Stephane Matteau was sitting beside Howie Rose at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, talking about you know what, when he recalled posing for a picture with the announcer early in 1995, after that season’s NHL lockout.
“I said, ‘Who’s this guy?’ ” Matteau recalled.
Someone there told him Rose was “the guy who made the call.”
“Then I asked the person: ‘Which call?’ ” Matteau said, laughing.
Soon enough, he would learn which call, and he has been hearing and talking about it ever since.
“It really changed my life,” Matteau said of how Rose’s WFAN radio call of his double-overtime goal for the Rangers against the Devils in Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference finals enhanced history.
While Rose and Matteau have been asked separately on hundreds of occasions about May 27, 1994, and Rose’s “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call, this was the first time they spoke publicly, at length, together about it.
The occasion was an MSG Networks video shoot on the Garden ice in which the two relived Matteau’s goal, which advanced the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final, where they beat the Canucks.
MSG will show the piece next month as part of its ongoing celebration of the ’94 team’s silver anniversary. Matteau is in town this week for events to mark the occasion, including a ceremony before Friday night’s game against the Hurricanes.
MSG plans a day of programming around the ’94 team, starting at 10 a.m. with replays of Games 6 and 7 of the ’94 conference finals, then Games 4 and 7 of the ’94 Cup Final.
At 6 p.m., there will be a special episode of “Connections” featuring Mike Richter, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves, followed at 6:30 by the anniversary celebration.
Matteau, 49, scored only 11 regular-season goals in 85 games across parts of three seasons as a Ranger — one of his six NHL teams — but he forever has been embraced here.
“Every time I come to New York City, people come up to me and say, ‘I was at the game,’ ” Matteau told Newsday after the video shoot. “I don’t know why, but they always say the section, row and seat. It must be 10, 15,000 people.
“Even though I was struggling in my career and in my life, that moment changed things, because it brings a smile on my face, always. [It showed me] I was not that bad. That’s why I’m very grateful, and today I’m more grateful than I was five years ago, more than 10 years ago. It just keeps on building.”
The game-winner would have been an iconic Rangers moment regardless, but Matteau said Rose’s call has enhanced its impact on him.
“I have been linked with you for years,” Matteau said to Rose. “I don’t know your life story.”
“You’re not missing anything,” Rose interjected.
“We’re not close,” Matteau said, “but I have so much respect for him, for the call.”
Matteau hopes to leverage their bond by organizing a charity fundraising appearance with Rose.
He takes none of it for granted. He noted that if the Devils’ Valeri Zelepukin had not tied it with 7.7 seconds left in regulation, none of this would be happening.
“This is something I cherish and I take pride in,” he said. “How do I give back? Because there are a lot of hockey fans out there, they want to take pictures of me and I’m sure of [Rose]. What do I do with that? Do I just walk away and pretend that it never happened? I give them the respect.”
In recent years, Rose and Matteau have texted each other every May 27 to commemorate their shared moment. Matteau did the hard part, but Rose provided the punctuation.
“What’s nice about this relationship, such as it is, is that yeah, we’re linked together for life now, which is great, and it’s for the best of reasons for both of us,” Rose said.
Rose initially feared he had blown the call because he seemed out of control, but by the time he arrived home that night, he knew that even for those who watched on TV, the radio replays were resonating.
When Matteau mentioned the picture of him posing with the radio guy he did not know months after the goal, Rose whipped out his phone and there it was, a quarter-century later.
“Howie,’’ Matteau said, “you need to send that to me.”
And so he did.