“I am a Ranger!”

Hockey Fan at the Acorn


                    Elon University students usually manage to make it out to at least one sports event and cheer for their “Phoenix.” However, the students don’t manage to make it out that often to cheer for their club roller hockey team. No, the source of hockey enthusiasm doesn’t come from the students. For that, one needs to go to the Acorn Coffee Shop. Amongst the employees there is James Tykwinski, a die-hard and passionate fan of the New York Rangers hockey club.

            Tykwinski, 39, is a full-time employee at the “Acorn.” He works 40 hours per week and his only real break comes on the weekends. What keeps him going? Hockey. Moreover, watching the New York Rangers play is one of his favorite things to do. Anything somebody needs to know about the New York Rangers, should go to see Mr. Tykwinski.

            Mr. Tykwinski has been a fan of the New York Rangers since he was 10 years old, which was in 1979, the year the New York Rangers went to the Stanley Cup Finals after beating their cross-town rivals, the New York Islanders. Mr. Tykwinski, or “Jimmy” as his friends call him, knows that off the top of his head. The Rangers are that important to him. He is one of their biggest fans.

            After enjoying hockey on the weekends, Jimmy’s work week begins Monday morning at 7 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are when the Acorn gets its food delivered from its vendors, Sysco and Fresh Point. He spends the day checking in and stocking the food in the coffee shop until his shift ends at 3 p.m. Delivery days can be unpleasant for him. “I dislike cold or rainy days. Because of the lack of space, most of our 100 piece order is outside,” said Jimmy.

             Despite this he still finds ways to make his days more enjoyable. “I like working with my fellow Acorn workers. We have a good time kidding around.”

James “Jimmy” Tykwinski. Before having his photo taken, Jimmy said, “I’m a star.”

James “Jimmy” Tykwinski. Before having his photo taken, Jimmy said, “I’m a star.”



            A supervisor at the Acorn on the weekend, calls Jimmy “a very reliable, outspoken person.” The supervisor, a resident of Burlington, continued, “He always asks how you’re doing. He makes you smile every time you speak to him.”

            Tuesdays and Thursdays are a little more hectic for Jimmy. He works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, he enjoys starting these days a couple of hours later. On these days he checks the inventory of the coffee shop, takes a count of the amount of food orders needed for delivery and enters it online, and then spends the rest of the day helping to serve lunch to customers.

            After work, he heads home to watch the Rangers game. If the Rangers aren’t playing, he’ll usually watch another hockey game. He doesn’t watch the games on TV though. Tykwinski used to watch games on NHL Center Ice, but prefers to go online now where he can watch games on websites, such as www.justin.tv and www.myp2p.eu, in nearly as good quality for free.

            Why is Jimmy such a big fan of the Rangers? The answer seems to be closely tied to his long history with the team. Most importantly, the New York Rangers were the first professional sports team Jimmy saw play live. He is also a fan of the Rangers for many other reasons including that they play at Madison Square Garden, wear classic and traditional uniforms and are one of the “Original Six” hockey clubs, who were the only six teams (Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Rangers) to play in the National Hockey League from 1942-1967.

              Jimmy’s favorite moment in New York Rangers history was when the team won the 1994 Stanley Cup and beat out the Vancouver Canucks for the championship. Prior to that date, the last time the Rangers won a Stanley Cup was in 1940.

             “The 1994 Stanley Cup is [my] number one [moment]. [The] first one in [fifty-four] years. No more Islanders chants of fifty years,” commented Tykwinski gleefully. Fans from rival hockey clubs, such as the New York Islanders, would often taunt Rangers players and fans about their Stanley Cup drought until they won in 1994.

                Brian Leetch, who was named the most valuable player of the 1994 playoffs when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup, is Jimmy’s all-time favorite New York Ranger. Tykwinski notes that Leetch was extremely talented in registering points as a defenseman, notching 981 points in just 1,129 games as a Ranger.

               Jimmy once met Leetch and two other Ranger greats, Adam Graves and Mark Messier. He recounted the story:

              “I was in New York by [Madison Square] Garden picking up a watch that I had bought. I came out walking towards the Garden [headed toward his train stop home]. Coming out of a coffee shop were these three New York Rangers. I was [wondering] should I bother them, or should I play it cool? I decided on the former. I waited until we had to stop for the streetlight to change and said, ‘Hey New York Rangers.’ Messier put his finger to his lip and said, ‘Schuse.’ Graves said, ‘Just kidding.’ They said they liked walking around New York without people knowing them. I did not ask for an autograph. [As] I said I was trying to be cool.”

                Jimmy also likes to talk about other sports. This approach helps him get along well with his co-workers. A co-worker atthe Acorn, complimented him, “He’s a funny guy who’s easy to get along with. He creates a more laid back atmosphere, at least for guys.” The co-worker, who did not wish to release his name, also is originally from the New York area. The two of them are able to easily talk about football or hockey.

              On July 10, 1969, Jimmy was born in Jersey City, N.J. He remembers his birth year because that was the year that both the New York Mets and New York Jets won championships. He came to Elon upon a recommendation from his sister, who married someone in the nearby community. He visited and was soon convinced that the atmosphere would suit him better than the “hustle and bustle” of New York City and New Jersey. Since then, he has been working at the Acorn.

           Jimmy goes through a tough, daily grind of work at the Acorn, but has a big heart to keep him going. He has many good qualities and attributes. He’s an easygoing guy to talk and converse with, whether that involves talking about the weather or joking about how a co-worker is secretly part of the witness protection program. The one specific thing that stands out about Jimmy, though, is his passion for the Rangers. Of all Rangers fans, Jimmy truly defines the fan expression, “I am a Ranger!”   


1 Response to ““I am a Ranger!””

  1. 1 cockman winedinger April 19, 2014 at 10:55 pm


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