Anyone who was at Saturday night’s Rangers home opener, a 5–2 victory over the Senators, could tell you that the pregame festivities were underwhelming. There was a performance by the Blue Man Group that no one this side of Tobias Fünke seemed to be inspired by, and instead of introducing players one at a time, the team took the ice together, acknowledged the fans, and lined up along the blue line until after the National Anthem. We’ve got a theory as to why.
By our count, there are three players on the current roster who would have gotten booed during introductions, which is a lot considering there are only twenty players on a team. (Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival would have heard boos for their terrible seasons last year, and Donald Brashear hasn’t yet won over a fan base still upset over him breaking Blair Betts’s orbital bone during last year’s playoffs.) By taking the ice all at once, the Rangers spared themselves that embarrassment.
This isn’t totally unprecedented: On the first opening night after the lockout, the team took the ice together, but that was coupled with a video of the players literally introducing themselves to the fans. There was none of that Saturday, since we’d imagine HD-video Wade Redden isn’t any more popular than the real Wade Redden.
We reached out to the Rangers to see if any of this played into the decision not to introduce everyone, and they had no comment. They did say that they wanted to incorporate the team’s traditional center-ice salute to the crowd, but nothing would have stopped them from introducing the team and recognizing the fans. Though we imagine that wouldn’t have left much time for the Blue Man Group.