Rangers’ Anthony Greco debuts for late father’s beloved Rangers

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Anthony Greco pulled on a crimson, white and blue jersey Thursday evening at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and skated in his first recreation with the Rangers, the workforce he grew up rooting for after inheriting his fandom from his mother and father, Paul and Mary Jane. 

His mother watched the sport along with his aunt from her dwelling in Massapequa Park on Long Island. 

His dad, all people says, little doubt watched from above. 

Paul Greco, a FDNY firefighter of greater than 20 years, died in May 2020 after a battle with a number of sicknesses ensuing from respiratory poisonous air at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist assaults. He was 54. 

To watch her son fulfill his childhood dream after enduring such hardship, Mary Jane was overwhelmed. But she by no means anticipated to really feel her late husband’s presence as a lot as she did. 

Anthony GrecoAnthony Greco places on his hockey gear along with his late father, Paul Greco.Courtesy of the Greco household

After the primary 20 minutes of the Rangers’ eventual shutout win over the Sharks, Greco had logged precisely 3:43 of ice time. There have been 343 firefighters killed on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. 

“We know he was watching,” Mary Jane instructed The Post in a cellphone interview on Friday. “Along with a lot of other guys up there cheering for him.” 

Anthony Greco speaks after making his Rangers debut against the Sharks. Anthony Greco speaks after making his Rangers debut in opposition to the Sharks. MSG

Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Mary Jane obtained a textual content from her son saying he was going to make his Rangers debut that evening. The Rangers are within the midst of their first vital coronavirus outbreak, which has sidelined a number of forwards to COVID-19 protocol in current days. 

Last week, Greco was recalled from AHL Hartford to hitch the Rangers’ taxi squad. He then was promoted to the energetic roster two days later amid extra constructive exams, however was scratched within the Rangers’ loss on the Kings on Monday. 

When information hit Thursday that Alexis Lafreniere had entered COVID-19 protocol, Greco drew into the lineup for the primary time since he signed with the Rangers as a free agent in October 2020. He slotted in on the proper wing of the third line, beating out his fellow Wolf Pack teammates, who made up the fourth unit. 

Greco turned the primary Queens native to ever play for the Rangers, who signed him after he had bounced from the Panthers to the Lightning to the Sharks, primarily taking part in for every membership’s minor league affiliate. The winger made his NHL debut with the Panthers in the course of the 2018-19 season, however he hadn’t gotten into an NHL recreation since then. 

It was poetic for Greco to earn his subsequent NHL alternative with the Rangers, the workforce he used to observe along with his dad rising up. 

“That’s all he wore was Rangers jerseys, when he was little and he first started skating,” Mary Jane recalled. “He absolutely did [inherit the fandom]. There was not a choice in the matter.” 

Anthony GrecoAnthony Greco wears a Rangers jersey a few years earlier than making his debut. Courtesy of the Greco householdAnthony GrecoAnthony Greco turned the primary Queens native to play for the Rangers.Courtesy of the Greco household

The Rangers should have had Greco on their radar shortly after the 2019-20 season was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic, since Paul knew his son was going to signal with the workforce earlier than he died. Mary Jane, who stopped working as a labor and supply nurse at Winthrop University to look after Paul, mentioned her husband was “over the moon” about their son turning into a Ranger. 

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Paul was naturally invested in his son’s hockey profession. After years of driving him to video games and practices, Paul moved his household to Minnesota so Anthony might attend Shattuck St. Mary’s — a boarding highschool that proclaims itself the “Hockey Center of Excellence.” 

Anthony Greco with his mother Mary JaneAnthony Greco along with his mom Mary JaneCourtesy of the Greco household

Paul was nonetheless working as a firefighter in New York, however that didn’t cease him from being there for each of his households. 

“He’d be like, ‘All right bro, I’m leaving Minnesota now, I’ll be there in 24 hours,’ ” mentioned Pete Maslinski, a now-retired firefighter who labored alongside Paul at FDNY’s Squad 270. “To come to work! And I’m like, ‘What, are you out of your mind?’ He would call himself an asphalt cowboy, listen to country music, and he loved it.” 

The Maslinski household used to journey with the Grecos to observe Anthony play earlier in his profession. They’d fly out to video games at Ohio State, the place Anthony competed for 4 NCAA seasons, in addition to to different schools for video games. Watching his NHL debut was one factor, however to see Anthony take the ice in a Rangers sweater was surreal, Maslinski mentioned. 

“We’d go anywhere we could with this kid,” he added. “We’ve followed him forever. I told everybody, I said it at my eulogy for Paul, I emulated him being a dad. That’s how I tried to raise my kids. He just was the greatest dad I’d ever seen.” 

Anthony GrecoAnthony Greco wears a firefighter helmet whereas with the Springfield Thunderbirds.Courtesy of the Greco household

In the grand scheme of issues, Greco could also be additional down on the Rangers depth chart than he want to be. Players will finally come out of COVID-19 protocol, and Greco possible shall be despatched again to Hartford. And as a result of the two-year contract he signed with the Rangers is about to run out on the finish of this season, what’s subsequent for the 28-year-old is unknown. 

But he’ll all the time have Jan. 13, 2022, the evening he received to play for the Rangers in entrance of 1000’s — and one very particular man just a little larger up. 

“Some of my favorite memories are going to game with him growing up,” Greco mentioned on the MSG broadcast. “It’s a tough situation, but I’m sure he’s happy and watching.” 

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