Rangers, Garden Lose a Legend in John Amirante

Over the decades, Madison Square Garden has been blessed with legendary musical personalities connected with the Rangers.

At the old Garden, it was Gladys Goodding at the organ console who played for decades and also was an engaging, lovable personality.

At the new Garden, John Amirante emerged as an anthem-singing favorite whose dynamic voice and enthralling style won the hearts of fans from the very top balcony seats right down to ice level.

Which is why it was so sad to learn that Amirante passed away this morning at the age of 83.

When John strode out on the mat to warble National Anthem, a hush of respect and anticipation gripped the crowd. From, “Oh, Say Can You See”… ,” to the closing “And The Home Of The Brave,” an Amirante performance was equivalent to Enrico Caruso singing “Pagliacci,” at the Metropolitan Opera.”

Any time I’d meet John in the press room, it was an event filled with New York-brand talk and fun. Even young listeners tuned in and loved Amirante on the ice, playing to the sold-out crowd.

[Read: There Will Never Be Another John Amirante]

One such Rangers fan, Gabrielle Riggi, of Edison, New Jersey, puts this way:

“Though we hear the National Anthem so many times before any sporting event, it’s not easy to perform. To do it with such strength and beauty for so many nights and to become such an iconic opening for the Rangers will leave a void where his booming tenor would easily fill every inch of the Garden. John’s presence helped connect generations of the Blueshirt faithful like my father and I. There’s a gift in music that he gave to New York.”

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.