Goodbye, River Rats

Goodbye, River Rats


Goodbye, River Rats


The Albany River Rats was an American Hockey League team that existed in New York’s capital region for 20 years. Growing up an Adirondack Red Wings fan, I hated the River Rats who played an hour south on the Northway. The Red Wings and Devils’ affiliates had a heated rivalry that died when the Red Wings packed up shop in 1999.

My feelings toward the Rats softened when I moved to Albany to attend college in 2001. The Wings had been gone for a couple years by then, so the jealous memories of the River Rats 1995 Calder Cup had faded.

I’d say the closest I came to being a Rats’ fan came in 2003 when I attended a game to play broom hockey between periods as part of the newspaper staff. Some friends and I pre-gamed before taking the ice in the then Pepsi Arena. I fell down multiple times, cracking my head and getting a concussion that would go undetected by anyone but me a few days later. That night I stole a t-shirt from Rowdy the River Rat, walked into the side of a dormitory, beat up a cardboard cutout of a Molson girl, and finally hooked up with a girl and threw up in her bathroom. Looking back, I’m pretty lucky I woke up the next day, but my head hurt so bad I wanted to die.

The last time I went to a River Rats game was the season before last. Stepping over a row of seats my pants split from a hole in the knee to above the pocket during the first period. I had to walk around the rest of the night holding my jeans together while my roommate and girlfriend made fun of me. It was a slight bit more traumatic, but at least my head wasn’t pounding.

Why am I telling you these stories? I didn’t attend a ton of River Rats’ games, but they were  a small part of my life, for most of my life. Its just not going to be the same if the Rats aren’t  in town. Minor league teams become a part of smaller cities like Albany. I guess this is me trying to imagine the landscape of my city a little different. And while a video of a guy in a rat costume shouldn’t make me nostalgic, it kind of does. Don’t go, Rowdy.

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