“No Easy Victories” Review: A Deep Dive into ESPN’s New Documentary on the 1994 New York Rangers; Old Material Given a New Twist, The Legacy of Officer Steven McDonald; Why His Badge #104 Belongs in The Rafters of M$G, The Real Core Four Speaks Out, 2024 Blueshirts Break-Up Day & More

“No Easy Victories,” ESPN’s new documentary about the 1994 New York Rangers, will soon be available to stream on their streaming service over at ESPN+, and starting on June 4th. Original Photo Credit: ESPN

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Yes, I’m still not over the 2024 Eastern Conference Final (if anything, then the feelings of anger and depression have only intensified – as I haven’t hit the “acceptance stage” yet) – but alas – we press on.

And in case you missed my obituary/post-mortem on the 2023-24 New York Rangers, then you can find it below here:

NYR/FLA ECF G6 Review & Season Post-Mortem: “The Team of Destiny” Meets Their Fatal Fate; Only CZAR IGOR Plays Great, Verbal Violence Regarding “All Talk In NY;” Finger-Pointing at Every Scapegoat, The 2023-24 Obituary, Quick Off-Season Thoughts; Who Stays (CZAR IGOR, Lindgren & Schneider) & Who Has To Go (Kakko, Mika & Trouba), Lavy’s Curious Coaching Calls & Drury’s Dubious Deadline Can’t Be Ignored; The Never-Ending BFF Line RW Du Jour, The Thought of Doing This All Over Again, Allaire & More

There was no other Ranger that was as close with Steven McDonald, and his family too, as the man that I’ve previously dubbed as a “Saint” on this site – Saint Adam Graves – and a legendary #9 who I believe deserves a statue outside of M$G too. Photo Credit: NYR

At the risk of tooting my own horn and/or sounding egotistical (what a way to begin!), when it comes to Steven McDonald, and the award in his namesake – then I don’t think that there is any other fan, writer, whoever, that promotes the “Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award” harder than yours truly.

(That is, perhaps outside of the McDonald family themselves – but even that’s up for debate!)

Heck, and if you’re not aware (but you’ll soon read all of it below), then in my first book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden,” I championed for the Rangers to hang a #104 banner from the rafters of M$G – and in honor of the police badge that McDonald once wore.

McDonald’s life, his legacy and his passion for the Rangers, is also why I’m very quick on this site to berate and shoot down any anti-NYPD (and all police for that matter) junk on this site – and where such hysteria against our brave men and women in blue reached a fever pitch during the warm months of 2020.

And the archives of this site don’t lie (just check my writings from May 2020 through October 2020 for all of it) – and quite frankly – I was absolutely disgusted (and still am about it) when I saw my fellow “Blueshirt Brethren” take an anti-NYPD stance during that period of time.

After all, these were the same people that also once cheered whenever McDonald, and later his family in his memory, annually presented the most prestigious award, solely exclusive to a Ranger, during every home finale of the season.

This little preamble is my way of saying that going into “No Easy Victories,” then I wasn’t really looking forward to watching it – and for these three reasons:

One – Having suffered for the past thirty-years without seeing the Blueshirts hoist the Stanley Cup, then in a way – I’m now anticipating “19-94” to soon be chanted in a derisive tone – and in the same way that “19-40” once was.

In other words, and at this point, then listening to Ranger fans boast about 1994 is now the equivalent of pesky and putrid Islander pukes screaming about their dynasty from now over forty years ago!

Two – By now, and I guess the exception here is that if you’re really young, an audience/demographic that I don’t cater to whatsoever, then you’re just sick of hearing about 1994.

Between living through it (funny enough – the McDonald’s, who also lived through it, live one town over from me – and where I’m three-years older than Conor), the 9876786798 documentaries that followed, M$GN’s continual game replays, several “1994 Nights” (including the most recent one in 2019), etc – and it’s just a slap in the face at this point – as all of this is a cold reminder that the Rangers have never been able to get over the hump ever since.

Three – Having said parts one and two, then what else could ESPN present that I, or any other Blueshirts’ hardcore, didn’t know already?

If anything, then going into this doc, I felt that it was a cheap-and-quick way for ESPN to jump the gun – and produce a companion piece, a bookend if you will, for what many thought (ugh – including myself) would be the fifth Stanley Cup win in franchise history in June of 2024.

And yep – so much for that.


That all now being said – and from the opening scene of “No Easy Victories” – and then I knew that this wouldn’t be the same tired take on what now feels like an age-old topic!

“No Easy Victories,” with a run-time just short of an hour, is not only about the 1994 New York Rangers – but largely about Steven McDonald and his family too – and where going into this documentary – I had no clue that this was going to be the tie-in – and a much welcomed and pleasant surprise if I say so myself!

In a way, the documentary assumes that you have knowledge of what was then a 54-year-old curse (damn that Red Dutton – and the 1940 burning of the M$G III mortgage too!) and all of the pain and heartbreak that began for the first time in 1941 – and which then finally concluded in 1994.

While the documentary covers all of the highs-and-lows; “No Easy Victories” never gets bogged down in one story either, as it briskly and quickly gives you everything that you need to know about the franchise leading into the 1993-94 season – and then what happened during the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs too.

Hosted by Jeremy Schaap, and as produced/directed by Michael Sciallo (for the full press release, then check out: “No Easy Victories” ), the documentary features every big name from the 1994 run, including Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, Mike Keenan and Neil Smith, and among others from that time, such as the man with one of the most famous calls in all of franchise history, Howie Rose.

(And make no bones about it – Rose is one of the MVP’s of this documentary – as one of the talking heads – he speaks as a Ranger fan to Ranger fans.)

But in a unique twist, the 1994 Stanley Cup victory is somewhat the “b-story,” the backdrop if you will, as the featured family in this film are the McDonald’s.

(However, listening to the Core 4, a real core when compared to the losers of today, was a true treat too.)

By using the human element, and while also making you tear-up at times – and ESPN presented one of the best years in franchise history in a fashion that no other entity has ever done so before.

And as Ranger fans – we’re better off for it.

Additionally, I think that even non-Ranger fans, and perhaps non-hockey fans too, will enjoy “No Easy Victories” – and just because of the McDonald’s.

At this time, let me present to you the rundown from “No Easy Victories,” give you a few closing thoughts – and then share with you my McDonald chapter from my first book (published in September of 2021).

One thing, of many, that’s noticeable in the documentary, is how NYPD Captain, Conor McDonald, son of Steve, has grown up in front of our very eyes. Photo Credit: NYR

“No Easy Victories” begins in the present day, with clips from the outdoor game between the Rangers and Islanders (https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/21824/ ) – and with the Blueshirts entering Met Life Stadium on firetrucks.

(Not mentioned during this? This game will now forever be known as “THE MATT REMPE GAME” – as it was on this date, 2/18/24, where the big man in the #73 jersey made his NHL debut.)

Shown during this footage is Rangers’ captain, Jacob Trouba, with NYPD Captain, Conor McDonald – the only child/son of Steven McDonald – and as both men were entering the football stadium side-by-side.

We are then shown clips of Peter Laviolette’s pregame speech – and when he had both Messier and Keenan speak to the team prior to puck drop.

Messier, during his speech to the team, brought up the legacy of the McDonald family and then introduced the 2024 Blueshirts to both Conor and Patti Ann McDonald, the latter being Steven’s widow/Conor’s mom.

As I was watching this one day removed from the Rangers’ exit from the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs – then all I could wonder was how the McDonald family feels about these losers today?


And maybe Conor should arrest Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba, two proclaimed leaders who wore ski masks this post-season, for cashing in their game checks too!

Double Ugh!

(And yes – I wish that I watched this documentary without today’s present pain! Triple Ugh!)

As noted many times before on this site, while this 2023-24 season provided many excellent and unforgettable moments – including Rempe pounding away at Matt Martin – also unforgettable, and disappointing too, was how the season ended for this “Cup or Bust” crew. Photo Credit: NYR

As the documentary introduced us to the McDonald family, we then saw Conor reading out the line-up prior to the Rangers’ most epic finish against the Islanders from that 2/18/24 afternoon.

After that, we moved beyond that game – and into our first interview segment, of many, with Conor.

While stressing the importance of what a captain means, we’re then shown shots of both Trouba and McDonald getting dressed and prepared for their jobs – as McDonald donned his police uniform – and while “The Great Eight” threw on his Rangers’ jersey.

Flashing back to the past, and we are then introduced to Steven McDonald for the first time and where he said, when speaking about life, that there are “No Easy Victories” – hence the title of this doc.

When building up 1994, we then jump to clips of previous Ranger failures from the 1980s and 1990s – and as a spot-on Blueshirt backer poignantly remarks, “being a Ranger fan is about pain and humiliation.”

Truer words have never spoken.

After minimal shots from 1939-40, including the greatest Ranger of all-time, Frank Boucher; we then go to Howie Rose, again, one of the brightest spots of this doc, recapping and explaining the miserable lives, lives full of torture, that we lead as Ranger fans!

(Okay, he didn’t say it like this verbatim – but that’s the point he was making!)

There was also way too many Islander highlights during Rose’s explanation of Rangers’ pain – which I guess was a good move by the ESPN crew – as it just riled you up!

For more on “Saint Adam,” then check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/7622/

Following Rose’s summary of Blueshirts’ agony, we then go to Adam Graves, who brings up the “19-40” chants – mocking words that first began with the cretins who once half-filled up the Nassau Coliseum – and as opposed to the present schmucks who half-fill the IBS Arena of today.

On the chant, Neil Smith said it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up – but how he didn’t believe in curses either.

Mike Richter said that the chant gave him motivation to prove these people (sub-humans) wrong – and while clips of the 1992 Stanley Cup Playoffs were shown.

The doc says that despite all of the losing, and Ranger fans were always loyal, which then brought us to a Patti McDonald interview where she talked about her husband’s undying devotion to his beloved Blueshirts.

Conor, when speaking about his dad, said it was, “Always God, Family and Friends with him – and in that order – and sometimes God – and then the Rangers!”

“Every year there was hope that they could go all the way,” added Patti, the former mayor of Malverne, NY.

(And if you’re ever in Malverne, and have a craving for the best Italian food on Long Island, then check out “Antonio’s!” Tell them Sean sent you, and where as a response, you’ll receive, “Sean who?!?!?!”)

This then brings us to the beginnings of Steven’s life, and where Patti then talked about her then 27-year-old husband joining the NYPD in 1984.

After getting married in 1985, the McDonald’s were then soon expecting their first child, Conor.

The doc then extensively covers McDonald being shot in 1986 – while also bringing up the Rangers losing in the penultimate round of the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs too (against Montreal – who had also defeated them in the 1979 Stanley Cup Final seven-years prior).

It was then brought up how dangerous the life of a police officer was back in the mid-1980s – and go figure – especially when compared to today – as things aren’t any better for our police officers when compared to McDonald’s time.

It was then brought up that Patti was three months pregnant when Steve was shot.

Patti recaps where she was at the time (her sister’s house) and of course, her immediate and “please let him survive” reaction.

McDonald’s NYPD partner thought that he was dead, while his wife was soon told that he was paralyzed – and how all she could think was, “boom, this is your life now.”

Clips of McDonald, once recovered as best as he ever could be, and now permanently in a wheelchair, are shown, and where during a press conference from that time – he said that he felt no pain – and where the soon-to-be dad asked God not to let him die.

All of this will make your eyes water.

Steven McDonald’s response to a horrific event is a testament to the human spirit – and to his religious teachings too. Photo Credit: M$GN

On January 29th, 1987, McDonald’s shooter, Shavod Jones, was sentenced (receiving the max-sentence as a juvenile); while at the same time, his wife gave birth to Conor.

At the time, Steve was still in his hospital room recovering and where he watched the birth of his son on CCTV.

Five weeks later, and now at Conor’s baptism, and Patti read a statement written by Steven, where Steven forgave Jones for what he did.

“Why does a young feller like that have a gun to begin with? I don’t think he should be blamed,” said Steve.

Patti said that her husband wanted to go on with his life and not harbor any grudges.

Conor talked about how rough it was for him growing up, as he and his father couldn’t do normal son/father activities – but how their love of the Rangers bonded them forever.

“Going to Ranger games was something that they could do together,” said Patti. “It was their time where they could share it together.”

Graves then talked about seeing the McDonald men at games and about how much passion that they had. Richter said that he’d see them all the time by the zamboni area and how Steven would always give him a wink.

One of the greatest saves, if not the greatest, in Rangers’ history. And like everyone else, Richter also came off very well in this documentary. Photo Credit: NHL.com

Clips of Sam Rosen and John Davidson are shown introducing the first ever Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. (Jan Erixon, in 1988, was the first recipient.)

“The New York Rangers have given us the highest degree of honor and generosity,” said Steve, as clips from other award ceremonies are displayed to us.

Saint Adam Graves then talked about what this award meant.

We then jump to the Fall of 1992 where the best trade in franchise history – Mark Messier, from Edmonton, to New York, was made.

(For every detail on this trade, then check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/ )

The absolute, and hands-down, best captain in all of sports’ history, Mark Messier. Photo Credit: NYR

As we hit the half-way mark of the doc, we go back to Conor, who then talks about what it means for both him, and his family’s legacy, by joining the NYPD. Conor equated his current Captain title to Messier’s role as Rangers’ captain.

We then go to JD introducing Messier as Rangers’ captain in October of 1991 – and where the roof blew off of M$G at the time.

Clips displaying the legacy of “The Messiah” are shown – and his introductory press conference from 10/6/91 too.

“Steven had all the respect in the world for him [Messier],” said Patti.

“No one could believe Messier was on the team. His will to win was infectious,” said Brian Leetch.

Messier, speaking in 2024, said that he couldn’t live in fear, nor let the pressure of the perceived curse, “paralyze you.”

The 1991-92 Presidents’ Trophy clincher is shown – and sadly – also the Ron Francis (Penguins) goal scored against Mike Richter which then led to the Rangers’ demise that year.

“I was scared of failing, I was scared of not producing,” said Messier, who then reiterated, “but you can’t let it paralyze you.”

The absolute failure that was the 1992-93 season was then brought up and where as Howie Rose accurately summed it up, “was as Ranger as you could ever see.”

Enter Mike Keenan, who was hired on 4/17/1993.

Due to the passage of time, and the thirty-years of failure that’s followed since 1994 – and Mike Keenan is now remembered as both a hero and as a legend – and two labels that you wouldn’t use when describing him in the Summer of 1994. Two adjectives that people used back then? “Traitor” and “Coward.” Photo Credit: NHL

Messier, when asked about Keenan’s arrival, just laughed and smiled, as clips of “Iron Mike” acting like a mad man were shown.

“At the time I had been in the Finals three of the nine years that I was in the NHL,” said Keenan. “I thought I knew what was necessary to win the Stanley Cup.”

“The feeling within our locker room was BRING IT ON,” said Richter when asked about Keenan first becoming head coach.

The Rangers’ domination of the 1993-94 regular season was then talked about, while on 4/4/94, Messier was given the Presidents’ Trophy, while at the same time – Adam Graves won the McDonald Award – his third of an eventual five (see below).

And man oh man – and I must reiterate this – how much has Conor grown up in front of our very eyes?

“I was lucky to win the award. My dad was so proud. He was so proud that I was able to stand alongside a true hero,” said Graves about McDonald, as these two men were both sons of police officers.

Graves then talked about his relationship with both McDonald and his family, as photos and videos between Graves and the McDonald’s, illustrating their ever-lasting friendship, are shown.

Conor then talked about watching the Rangers/Isles first-round series with a bunch of Islander fans – and how he was the only one cheering for the Blueshirts throughout the whole sweep.

The five-game dominance over the Capitals is then quickly glossed over.

And then, the easy part was over too.

Enter the Devils and the 1994 Eastern Conference Final.

You may be familiar with the name of Stephane Matteau! Photo Credit: NHL.com

Like any good movie, and “No Easy Victories” presents the heels of this story, the Devils, as both strong and formidable villains.

The Game 4 ECF loss, and Richter being pulled, was then discussed. Ditto Keenan’s decision of stapling Leetch to the bench.

“You have to ask him, I’m not touching that,” said Graves, while laughing, about Leetch’s benching.

“Just jump on the ice,” was what Brian Leetch recalled, as Jay Wells told him as much. “I can’t believe this was happening,” added the greatest Ranger blue liner of all time.

“What are we doing, blowing the series on purpose?” pondered GM Neil Smith – and a general manager who wasn’t happy about the team’s Game 5 loss, which as a result, put the Rangers in a 3-2 series hole.

Up next – the most famous guarantee in not only Rangers’ history – but in all of sports – and one that at the time – also arguably outweighed Babe Ruth once famously calling his shot.

As we hit the homestretch of the documentary, we’re then shown Conor McDonald – now as a father himself – while addressing Ranger fans prior to the 2024 McDonald Award (Vincent Trocheck won it) – seven-years after Steven’s passing at the age of 59-years-old.

(Not really discussed here – but just so you know – Graves gave the eulogy at McDonald’s funeral.)

“I truly believed it myself,” said Messier when asked about his Game 6 guarantee. “Who’s in with me?”

After that, the storybook Hollywood movie that was Game 6 was then exhibited for us.

“I know what Richter thought. ‘Gee he’s going to pull me,’ but I didn’t think about that for a minute,” said Keenan.

And what’s lost from that Game 6 is how Richter carried the Rangers long before “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” ever happened.

As Conor recollected that night, we then saw the Rangers commence their Game 6 comeback, where again, was all kicked off by Richter’s heroics in net.

Then it happened – Mark Messier delivered on his guarantee – via his empty-net abetted hat trick.

“He had the whole city on his shoulders,” said Conor, “and he goes out and gets a hat trick!”

In words somewhat eerie and ironic today, a fan is shown saying prior to the do-or-die Game 7, “I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1957. This is their year!”

Today, and you have season ticket holders going all the way back to 1995 saying the same thing.


I’ve shared this story many times before on this site! This email comes from reader Mike K.

In-attendance for Game 7 was Steven and Conor. “It was a real comfort seeing them,” said “The Messiah.”

The documentary then highlights many of Richter’s big saves – saves still so illuminating to me – which is why I consider #35, and not #30, nor anybody else for that matter, as the greatest goaltender in franchise history.

Maybe one day – and CZAR IGOR can surpass Richter.

But it hasn’t happened yet.

Since nothing ever comes easy for the Rangers, not even their 1994 incarnation, then overtime was needed – and after the Devils had tied the game in regulation with just seven-seconds remaining.

And in double overtime, it happened:

“One more hill to climb baby, the Rangers are going to the final!” – as Matteau put the Devils to bed in a goal/play that no Ranger fan will ever forget.

“It was their time together, just father and son,” said Patti.

“He was all in. No matter what was on his schedule. He was going to be there for the Cup,” recalled Conor about his dad.

“That Vancouver team was much better than people gave them credit for,” said Richter. “They had Pavel Bure. They were heavy. They were tough as nails on the ice.”

“I remember being at Game 6 at the Garden watching on the big screen. They’ll win tonight said my dad. I don’t want them to win,” recalled Conor. “I want them to win at home in front of us!”

In a moment that triggered my memory, and even if it has nothing to do with this documentary, shots of the Garden, and one of the people that were hawking programs in 1994 were shown. The second when I saw this vendor, I completely remembered my old teenage self and seeing this guy on a game-in and game-out basis.

Ah, what times to be alive!

For anyone who lived through this time period, then a lot of these clips will have the memories flooding back for you too.

“My mom actually came with us for Game 7,” said Conor. “I always thought I was bad luck but Conor said no you’re not,” recalled Patti.

“It was relief when we got the first one,” said Leetch on his opening goal – and where we could see the entire McDonald family behind the net too.

“It was absolute, 100%, torture,” recalled Howie Rose, who once again, spoke for every resident of Rangerstown, USA.

But then it happened.

As toilet paper and celebrations rang down to the ice after what everyone thought was game over – one more faceoff was required – and with just 1.6 seconds left.

“I went right to Bure. It wasn’t going to happen for him,” said Messier (while also recalling what the Devils had done in the series previous) – and as Craig MacTavish soon won the biggest faceoff in franchise history.

And this is when Sam Rosen installed a new curse, as he said, “and this one will last a lifetime.”

Such words have been literal ever since that game played now over 30-years-ago (June 14th, 1994).

“I couldn’t believe how many people were invested and attached into our success,” said Leetch.

“Gratitude,” said a teared-up Messier when asked about the win. Messier couldn’t even continue to answer some 30-years-later as his infamous waterworks would not stop.

“This is why sports are a great metaphor for life,” said Richter. “Like Steven’s life, all of these challenges take a great deal of effort and courage to overcome.”

“He loved his life, he loved his family, he loved the Rangers,” recalled Conor about his father. “1994 gave our family a chance to come together. It’s the best memory that I’ve ever had.”

“I thank everyone for making it possible. It makes me feel very good about New York and life,” said Steven McDonald as the documentary came to an emotional – and fitting – end.

Conor with Mats Zuccarello in 2016. Photo Credit: NYR

As you can imagine by this lengthy recap/review – then yes – I am highly recommending “No Easy Victories” to you!

And I can’t stress enough how much I liked the McDonald angle added to this topic – as it gave us a new spin and look at things.

Depending on when you read this and “No Easy Victories” premieres on ESPN at 9PM on Tuesday, June 4th, and will then be available to you whenever you want on ESPN+.

Get it watched!

My first book and you can order it on Amazon.com here: “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

To provide a companion piece to the documentary myself, below is the Steven McDonald chapter from “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

If you haven’t read it already (shame on you), then here it is:

— Steven McDonald: (1987-2017)

While Steven McDonald’s fandom of the Rangers precedes 1987, the year I have listed for you here, it was in 1987 where McDonald first became a household name among Ranger fans.

In July of 1986, a then 29-year-old McDonald was in the prime of his life. A former Navy hospital corpsman, McDonald was now a member of the New York Police Department. With the NYPD, McDonald wore the badge numbers of 15231 and 104, with the 104 number being the number that McDonald is most known for today. In his personal life, McDonald was recently married and with a child on the way.

However, McDonald’s world would change forever on July 12th, 1986.

On July 12th, 1986, McDonald, born on March 1st, 1957,  was investigating a recent string of bicycle thefts in Central Park. McDonald would soon encounter juvenile Shavod Jones, who was 15-years-old at the time. When questioning Jones about the recent robberies, McDonald noticed a sock that Jones was carrying and questioned Jones about it. In turn, Jones shot McDonald three times, with one bullet hitting McDonald above his eye, another bullet hitting his throat and the third bullet hitting his spine.

As a result of this cowardly shooting, McDonald would fortunately survive – but his life would never be the same. While McDonald recovered, he was also paralyzed from the neck down, thus making him a quadriplegic and needing a ventilator to live. If that wasn’t bad enough, then McDonald would never be able to speak the same again.

In the immediate aftermath following the shooting, McDonald, a devout Roman Catholic, would receive world-wide news coverage. Not only did Archbishop John O’Connor visit McDonald in the hospital, but President Ronald Reagan would also call the NYPD officer in order to check up on him.

Despite being paralyzed, McDonald never let this incident change his positive attitude.

With McDonald expecting a son in January of 1987 – and a child that he could never hold, play catch with, or do any other normal father-son activities with – McDonald’s spirit was never broken. In fact, he even forgave his shooter Shavod Jones.

In a statement made during his son’s baptism (Conor McDonald), Steven had his wife, Patti McDonald, read aloud the following:

“I’m sometimes angry at the teenage boy who shot me. But more often, I feel sorry for him. I only hope he can turn his life into helping and not hurting people. I forgive him, and hope he can find peace and purpose in his life.”

Throughout the rest of Steven McDonald’s life, he always reiterated that he forgave Jones and held no ill-will against him.

In 1995, nine years after Jones, sentenced as a juvenile, ruined McDonald’s life via attempted murder, Jones was released from prison. Three days later, Jones died after injuries received in a motorcycle accident in Harlem, NY.

McDonald never let his misfortune derail him. In the years that followed, McDonald frequently did public speaking, charity events, and in his leisure time – and of course – also attended Rangers games.

With McDonald now a New York City celebrity due to his highly public profile shooting; in 1988, McDonald teamed up with the Rangers to present the “Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award,” a prestigious distinction which goes to a Ranger player who “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Even in the years following McDonald’s passing, this is still the most profound award that any New York Ranger can receive. Prior to his death in 2017, Steven McDonald, at each last home game of the season, would come out himself and present a $25,000 check on behalf of the Ranger player who won the award. In addition, whoever won the award would also receive a trophy from McDonald himself.

At this time, let me present to you all of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award winners:

Adam Fox         2020–2021

Mika Zibanejad         2019–2020

Mika Zibanejad         2018–2019

Henrik Lundqvist     2017–2018

Mats Zuccarello     2016–2017

Mats Zuccarello     2015–2016

Cam Talbot         2014–2015

Mats Zuccarello     2013–2014

Ryan Callahan         2012–2013

Ryan Callahan         2011–2012

Brandon Prust         2010–2011

Ryan Callahan         2009–2010

Ryan Callahan         2008–2009

Brandon Dubinsky    2007–2008

Jed Ortmeyer         2006–2007

Henrik Lundqvist     2005–2006

No award presented     2004–2005

Jed Ortmeyer         2003–2004

Matthew Barnaby     2002–2003

Sandy McCarthy       2001–2002

Sandy McCarthy         2000–2001

Adam Graves         1999–2000

Adam Graves         1998–1999

Wayne Gretzky         1997–1998

Brian Leetch         1996–1997

Mark Messier         1995–1996

Mark Messier         1994–1995

Adam Graves         1993–1994

Adam Graves         1992–1993

Adam Graves         1991–1992

Jan Erixon         1990–1991

John Vanbiesbrouck and Kelly Kisio     1989–1990

Tony Granato         1988–1989

Jan Erixon         1987–1988

On January 10th, 2017, and at the age of 59-years-old, McDonald passed away from complications resulting from the shooting from over thirty years prior. McDonald’s funeral was a public event, with many Rangers and members of the alumni attending.

Through and through – and McDonald was NYPD blue – and Rangers’ blue too.

His bravery and courage while enduring a devastating disability was an inspiration for all, earning the admiration and friendship of many Rangers players and ex-Rangers such as Adam Graves, who was one of McDonald’s closest friends. Graves, a five-time winner of the award, gave one of the eulogies at McDonald’s funeral.

In the time since his passing, McDonald’s legacy lives on – not only through his award – but with his badge too.

During the 2019 NHL Entry Draft Lottery, McDonald’s son, Conor McDonald, gave Rangers’ General Manager Jeff Gorton the badge of his father as a good luck charm. As a result, the Rangers jumped up in the draft lottery, where the franchise wound up with the second-overall pick of that year’s draft. In turn, the Rangers would select Kaapo Kakko.

A year later, and now during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft Lottery, Conor McDonald would lend Jeff Gorton his father’s badge again.

With only a 12.5% chance at the first-overall pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the badge once again brought Gorton and the Rangers good luck.

As a result, the Rangers would land the top pick this time around, a draft pick that the team would then use to select Alexis Lafreniere.

If anything, then moving forward, perhaps the McDonald family can one day lend the badge to the Rangers during a Stanley Cup Playoffs run!

I also want to go as far as saying this – I would have no problem with the Rangers retiring #104 in their rafters in memory of Steven McDonald. McDonald’s life story should be known by all future generations of Rangers fans.

Simply put: It would be great – and deserved – to see McDonald’s name in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.

Steven McDonald led a life in which we can all be inspired. Personally, as a Rangers fan who is often upset with how the Rangers forget their past – I’m happy to see that the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award lives on. This award should last forever.

It will be interesting to see what these two have to say about the Rangers’ post-season collapse. Photo Credit: NYR

I don’t want to derail a positive-thinking blog with negativity.

So for now, I will just tell you that the 2023-24 Blueshirts have scheduled their break-up day for this Tuesday (6/4).

As previously noted – I don’t expect many bombshells to come out of this.

Instead, I expect a whole lot of “we have to be better,” “we know what we have to do now,” and other such blah-blah-blahs from the realm of white-noise-nothingness.

I’ll return tomorrow night with a recap of what was said – and ugh – yes, some thoughts about the 2024 Stanley Cup Final too – now featuring Kris Knoblauch, head coach of the Western Conference Champions, the Edmonton Oilers – and a man who began this season as the coach of the Rangers’ AHL affiliate – the Hartford Wolfpack.

The pain.

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

My fourth title and tenth book is now available!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for sale!

For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at Amazon.com

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:


For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com

For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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