With the sixth pick of the 2004 NHL Draft, the Rangers drafted the man you see above, Al Montoya, goalie from the University of Michigan.
At the time, all Rangers fans were very excited.
With Mike Richter's career coming to a close and Dan Blackburn's future uncertain, we were looking at a future with Mike Dunham or Kevin Weekes.
Not good times.
But then we drafted this American goalie, a little reminiscent of our last great American goalie as they both had played very well for Team USA (Montoya in the World Junior Championship), and we all were pumped.
Of course, while Montoya was in his final season at Michigan after being drafted, some Swedish dude who was backing up Weekes started playing really well, and by last year's trading deadline King Henrik had turned Montoya from potential franchise cornerstone into a very nice trade chip.
We dealt him along with Marcel Hossa for Freddie Sjostrom and some prospects, and so ended Montoya's Rangers career. However he'll always be one of my boys.
Back in the summer of '05, after the lockout, the Rangers held an event at the Garden to rally the fans together. There we were able to get a free ticket voucher to a game—and almost as importantly, take pictures and get autographs from such legends as Rod Gilbert plus Sam and JD.
Since besides Jagr there weren't any real holdovers from the prelockout team (I think Rucinsky and Ortmeyer were the only other guys who were Rangers and played more than 30 games in 03-04, Kasparminus and Poti don't count because they sucked), they had prospects there to hang out with the fans.
Those propsects were Hugh Jessiman, Rick Kozak, and Al Montoya.
I had brought a puck with me and after not too much deliberation, decided Montoya was going to be my boy. We took a picture together and talked for a couple of minutes about his future as at the time he was still deciding between going back to Michigan or joining the Rangers organization. Then he signed my puck and he's been one of my boys ever since.
Why is this relevant at all? Because he just recorded his first career NHL shutout, as Phoenix beat Colorado 3-0 tonight. Congratulations, Al.