Eighteen years later, Rangers radio announcer Howie Rose’s dramatic call of Stephane Matteau’s game-winning wraparound goal in double-overtime of Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals against the Devils still gets played over and over again on highlight reels:
Matteau!! Matteau!! Matteau!!
“I like to make a joke of it, and ask if [fans] know my first name,” Matteau said on Monday night.
The Rangers have been in existence since 1927. Yet Matteau’s goal stands as arguably the biggest one in franchise history.
“It took awhile [for me to understand how important it was],” Matteau said, “because I kept playing after that. I got traded [from Chicago at the 1994 deadline] and didn’t know anything about the history of the Rangers.
“They’ve won one Stanley Cup in 72 years. It’s not much. But I was a part of that team and I’m wearing my ring proudly.”
Matteau said he gets recognized around the Garden -- but not while walking in New York City.
“Once I’m on the street, I just look like a normal Joe,” he said.
Matteau has seen the replay of his goal several times -- always from the same angle.
“I don’t get tired of it, but I don’t put that as my ringtone, though,” Matteau said. “A lot of my friends do.”
Matteau was driving hard on the forecheck and beat Scott Niedermayer to the puck in the corner. He proceeded to swoop around the net and send a sharp-angle shot that beat 22-year-old Martin Brodeur five-hole.
The building absolutely exploded. A raucous celebration ensued. Brodeur laid on his back in the net. He was devastated.
Although Matteau and Brodeur never became close, Matteau said he’s very good friends with one of Brodeur’s closest friends in Montreal.
“I always ask about him because he’s a French goalie and I’ve played against him throughout my career,” Matteau said. “I have a lot of respect for him and he seems like a nice guy, he’s laughing in his crease all the time and there’s a reason why he’s the greatest goalie of all-time.”
Brodeur went on to become the NHL’s all-time winningest goaltender and capture three championships. He is the only player remaining on either roster from the 1994 series.
“It was weird at first, but hockey is like a boxing match -- once it’s over it’s over,” Matteau said. “Marty and the Devils recovered quite well.”
Matteau is currently coaching in the CHL with Blainville-Boisbriand, Armada.
“I called for season tickets, and I got the job,” he joked.
Matteau is excited because his son, Stefan, 18, will be joining the roster next season. He’s a top prospect and will be in the NHL draft.
Matteau said he wants to have a future in coaching, perhaps at the NHL level.
For now, though, he’ll be cheering on the Rangers as they try to beat the Devils again and advance to the Cup finals.
“I love the way they play, the sacrifice,” said Matteau, who has attend several of their playoff games already. “I’m amazed at how many players would dive in front of a puck in a desperate moment.”