In my native Brooklyn, which NYPD Detective Steven McDonald knew so well, he would have simply been described as “a good guy.”
Or, as my Dad, would have put it in his own, inimitable terminology, “Steven was a prince!”
Speaking firsthand, I have only the sweetest thoughts about this New York hero who died shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.
For too many years for me to remember, The Detective and The Maven would meet periodically before Rangers games.
Naturally, we’d share our common love — hockey — and talk about the Rangers and The Game.
I like to hang out in the Zamboni area where there’s peace and quiet before the opening face-off. As I suspect that it was for Steven and his family, it was a kind of meditating hang-out for me.
That also was where Detective McDonald, his wife, Patricia Ann and their son, Conor, would be camping with Steven in his special wheelchair with the breathing-respirator device he needed to continue functioning.
“You’re looking good,” the Detective would say, always with a smile on his face. “Do you think we’ll win tonight?”
Naturally, I would answer in the affirmative because, after all, McDonald was as devoted a Rangers fan as he was revered by the NYPD in which he so valiantly served.
My closeness to Detective McDonald was magnified in a geographic sense since he was victimized in 1986, not far from where I live and precisely in an area where I have endlessly pedaled my two-wheel mountain bike in Central Park.
The paralyses came about after Steven was shot by a teen bicycle thief in the park. His wife, Patricia Ann, was three months pregnant at the time of the tragedy.
As New Yorkers followed the saga, it was touch and go whether the Detective would survive, but he battled through the adversity and — with the help of a respirator and wheelchair — was able to recover enough to travel.
Among his assignments was visiting assorted police precincts across the five boroughs addressing young cops.
The wheelchair and respirator also enabled Steven to come to Rangers games, where he invariably was hailed by Blueshirts fans and, in turn, delivered his good wishes to one and all. He remained a beacon of strength and inspiration to all.
Nothing said it better about the devotion shared by the hockey club and the policeman than the Blueshirts statement that Steven “was a cherished member of the Rangers family.”
To say that Detective McDonald exemplified the true meaning of the word hero says it all about a man — a friend — to all of us in the hockey community.
I will miss our regular pre-game rendezvous and will be thinking about my cop pal on Friday night before the Rangers take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
May the beloved Steven McDonald rest in peace.