Possessives and Attributives
Q. In reply to the question of whether it should be “the Rangers hockey game” or “the Rangers’ hockey game,” you basically said that both are acceptable but the former is slightly preferred. I’d like to point out two things that make the former even more preferable. (1) The Rangers play more than one hockey game (and more than one per season), so you can never attend the Rangers hockey game, but only a Rangers hockey game. (2) A hockey game isn’t really a possession of the Rangers like their rink, but is rather an event (something incorporeal) that is merely highly associated with the Rangers, and whose association with the Rangers is only 50 percent (the other 50 percent of the association is with the opposing team).
A. Thank you for these thoughts! Let me point out a few things in reply. (1) Of course you can attend “the Rangers hockey game.” If I say, “Last night we went to the Rangers hockey game,” I’m referring to the game that was held last night. (2) The genitive indicated by apostrophe + s serves many purposes besides literal possession. Please see CMOS 5.20 for examples. (3) You might have misread our answer; in fact, CMOS 7.27 says, “If in doubt, choose the plural possessive.”