Rangers broadcaster Dave Maloney watches warmups in the radio broadcast...

Rangers broadcaster Dave Maloney watches warmups in the radio broadcast booth before a game against the Devils at Madison Square Garden on April 3, 2024. Credit: Brad Penner

Can it really be that 50 years have gone by?

A half-century since May 28, 1974, when the Rangers selected a 17-year-old defenseman named Dave Maloney 14th overall in the NHL Draft?

A half-century since Sept. 30, 1974, when Maloney and second-round pick Ron Greschner were dropped off for an exhibition game against the Red Wings?

Neither rookie from Canada knew where to go at Madison Square Garden, so they asked a security guard how to get to the rink.

“  ‘Go around the corner and take the elevator to the fifth floor,’  ” Maloney recalled the man saying. “We were like, ‘No, no! We want to go to the rink. We don’t want to go to the top story!’  ”

Maloney laughed.

These days, he knows his way around the Garden and its quirks quite well, thank you.

That long-ago association is alive and well in 2024 with Maloney as the Rangers’ lead radio analyst, with all sorts of stuff in the decades between.

“To this day, I have to be honest, I still walk around going, first, I can’t believe it’s 50 years,” he said. “Secondly, I can’t believe I’m still here. And thirdly, I like still being here, and I get excited to come into the city.”

All of which makes one wonder how life might have been different had another team drafted the construction worker’s son from Ontario.

The Canadiens had five first-round picks that year, and Maloney thought he might go to Montreal. But no.

He would not have been drafted at all in any other year. But in 1974, the NHL lowered its minimum draft age in response to competition from the WHA.

So here he is.

Maloney thinks about his years as the Rangers’ youngest captain, playing in the 1979 Stanley Cup Final, two decades on Wall Street and 19 years on radio, raising four children in the New York area and now with four grandchildren, too, and says this:

“It’s just funny how life is. There’s the chaos theory, right? Where if moments in the past had gone another way, where would life have taken you? We don’t know. It’s only surmising or conversation. But it’s good, there’s no question.”

Maloney played four regular-season games in December 1974 at age 18. By 1976-77, he was a regular. By ’78-79, he was a 22-year-old captain.

The ’79 team became one of the most popular non-Cup-winners in franchise history, winning an epic six-game semifinal against the Islanders before losing the Final in five games as the Canadiens won their fourth Cup in a row.

Those Rangers were a pop culture phenomenon. Maloney that year alone was part of two famous videos — a Sasson jeans commercial and “Hockey Sock Rock,” a song written by Alan Thicke as a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes research.

“It was a magical mystery,” Maloney said of that run.

The Rangers closed out the Islanders on May 8, after which they set off for . . . where else? Studio 54.

“It wasn’t my style, but it was fun,” Maloney said. “I would say I don’t remember a lot of it. I’m sure I had some adult beverages, but it was just the whole thing.”

The outing hit the papers the next day. “We were a young, pretty charismatic, fun group,” Maloney said.

It went on for years.

In January ’84, Wayne Gretzky was set for a bit in which he took shots at David Letterman during his late-night show. Gretzky canceled, so Maloney filled in.

Stuff happened on the ice, too. Take this doozy from Oct. 28, 1979: Maloney, 23, got called for a coincidental minor penalty for slashing against the Whalers. The other slasher? Gordie Howe, then 51.

“He’s joked about that, that he was thinking to himself, ‘If I punch this guy or get into a fight with him, I’m going to get criticized for fighting a grandfather,’  ” said Kenny Albert, Maloney’s longtime play-by-play partner. “  ‘But if I let him get the best of me, I got beat up by Gordie Howe.’  ”

Maloney retired in 1985 after a brief stint with the Sabres, then launched a second successful career in finance, where he was an institutional sales trader.

But even then, he started dabbling in media, notably as a studio analyst for Fox in the ’90s, a job for which he beat out Islanders star Denis Potvin.

A decade later, Maloney’s brother Don, then a Rangers executive, told him the team was looking for a new radio analyst. Dave got the job and started with the post-lockout 2005-06 season.

“Dave’s the best,” Albert said. “Couldn’t ask for a better partner. He just works so hard, knows the game in and out, bleeds Ranger blue.”

Maloney loves the job. He described a pampered travel life that affords him time for reading and crossword puzzles.

“I have teachers’ hours, basically, the summers off, and I get paid better,” he said with a laugh.

But he takes the job seriously and is an avid preparer and self-critic.

“The thing I’m most impressed with about him is he’s had three distinct different careers,” Albert said. “Just to be at the top level of three different professions like that is really amazing to me.”

Maloney also is a people person, as illustrated by a part-time job he took during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bored and feeling cooped up at home, he

saw a help wanted sign at Continental Fine Wine & Spirits near his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and applied for and got a job stocking shelves.

It took owner Mike Sabatino a week to catch on that this was no ordinary stocker.

“He says, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’  ” Maloney remembered. “I said, ‘Well, it never really came up.’  ”

Maloney worked at the store until January of this year.

“I’ve tried to go my own way, tried to do my own thing,” he said. “I enjoy the recognition [from fans]. I really do. It’s fun.”

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