think I should at least do a Stanley Cup Finals/Champion pick just for the hell of it. Overall, I expect the Western Conference to reign superior once again. Their style of play seems way more fast paced and goal-scoring oriented than the Eastern Conference teams, but who knows maybe the Pens will put some sort of crazy run together so I can purchase another championship tee shirt.

Cup Final: Anaheim Ducks vs. Washington Capitals (Dream Final: Any team (okay maybe except the Hawks as I would feel conflicted) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins)

Champion: Anaheim Ducks (Dream Champion: Pittsburgh Penguins)

So good luck to all the pro hockey teams out there starting their seasons this week/tonight. According to “Badger” Bob Johnson, “It’s is a great day for hockey!” I agree. And so is tomorrow. Let’s go Pens!