STAMFORD, Conn. -- Twenty years is a long time between Stanley Cup final appearances for New York Rangers fan Len Gambino.
"It's been a rough 20 years," Gambino said Monday with a shake of his head about the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. That was also their last appearance in the finals until this year. "The last 20 years have been agony, but this year they are on a good run."
On Wednesday, that two-decade wait ends as the Rangers face off against the Los Angeles Kings in Los Angeles in the best-of-seven series for the NHL championship.
Gambino works at Instant Replay Sports at 1054 Hope St. The business, a major hockey retailer in Stamford, has been selling a steady supply of Rangers jerseys during the playoff run.
But Gambino had been fearful earlier. He didn't think the Rangers would get out of the second round of the playoffs after they fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, three games to one.
"We had gloomy faces around here to be honest. How were we going to beat Pittsburgh three times?"
But a series victory over the Penguins followed by an Eastern Conference win over the Montreal Canadiens landed the Rangers into the finals. Gambino's co-worker, Taylor Considine, is sky high and confident.
"I think they are going to win," he said. "They are hot right now, and they have a lot of momentum."
Across the street at Skate Zone Pro Shop at Stamford Twin Rinks at 1063 Hope St., George Comesana said he's hoping the Rangers will win, too.
"It will make a lot of people who I know that come here very happy," said the pro shop manager. "This is Rangers land."
Comesana, who said he became a hockey fan - and New Jersey Devils fan - about 18 years ago when he flipped the channel one day and saw the Devils play, wouldn't be disappointed to see the Kings win, either. He knows the team's star goalie, Jonathan Quick, who has given clinics at Twin Rinks and also is the son-in-law of Skate Zone manager Mike Backman.
"If the Kings win, I will be happy for Jonathan. So I have mixed feelings, but either way, I will win," he said with a smile.
How does it feel to be a Devils fan when the manager's son-in-law is a star with the Kings and he's living in Rangers Land?
"A hockey crowd is a rough crowd," Comesana said with a laugh. "We can dish it out and take it, too."