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Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

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Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

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Anthony Greco donned a red, white and blue jersey on Thursday night at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., and played in his first game for the Rangers, the team he grew up for after inheriting his fandom from his parents, Paul and Mary Jane.

Her mother watched the game with her aunt from her home in Massapequa Park on Long Island.

His father, it is said, was probably watching from above.

Paul Greco, an FDNY firefighter of more than 20 years, died in May 2020 after a battle with several illnesses resulting from breathing toxic air at Ground Zero following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was 54 years old.

To see her son achieve his childhood dream after enduring such hardships, Mary Jane was overwhelmed. But she did not expect to feel the presence of her late husband so much.

Anthony Greco dons his hockey gear with his late father, Paul Greco.
Courtesy of the Greco family

After the first 20 minutes of the Rangers’ eventual shutout win over the Sharks, Greco had logged exactly 3:43 of ice time. 343 firefighters were killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

“We know he was watching,” Mary Jane told the Post in a phone interview Friday. “With a lot of other guys up there cheering him on.”

Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

 | Local News
Anthony Greco speaks after making his Rangers debut against the Sharks.
GMS

At around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Mary Jane received a text from her son saying he was going to make his Rangers debut that night. Rangers are in the midst of their first significant coronavirus outbreak, which has sidelined several forwards from COVID-19 protocol in recent days.

Last week, Greco was recalled from the AHL Hartford to join the Rangers taxi team. He was then promoted to the active roster two days later amid more positive tests, but was knocked out in Rangers’ loss to the Kings on Monday.

When news hit Thursday that Alexis Lafrenière had entered COVID-19 protocol, Greco entered the roster for the first time since signing with the Rangers as a free agent in October 2020. He slotted into the right wing of the third row, beating his teammates Wolf Pack, who made up the fourth unit.

Greco became the first Queens native to play for Rangers, who signed him after bouncing from the Panthers to the Lightning to the Sharks, playing primarily for each club’s minor league affiliate. The winger made his NHL debut with the Panthers in the 2018-19 season, but hasn’t played in the NHL since.

It was poetic for Greco to earn his next NHL opportunity with the Rangers, the team he used to watch with his father growing up.

“That’s all he wore were Rangers jerseys when he was little and he started skating,” Mary Jane recalled. “He absolutely did [inherit the fandom]. There was no choice in the matter. »

Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

 | Local News
Anthony Greco wore a Rangers shirt for many years before making his debut.
Courtesy of the Greco family
Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

 | Local News
Anthony Greco has become the first Queens native to play for Rangers.
Courtesy of the Greco family

Rangers were expected to have Greco on their radar shortly after the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as Paul knew his son was going to sign with the team before his death. Mary Jane, who quit working as a labor and delivery nurse at Winthrop University to care for Paul, said her husband was “over the moon” about their son becoming a Ranger.

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Paul was naturally invested in his son’s hockey career. After years of driving him to games and practices, Paul moved his family to Minnesota so Anthony could attend Shattuck St. Mary’s – a boarding school that calls itself the “Hockey Center of Excellence.”

Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

 | Local News
Anthony Greco with his mother Mary Jane
Courtesy of the Greco family

Paul was still working as a firefighter in New York, but that didn’t stop him from being there for both of his families.

“He’d be like, ‘Okay bro, I’m leaving Minnesota now, I’ll be there in 24 hours,'” said Pete Maslinski, a now-retired firefighter who worked alongside Paul at FDNY’s Squad 270. “To come to work! And I’m like, ‘What, are you crazy?’ He called himself an asphalt cowboy, listened to country music and he loved it.

The Maslinski family used to travel with the Grecos to watch Anthony play earlier in his career. They would fly to games at Ohio State, where Anthony competed for four seasons in the NCAA, as well as other colleges for games. Watching his NHL debut was one thing, but seeing Anthony hit the ice in a Rangers jersey was surreal, Maslinski said.

“We would go anywhere we could with this kid,” he added. “We have always followed him. I told everyone, I said it during my eulogy for Paul, I imitated him as a father. That’s how I tried to raise my children. He was simply the best father I have ever seen.

Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

 | Local News
Anthony Greco wears a fire helmet with the Springfield Thunderbirds.
Courtesy of the Greco family

In the grand scheme of things, Greco may be lower on the Rangers depth chart than he would like. Players will eventually come out of COVID-19 protocol, and Greco will likely be sent back to Hartford. And because the two-year contract he signed with Rangers is due to expire at the end of this season, what happens next for the 28-year-old is unknown.

But he will always have January 13, 2022, the night he was able to play for Rangers in front of thousands – and a very special man a little higher.

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

Rangers’ Anthony Greco makes his debut for his late father’s beloved Rangers

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