Steve Serby

Steve Serby


Dave Maloney believes Rangers have tools to remake 1994 magic: ‘Don’t quit on them’

Former Rangers captain Dave Maloney, now an analyst for the team’s ESPN radio broadcasts and also contributes to the MSG Network’s television coverage, takes a timeout for some Stanley Cup playoffs Q&A with Post columnist Steve Serby.

Q: Do you see similarities to the ’94 team?

A: I do. It’s tough to say because as time would go on, Mike Richter’s a U.S. Hall of Famer, Brian Leetch is a Hall of Famer, Mark Messier’s a Hall of Famer, Glenn Anderson’s a Hall of Famer. And you look at [the current] team and you go, “All right, they got a chance with [Igor] Shesterkin, there’s a chance with [Adam] Fox, there’s a chance with [Artemi] Panarin.” If it was left up to the Ranger fans, it could be [Chris] Kreider or maybe the local phenomenon [Matt] Rempe (laugh), he might be a Hall of Famer according to the locals. I do think that this team is a little deeper when it comes to talent. The game has changed, the athlete has changed even from ’94, but I do think there’s more talent. Now is there an Adam Graves? Is that Kreider? Maybe. Is there a Messier? Is that [Jacob] Trouba? Maybe. But it’s tough to compare because those guys actually won it, right? This is more of a group too that’s grown together. That team was taken apart basically at the trade deadline. I think this team is a little more talented, a little deeper skilled.

Q: What do you like best about this Rangers team?

A: I just really like how they just manage the next game, the next shift, the next period. I remember talking to Peter Laviolette when he was introduced to the media, how he said the attitude was starting today.

Q: What is it about Laviolette that has enabled his voice to resonate with this group?

A: From my observation, I just think the way he treats people, the way he treats men, the way he treats the families. He’s a real people person. And he’s loyal.

Q: What stands out to you about Kreider?

A: The evolution of his game. He was always a powerful man. I think he’s really figured out how to use his power. He’s a very cerebral guy. His ability to over time use his assets to be a very, very, very good hockey player.

New York Ranger Dave Maloney attends the 2013 -2014 NHL & NBA Season Kick Off MSG Networks’ Celebration at Penthouse at the Park on October 1, 2013 in New York City. Getty Images

Q: Adam Fox?

A: His hockey IQ is off the chart.

Q: Mika Zibanejad?

A: An evolution to a world-class player. I think there was a point where people wondered whether Mika really wanted it enough to validate his skill sets. He’s a very eclectic guy, he’s got a lot of interests, he’s smart, and he’s sensitive. It’s just another evolution of a world-class player that can do everything for you.

Q: Vincent Trocheck?

A: Trocheck is the glue I think upfront. He’s the guy that they needed that was going to stick his nose in when his nose needed to be stuck in.

Q: Alexis Lafreniere?

A: A budding world-class player that people were impatient with him, but it was easy to see that he just needed time. He is the next superstar on this team.

Q: Artemi Panarin?

A: Adam Fox upfront (laugh). He’s an elite player because he sees the game and feels the game like the elite players do.

Q: Shesterkin?

A: Where would we be without him (laugh)?

Q: What makes him so special?

A: From a technical standpoint, his ability to never chase a save. He’s in the position to make it.

Q: Trouba?

A: Leader. A total leader.

Q: Rempe?

A: His skill sets for a man that big are going to give him a chance to have an NHL career. He’s a bit of a freak (laugh) … a guy that big can move the way he moves and then has that kind of fire, right? When you’re getting hit by him, you’re gonna be hit hard, he gets there in a hurry.

Q: Who could be an unsung hero?

A: How about Kaapo Kakko? I just think he’s had a hard time figuring out his role, and that line is really effective. But they need a little more offense from them, and I think he’s the guy that has the skill set to be the difference.

Kaapo Kakko moves the puck down ice as Tony DeAngelo #77 of the Carolina Hurricanes watches in the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

Q: The Florida Panthers?

A: When we were in there at New Year’s, I thought they were the best team in the East. Their top players, they play hard like Carolina, but they have more skill. There’s not a fault line in their lineup. … I would give the nod to Shesterkin in net, but that’s not a big ole heavy nod. [Sergei] Bobrovsky can play. When you get down to the final four or the final two, boy it becomes a bit of a grindfest. I don’t think it’ll be high scoring.

Q: Who scares you?

A: [Aleksander] Barkov, [Matthew] Tkachuk, [Sam] Reinhart, [Aaron] Ekblad, [Brandon] Montour, [Sam] Bennett. … They play as hard as Carolina, but they have a bigger bite. They’re mean. They’ve got some guys that’ll chew your arm off to make a play. They also have guys that have the skill to make a play.

Q: How big will home-ice advantage be for the Rangers?

A: In a Game 7 at home with Shesterkin, regardless of who they’re playing, I like the Rangers’ chances, because of the home ice. If you ask the Rangers in ‘94 how important was Game 7 at the Garden against Vancouver, I think they’d all say pretty damn important.

Q: What does it mean to you being the youngest captain in Rangers history?

A: It’s a tag that that’s how I get introduced and get recognized as. … It’s really neat. I can’t believe that after all these years that is still something that I get identified with, and it means a lot to have been part of the history of this franchise, and it means a lot that at one point I was thought to be in the position of Jake Trouba or Mark Messier, or whoever. That’s a great honor.

Q: Describe the 1979 Cup semifinal win over the Islanders.

A: What comes to mind is how innocent we were and how much fun we had. ’79 was a magical mystery tour. J.D. [John Davidson] was unbelievable. … Anders Hedberg scored late in Game 5 out at the Coliseum. … Gresh [Ron Greschner] and [Don] Murdoch score in Game 6. And I remember the headline to The Post: “Rangers whoop it up at Studio 54” (laugh). That might have been our Stanley Cup.

Hampus Lindholm #27 of the Boston Bruins skates against Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. NHLI via Getty Images

Q: Describe losing the Cup Final to the Canadiens.

A: Just how abruptly it ends. I’ll never forget flying back on the plane from Montreal going, “Oh man, that’s it?” There was a certain emptiness, that you got there, and all the work …

Q: How did you feel hearing those “19-40” chants?

A: (Laugh) Well, it resonated quite loudly at the [Nassau] Coliseum. That was my favorite place to play … the night when they scored 10 on us and I think after eight they were getting a free chili. When you’re younger you’re like, “Ah, what’s the big deal, 1940, so what? We don’t care (laugh).” It just added to the rivalry.

Q: The “Potvin Sucks” chants at the Garden.

A: Maybe most of us were sitting there chuckling and being thankful that they weren’t yelling at us.

Q: Some of your former coaches: John Ferguson.

A: I loved Fergy. He loved us young guys. Optional in those days weren’t optional for young guys. And he would suit up and we’d scrimmage (laugh). You’d take a puck from him and he’d chop your arm off. He had that fire. I remember one time we were in Philly and something happened, and the Flyers had Bird Saleski, Moose DuPont, Hammer Schultz, “Mad Dog” Kelly — these WWE characters — and we were cowering on the bench ’cause our toughest guy was Fergy, and he was the coach.

Q: Fred Shero?

A: I was Fred’s captain and I probably talked to him over the course of two years … 10 times, maybe? Freddie was Freddie. “The Fog” was fairly appropriate (laugh).

Dave Maloney skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during NHL game action on November 20, 1982 at Maple Leaf Gardens. Getty Images

Q: Herb Brooks?

A: He was way ahead of his time in the NHL. I had my best years with Herb. I was in the best condition. He and I kind of fell out towards the end, I got traded to Buffalo, because I think his message got old. I really regret not having reached out and made more contact with him post-career. But I do remember when I got traded, he never called me, he never took me aside, or said anything. … Some guys were afraid of him, some guys it was too new-school. But Herb in his way was pretty distant. I bought into him hook, line and sinker when I started. He’s a really good example of a coach, like Torts [John Tortorella] — Torts forces you to be the best player you can be, and that was Herbie. And for that, I was thankful to play for him.

Q: Some guys resisted, right?

A: He was the first coach you ever played for that put you on an offseason conditioning program, and different things like that. … There was an older crew where you kind of worked yourself into shape. I will say I’m very proud to be a Canadian, but some of us Canadians were a little bit … self-centered that we invented the game (laugh). That there couldn’t be an American that could actually know what he was doing (laugh). Some of the guys who’d been around a little longer, their skill sets didn’t quite fit, I think maybe those guys had a little more of a difficulty with him.

Q: From your past, whatever comes to mind: Nick Fotiu.

A: I roomed with him, and I always had to sleep with one eye open, because I wasn’t quite sure what he was gonna do or what he was up to … like when he was gonna light my feet on fire, or shave-cream me or doing something like that. If Nick had grown up like we grew up in Canada, Nick Fotiu to me might have been one of the best athletes I ever played with … had he been privy to playground hockey, he would have been a helluva player.

Q: Greschner.

A: A really good player and a really good teammate and a good friend.

Q: Carol Vadnais.

A: Vad was my mentor. He was the Senator. He dressed well, he smoked a cigar and he looked like a guy who should be smoking a cigar.

Al Trautwig and Dave Maloney attend the New York Rangers unveiling the 85th anniversary jersey at The Rink at Rockefeller Center on November 12, 2010. Getty Images

Q: John Davidson.

A: J.D. from Day 1 was a man’s man. He was just a good person to everybody. And he was the best guy to sit down and have a beer with. I was wound pretty tight, and there were times where he would take me aside and say, “OK, let’s take a deep breath here.”

Q: Ron Duguay.

A: First of all to this day, I thank him for being who he was when we used to go into Philly, ’cause Philly hated him. And they would chase him around the first 10 minutes of the game, trying to goad him into a fight, they’d eventually take a penalty, we’d score on the power play and win. I thank him for having that ability to have those jackass Flyers chasing him around as opposed to the rest of us.

Q: Phil Esposito.

A: He’s a big presence, big personality, big player.

Q: Younger brother Don Maloney.

A: He might be the guy I admire the most. He was third in line, myself, my brother Bob and Don. He got the hand-me-downs, right? I always got the new skates and he got ’em third time removed. Skating was never his best ability because he probably never had a pair of skates that ever fit him. He just worked so hard. He was in the weight room well before anybody was. He took power skating first two years of pro. I was the oldest of seven, I left home when I basically 14 and he was the sibling I got to know the best by the circumstances of having to play together. I respect him probably as much as anybody I’ve ever come across.

Q: What are you proud of about the way you played the game?

A: I’m proud of the fact that I was known as a competitor. I was maybe overly emotional sometimes. I think I was most proud of the fact that I laid it out there. I did what I could.

Dave Maloney #26 of the New York Rangers collides with Charlie Simmer #26 of the Los Angeles Kings during an NHL Hockey game circa 1979 at Madison Square Garden. Getty Images

Q: Sam Rosen.

A: He lives and dies with his New York teams. He cares. He has an enthusiasm that’s really, really neat. I’ve worked so long with Kenny [Albert]. There isn’t a better broadcaster in the business than Kenny. I think all his analysts are really good because he makes you good. He like sets you up. It’s probably a little more fun working with Sam because we’re both pretty heavily invested (laugh) in the games. It’s fun to work with Sam because I think we have our interests aligned. We want this team to win. We don’t care if people think we’re homers, or whatever (laugh).

Q: Three dinner guests?

A: Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali, Willie Nelson.

Q: Favorite movie?

A: “Shawshank Redemption.”

Q: Favorite actor?

A: Tom Hanks.

Q: Favorite actress?

A: Meryl Streep.

Q: Favorite singer/entertainer?

A: Bob Seger.

Q: Favorite meal?

A: Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat.

Q: Did you go to the parade in ’94?

A: I did that parade for FOX 5. We were set up right at City Hall. I can’t comment to that sense of the Canyon [of Heroes]. There were three or four ex-guys there for Game 7 against Vancouver, I remember going into the big press room that they had behind the penalty box and President Clinton called in to congratulate Brian Leetch for winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. And I just thought that was so frickin’ cool. And I do remember too I was working on Wall Street at the time, I worked at a big trading floor, and I was a little bit late getting to work the day after, and I got a standing ovation going in to the trading floor. And to me, it was that acknowledgement that I had a small part in the history of the franchise — I was a player, I was a Ranger. And that expression “once a Ranger always a Ranger.”

Q: Paint a picture of what this town would be like if the Rangers win the Cup.

A: It’s funny, it’s such a different time with social media. … I’d have to think it’d be ’94 by a factor of 10 maybe (laugh).

Q: Describe the love affair between the Rangers and Rangers fans.

A: Hockey is a very passionate sport. You don’t really realize how passionate it is until you either played it or had a child play it. It’s as simple as it’s the one sport where you go to a locker room and you get dressed together when you’re 6. … You throw in the innateness of a New Yorker … this is an emotional city, sometimes you gotta grind it out and get to work. And I just think it’s a perfect match. The sport, it provides perhaps an outlet when you see somebody banging into somebody (laugh) or you see somebody fighting with somebody. I’ve always thought that the sport had an awful lot of things that kind of appeal to emotion and passion. Does New York have emotion and passion? I think so.

Q: You would tell Rangers fans that this team is capable of winning the Cup?

A: Yes. I would say there’s every reason to believe they have a legitimate shot as any of the teams that are left. If they don’t win, will it be fate? Probably. Because I do think they’re gonna play well enough to give themselves a chance.

Q: Your message to Rangers fans?

A: First of all, stay tuned. And secondly don’t give up irregardless of where you sense this team may be in a game, in a period. Don’t quit on them. Because they have not shown any quit on themselves.