Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Seen any good movies or TV lately?
As we enter a new month of quarantine, here in New York, there hasn’t been much to do besides drink your balls off and watch television shows & movies. I don’t know what the stock numbers are or what the membership/subscriber numbers of such services as Netflix & Amazon Prime are, but I’d imagine those numbers are ticking upwards these days. During any sort of tragedy, in this case, a global-wide pandemic, some businesses will thrive, while some businesses will fail. If there are any “winners” during these dark times, it are the streaming service companies.
And just imagine if we had no WiFi or internet during this time! The horror! I will say this, when it comes to staying home, drinking beer and watching TV, as “doing my part” during these tough times, I think I’ve found my calling in life! As a reminder, it’s always better to have a sense of humor than not. Of course, that doesn’t apply for everyone. After all, someone who lived on the same block as my parents got the corona virus and died this past Monday. For that family, it’s impossible to find the proverbial glass to be half-full right now. These are just tough times, and while everyone is effected, some are effected more than others.
In addition, while nothing can compare to death, I feel bad for the kids across America, my nieces included, who are missing out on meeting the Easter Bunny, having Easter Egg hunts and all that other jazz for kids. These times just suck for everyone.
As far as any new corona virus NHL news updates, I pretty much covered everything in my last blog. You can find that blog, and my most recent blogs, by checking out the links below:
BCBS For 3/29: An In-Depth Look at NYR vs DAL (2/6/09) aka “The Steve Valiquette 10 Goals Allowed Game”; Thoughts On Vally’s M$GN Work, Corona Virus Hits James Dolan & M$G; NHL’s Latest Comments, Ending the Season, Strome & DeAngelo vs Twitter Geeks, Kenny Albert Honored, NYR Podcasts/Duguay, Lundqvist vs Brees & Tons More
BCBS For 3/24: The Top 10 Rangers Defensemen of All Time List; Including Detailed Bios & Covering 93 Years of Rangers History, The 1950 NYR vs DET Stanley Cup Final, DeAngelo Strikes Again, NHL’s Latest Statement on This Crippling Corona Virus & More
BCBS For 3/21: A Deep Look & Reviewing New York Rangers Head Coach David Quinn in Year 2, DQ’s Hits & Misses, DQ/Jack Adams, NYR Make a Signing During The Corona Virus Quarantine, Duguay/Avery, RIP Naked BBC Guy, NYR Defense Mt. Rushmore & More
BCBS For 3/17: Show Tony DeAngelo The GREEN on St. Patrick’s Day; An In-Depth Look at DeAngelo’s Worth, Value & Future with NYR, Rangers Lock In K’Andre Miller, Corona Virus Continues To Cripple the World, New Estimated NHL Return Date, Playoffs, Hitler TV, Prop Bets & More
BCBS For 3/14: The Corona Virus Wipes Out Professional Sports, Potential Stanley Cup Playoff Ideas & How To Increase Revenue & Fan Support, Will The New York Rangers Return, Lundqvist’s Career in Jeopardy, See Ya Road-Trip, NYR Milestones, Gambling, Lemieux Suspended & More
The only new updates about the corona virus and the NHL, that I have for you today, is that four more players on the Ottawa Senators and two players on the Colorado Avalanche all have contracted the virus. As of this writing, all six of these players have made full recoveries. I think that’s what’s lost about all this corona virus crap – there are a ton of survivors. However, as the old adage goes, if I gave you a bag of 100 M&M’s, and told you only five of them were poisonous and would kill you, would you eat any of the M&M’s?
The other thing I’m hearing a lot right now, is how people don’t know anyone who has the corona virus or who have died from the corona virus. I was one of those people, until this past Monday, when I heard about the neighbor on my parents block. Even worse, as New Yorkers, we’re living in the epicenter of this, as the borough of Queens leads the nation with corona virus cases. Again, just tough, crazy and unprecedented times right now.
One other thing of note here, in regards to the corona virus and the NHL. In some recent NHL player chats, many players have stated that they hope the regular season can return, then go to the playoffs. As stated on past blogs, I don’t see how these guys can return for any sort of regular season. If the NHL is to return, I see a mini-training camp and an expanded playoff tree. Refer to my last few blogs for more on this.
Another personal note here. I had a dentist appointment today. Fun fact: the dentist I use, a dentist I’ve been seeing for 20 years now, is also the same dentist of Rangers alumni, Pete Stemkowski. My dentist, who has been doing this a long time and has plenty of contacts in the medical field, believes this corona virus started during Christmas time. We just didn’t know it yet. According to him and his friends in the medical profession, many patients were either canceling appointments or going to the hospital, with flu symptoms around Christmas time. Three months later, and the corona virus has now become a thing that we’ll never forget.
Who knows, maybe Al Trautwig was patient zero here in NY? While I’m half-joking here, he looked ungodly sick, during a Ranger pregame show in late September of 2019.
Unlike other Ranger fan sites, blogs or reporters, I can’t write the same thing about the 2019-2020 New York Rangers over and over again. That’s why I’ve been going down the history well a lot here. I want to present something different and new, rather than recap & say everything that’s been said 676789678967896 times already. As you’ll see once we get to the Frank Boucher Trophy section of this blog, once again, I’ll give you something else that no one else is doing right now. However before getting to that, like many of you, I’m trapped in the house and going nuts with my Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts. Here are a few of the shows/movies I’ve been watching and recommend:
— Tiger King (Netflix) – FREE JOE EXOTIC! Seriously, while this is kind of trashy and there are no winners in this documentary at all, the fact that this documentary was even being filmed is a story in its own right. Without giving spoilers here, a documentary team was covering the big cat/tigers/roadside zoos in America. While filming, a major federal case broke out, thus giving these documentary people an explosive conclusion. In the “old days”, you know, when people went to work and drank out of water coolers instead of drinking bottled water, this show would’ve been your quintessential “water cooler” show.
— Ozark (Netflix) – If you liked “Breaking Bad”, you’ll love Ozark. The writing and all the twists & turns makes the new third season of Ozark, which logs in at 10 hours, fly by.
— Hunters (Amazon) – I talked about this show several blogs ago. Starring Al Pacino, Pacino leads a bunch of Nazi Hunters in a true, yet embellished story, in a post World War II America.
— Plot Against America (HBO) – based off Phil Roth’s 2004 book, this mini-series, written & directed by David Simon of “The Wire”, is another one of those great Nazi shows, that are all the rage right now. Starring Winona Ryder, the show is another alt-history show, with Charles Lindbergh, a nazi sympathizer, defeating FDR in the 1940 Presidential Election.
— Impractical Jokers The Movie (Amazon, other streaming services)- I have been a day one Impractical Jokers fan, even seeing them as “The Tenderloins”, long before their television show became a success. I’ve always been a fan of these guys, but I found the movie to be underwhelming. Again, no spoilers here, but several stunts they’ve done in the past were repeated in the movie, to much diminishing returns.
— McMillion$ (HBO) – a six part documentary about how the Monopoly McDonald’s games were rigged by one guy. This documentary flies by and features all sorts of incredible characters, including an over-zealous FBI agent.
— Better Call Saul (AMC) – This is a regular cable television show and is the prequel to “Breaking Bad”. I just bring it up here, because it’s my favorite show on TV today. Both Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman) and female lead Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler) are FABULOUS on this show.
Next on my watch list? “Bosch” Season Six, which comes to Amazon in a few weeks. I’m also debating about trying to watch the new season of “Westworld” on HBO. I consider myself a smart guy, but I found the last season of “Westworld” to be too confusing. Half the time, when watching “Westworld”, I feel like I need to make a Carrie Mathison, from “HOMELAND” (another great show that’s kicking ass this season on Showtime) corkboard, just to keep track of what’s going on. And really, outside of the sets, the story on “Westworld” is pretty boring.
If you’ve learned anything here, it is the fact that I watch too much TV. But hey, what else are we supposed to do right now?
Before getting into the feature story of tonight’s blog, I want to once again, plug some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately.
Up first, the returning champions, Jim & Eddie, of “The Blueshirt Underground Show”. You can listen to their latest episode here:
On Wednesday, Ron Duguay dropped the latest episode of his NY Post backed podcast, “Up in the Blue Seats”. You can listen to the show by clicking below:
— Ron Duguay (@RonDuguay10) April 1, 2020
On the show, Ron Duguay and NY Post scribe, Larry Brooks, discuss Rangers history. The name Frank Boucher is brought up, which of course, gets me buzzing and alert!
Recently on social media, I was talking to Duguay about his previous podcast, where Larry Brooks pushed the topic of retiring Brad Park’s number 2. I’ve recapped this episode already and my thoughts on all of this on previous blogs. The short end of it – if you’re going to retire Brad Park’s jersey, then you have to retire the jerseys of Boucher, Cook, Johnson, Hextall, Greshner, etc.
In this new episode, Duguay questions Brooks about Frank Boucher and if his jersey should be retired. Say what you want about Larry Brooks, as I know he has his fans and detractors like anyone else, and perhaps Brooks is too sensitive at times; at the end of the day, no NYR beat reporter carries as much weight and juice as Brooks does. When he eventually retires, he will be the last of the old guard to go. There will never be another Rangers beat reporter like Larry Brooks. As we’ve seen, in this new era where people read their phones rather than newspapers these days, the era of influence the newspaper man once had, is something from an era ago.
On the topic of Frank Boucher and his jersey being retired, Brooks says he doesn’t see it happening and doesn’t see the point in it, as he feels jersey retirements are for the players, the family of those players and the fans. I can 100% tell you first-hand, from all my conversations and my visit to Frankie Baird, the granddaughter of Frank Boucher, the family would love to see this honor. As a Ranger fan, I would love to see this honor! (For all of my stuff on Frank Boucher, check out https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/retire-frank-bouchers-7/)
While Brooks didn’t seem gung-ho about Boucher being honored, he did say something I’ve said in the past. (Full disclosure here: last year, Larry Brooks contacted me about Frank Boucher’s granddaughter wanting Frank Boucher to be honored by the Rangers. I gave Brooks some contact info and never heard back.)
Brooks, on the podcast with Duguay, said, and I’m paraphrasing him here, “I wouldn’t be against walking into M$G next season, and seeing Frank Boucher’s jersey in the rafters. It would just be tough to do a ceremony. Look at what happened during the Bathgate & Howell retirement ceremonies. 95% of the fans in the building didn’t know who they were.”
I agree with Brooks. Due to the Rangers ineptness to promote their own history, many fans are not familiar with Ranger greats. Remember how I talked to you about that idiotic fan who didn’t know who Rod Gilbert was? How about this Twitter exchange, from this week:
— BlueCollarBlueShirts (@NYCTheMiC) March 29, 2020
I couldn’t take much of the idiocy here, (and really, I’m trying to limit my Twitter interaction with people who are just 100% wrong, as it’s not worth my time. That said, I just mute these people, rather than blocking them like Larry Brooks does.) but this user, @NathanCohen24, with the number 24 perhaps an indication of Nathan’s IQ, was trying to tell me how Sawchuck stunk and would never make it in the AHL today. Obviously, Nathan is wrong. I won’t get into all the different eras, because I’ve discussed that stuff to death on these blogs, but can you imagine Henrik Lundqvist, with no mask, trying to do one of his headers against a Bobby Hull slapshot?
And do I really have to lay it out for you here? To many, Sawchuk is the greatest goalie of all time. At the very least, he’s on the Mount Rushmore of goalies, with guys like Brodeur, Roy and Hasek.
With that all said, people like Nathan (and he isn’t the only moron) aren’t 100% at fault either. If the Rangers don’t teach their history, who will? That’s why I think Frank Boucher’s jersey should be in the rafters, if only to make fans of a newer generation ask – “who is Frank Boucher?” I mean, I see Vince Mercogliano, who is definitely the hardest working writer on the Rangers beat today, doing column after column about how great Panarin is and other topics done to death 8677896976789 times. Even someone like Vince Mercogliano has no clue who Frank Boucher is, nor could talk about his career intelligently. Conversely, every Yankee beat writer can tell you about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe D. & Mickey Mantle. If the Rangers can’t hype up their Hall of Famers in the same way the Yankees do, who will? Me? I’m only one small voice, albeit, with a big mouth!
All in all, while I didn’t agree with some of the opinions from Larry Brooks, I liked that Ron Duguay made it a topic of conversation. Just by talking about guys like Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, Bryan Hextall and Ching Johnson, as Brooks & Duguay did, it keeps their names alive.
One other idea that both Brooks, Duguay and later Dave Maloney talked about on the podcast, was the idea of a physical Rangers Hall of Fame at M$G. I know the Montreal Canadiens used to have one, (I visited it personally in 2013) before breaking that Habs museum up and displaying all sorts of different artifacts around the Bell Centre today. Of course, I would do a Rangers “RINK OF HONOR”, an idea I discussed in a past blog and something I’m using for a future book, but I’m up for anything that promotes history.
In conclusion on all of this, the Rangers, while not having the best win-loss record over 93+ years, do have an excellent history, full of many Hall of Famers. In a building so cold and corporate these days, it would be nice to have something for the fans to relish in.
And speaking about Frank Boucher, let’s go to the main event of this blog.
Prior to Frank Boucher and the Rangers parting ways in 1955, ending Boucher’s 29 year tenure with the Rangers; the Rangers Fan Club created the “Frank Boucher Trophy” after the 1951-1952 season. Don “BONES” Raleigh was the first recipient of the award.
The idea of the trophy was to honor the Ranger who was considered the most popular player, both on and off the ice. The New York Rangers Fan Club, founded in 1950 and which disbanded in 2010, had over 2000 members at their peak. Stan Fischler was a charter member of the group.
To just give you some background information on the Rangers Fan Club, here’s a 2014 article about the group’s legacy, from WNYC.org. The following comes from https://www.wnyc.org/story/new-york-rangers-fan-club-may-be-gone-fans-remain/
The New York Rangers have another chance tonight to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Cheering them on will be some long-time members of the New York Rangers Fan Club.
The club formed in 1950 and for years was a visible presence at games.
“The fan club had a very close relationship with the team because in those days the aura of hockey players was not as it is now,” said Stan Fischler, a hockey historian and analyst who was a charter member of the club. “Some hockey players now are practically cartels they’re so rich. And these were down to earth guys who were making $7,000 — $8,000 a year if they were lucky.”
The club hosted trips to away games, hung signs through the stadium to cheer on the team and even had social events like an annual dinner dance with players.
At its peak, the club had around 2,000 members, said Debbie Rockower, former-president of the club, who has had season tickets to Rangers games since 1972. It was a tight-knit group, she added.
“I think all of those years of not winning brought the fans closer together because we all had in common that same desire to see them win the cup,” Rockower said.
The club was also close to the players. Rockower said after 9/11 she got a call from Rangers-great Barry Beck who wanted to make sure she was OK.
Beck now coaches a hockey program in Hong Kong. In an email, he wrote that he often thinks about the club.
“When I was first traded to the Rangers I attended the annual fan club dinner. For me it was a new experience. Teammates had warned me before to watch out for the slow dances as most attendees are women. It was all in good fun and I did get on the dance floor a few times. The adult beverages certainly helped,” Beck wrote WNYC. “The game has changed now. It is difficult to get close to players. I guess not as many slow dances now. Social media has changed everything.”
After 54 years of futility, the Rangers finally won the Stanley Cup in 1994. Rockower said that was the beginning of the end for the club. In the years that followed, the team stopped supporting the club as much as it had, she said. The club no longer holds meetings or organizes trips.
“We used to send a newsletter once a month to the fan club members and the Garden used to let us bring it over to the mailroom and they would mail it out for us and save us a lot of money in postage,” Rockower said. “Then all of a sudden one day, they brought it over and they said they couldn’t do it anymore…The whole culture just changed.”
That’s not just a New York story. Colleen Coughlin, president of the NHL Booster Clubs – an umbrella organization for fan clubs across the country, said that in her role running the booster club for her local St. Louis Blues hockey team, she’s had a similar experience. “Our link to the club has declined a lot like many other clubs,” Coughlin said.
She says players just have more demands on their time. And many teams are running their own trips and promotional events that in the past were organized by fans.
“It’s just unfortunately the nature of the growing popularity of our sport,” Coughlin said.
That popularity will be on full display Thursday night when Rangers fans — club or no club — try to push their team closer to the Stanley Cup.
The email below is from Barry Beck to WNYC:
From: Barry Beck
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 9:50 PM
To: Robert Lewis
Subject: RE: Interview request
When I was first traded to the Rangers I attended the Annual fan club dinner. For me it was a new experience. Teammates had warned me before to watch out for the slow dances as most attendees are women. It was all in good fun and I did get on the dance floor a few times. The adult beverages certainly helped.
Through the fan club I got to meet some good friends. Most are diehard Ranger fans so you have to be cooperative with them or they’ll kill you!!
I always enjoyed when they travelled up to Montreal to watch us play the Canadians. It’s always a good feeling to have support on the road so the guys always looked forward to that trip. We would talk in the dressing room before the game and tell each other to look after the fan club. If they get in any trouble make sure we help them. Usually that meant we’d have to climb
50 rows up to the top of the forum where they were seated. We would have gone if needed. If that would have happened they’d still be talking about it!
The game has changed now. It is difficult to get close to players. I guess not as many slow dances now. Social media has changed everything,
I always looked as the fan club as being like your core group of players on the team.
You need them to be strong and have to respect them
Yes I miss [those] who supported myself and the team as they do till this day.
I think of them often and enjoy the memories as the years go by.
Obviously, like anything else, as time passes, technology and the way of life changes too. With the internet making the world smaller, and with every sports franchise having 676689 subsections of fans, all looking to carve their own corner on this thing called the internet; ideas, groups and businesses from years ago, have all fell to the wayside.
After all, a monthly newsletter is a dated idea today. Even if one was to exist, it would only take seconds before the whole newsletter was uploaded for free on the internet. Put it this way, if weekly periodicals like “Sports Illustrated” and “The Hockey News” have had to scale back, as both publications only print monthly now, and use feature opinion stories rather than focusing on the news, how is a fan newsletter supposed to last in this age?
Put it this way, “Playboy” magazine, once had something like 7.4 million subscribers. Today, “Playboy” is lucky to have 50,000 subscribers. Even the iconic “MAD” Magazine, is no longer more. (And as a “MAD” reader from childhood, all the way until it ended in 2019, this is truly SAD. “MAD” did fall off over the years and adopted liberal politics after Trump was elected, but even so, “MAD” magazine used to be such a vital fabric of Americana, that it’s a shame that it ceases to exist anymore.)
I don’t know exactly how the Rangers Fan Club determined the “Frank Boucher Trophy”, which as we can see, once used to be delivered to players in the form of a plaque. I’d imagine they had a fan vote and would determine a winner that way.
Following the Steven McDonald shooting in 1986, Steven McDonald and the Rangers created the “Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award” during the 1987-1988 season. As the title says, the award was given out to the Ranger who gave the most effort during the course of the Rangers season. As time went on, while “name brand” players would mostly win the award, the award in later years, would also award guys who gave that extra hustle and provided some grit.
While the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award was founded in 1988, the Rangers Fan Club was still awarding out the Frank Boucher Trophy. However, the Steve McDonald award had the official backing by the New York Rangers and they would honor the winner during a ceremony during the last home game of the season. All in all, both awards were handed out concurrently for 22 years.
For some Rangers trivia here, John Vanbiesbrouck was the first person to win both awards, winning the Frank Boucher Trophy in 1986, after his Vezina season with the Rangers. Along with Kelly Kisio, the man known as “BEEZER”, would win the McDonald award in 1990. In another trivia note, Adam Graves was the first player to win both awards in the same season, during the 1993-1994 season. Also of note, Messier & Gretzky would later both win both awards, in the same season, in later years. Henrik Lundqvist would also win both awards, although like John Vanbiesbrouck, in different years.
In today’s Rangers world, the Steve McDonald award is obviously the most prestigious award handed out to an individual Ranger. However, that award, which is decided by the McDonald family, honors the Ranger that demonstrates the most amount of effort. The Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, was an award that honored popularity.
Just for your knowledge, here are the people who won the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, courtesy of Wikipedia.com:
While I don’t fancy myself as a historian, even if hockey history is a topic I immensely enjoy & love to write & talk about, I can tell you that I have good relationship with the family of Frank Boucher. With everything slow right now and people trying to find new topics to write about, this is why I’m doing this blog tonight. That said, I think I would’ve done a blog like this during the summer, when the NHL would’ve been in an off-season. Plus, anything to keep Frank Boucher’s name alive, I’m always up for that task!
At this time, I would like to go back in time ten years and recap who I would’ve given the Frank Boucher Trophy to. And hell, let me perhaps overstep my bounds here – I’m bringing the FRANK BOUCHER FAN TROPHY back! While I’m playing an authority figure here, just for the sake of this blog, perhaps in the upcoming years, I can hold a poll for BlueCollarBlueShirts.com readers, where they can vote on this award. Consider this the return and the re-introductory of the FRANK BOUCHER FAN TROPHY. After this blog, I’ll go the democratic route and we can all vote on this together.
That said, before deciding who should’ve won this award this season and during the past ten seasons, we have to look at what the award honored. It awarded the most popular player, both on and off the ice. Knowing that, what defines the word “POPULAR”?
I don’t think I have to give you the Webster’s dictionary definition of the world “popular”. You and I both know what the word means. That said, how can we judge popularity? I think you can use a bunch of different factors here, such as:
— Fan reaction
— Jersey sales
— Worth of a player’s autograph
— Community service/charity work
— Bond with fans
— The featured face of Rangers marketing/advertising (which helps when going back over the last decade.)
—- Player ability/amount of times featured as “three stars of the game.”
For the purpose of this blog, I’m using all of the above. I’m also looking at what players won the Steven McDonald Award and the MVP Award of the team in each of the seasons profiled below. I’m using those awards to decide tie-breakers.
Furthermore, keep in mind, this award honors REGULAR SEASON play only.
And finally, with all the parameters and the history discussed of the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, let’s take a look at who should’ve won the award during the past decade. As a finale, I’ll give you the BlueCollarBlueShirts.com Official 2019-2020 Frank Boucher Fan Trophy Award Winner.
2010-2011: HENRIK LUNDQIVST
When it comes to the early part of the 2010-2019 decade, no one was more dominant for the Rangers than Henrik Lundqvist. When it comes to fan popularity, which this award honors, you can make cases for guys like Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery. However, while there were a ton of Callahan jerseys being worn by Ranger fans at this time, no one was more popular than Henrik Lundqvist. While in the first half of this decade, the Steve McDonald Award trophy was being won by Ryan Callahan on multiple occasions, it was Lundqvist winning the team MVP.
2011-2012: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
While Lundqvist had already “arrived”, in regards to league-wide popularity, this was the best season of his career, as he won the Vezina this season. While Callahan remained popular, it was Marian Gaborik picking up 41 goals this season. Whether you want to say that Lundqvist’s best years were a direct result of the system John Tortorella employed or not, the fact is, HEADS AND SHOULDERS (pun intended) Lundqvist was the most popular Ranger in this season.
2012-2013: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
I know, I know, I know, long-time readers and even Frankie Baird (the granddaughter of Frank Boucher) have to be shocked that I have Lundqvist winning this award four years in a row! While Rod Gilbert (5), Andy Bathgate (4) Mark Messier (4) and Mike Richter (4) have won this award four times or more, no one ever won it four years in a row. In my opinion, Lundqvist would’ve been the first person to win this award four times in a row. Hell, I’m making this award official on this site, he IS the first person to win it four times in a row.
Historically, when you look at Lundqvist winning this award four times in a row, when compared to the others, it tells you how popular he was. It also tells you that he didn’t have a true number 2 at this time. While Callahan came borderline close to matching Lundqvist’s popularity, he never was truly able to knock Lundqvist off his perch. It just goes to show you how these Ranger teams were here. In the 50’s and 60’s, this award bounced around between guys like Worsley, Bathgate, Howell and Giacomin. In the 1970’s, this award mostly bounced around the GAG line and Giacomin. In the 1980’s, it was up for grabs. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the award was decided among “the core four of ’94” and Gretzky. When it comes to the early years of the 2010’s, it was the Lundqvist show.
2013-2014: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
Lundqvist ties Rod Gilbert for the most amount of Frank Boucher Fan Trophies with this win, with five. Five straight at that. In this Stanley Cup Finalist season for the Rangers, this is when you started seeing new faces gain popularity, like Rick Nash (I know, forget the playoffs though) and Mats Zuccarello. This was also the final season of Ryan Callahan, who may have won this award, had he not been traded in this year. Why would Callahan be considered here? It was this season that his jersey outsold the jersey of Henrik Lundqvist. Of note, Ryan McDonagh won the team MVP this season, but he still wasn’t at the level Lundqvist was, in terms of fan popularity or production.
2014-2015: MATS ZUCCARELLO
This was the season where Lundqvist got injured in, and Cam Talbot had a phenomenal second half of the season, enroute to winning the Steven McDonald Award. (Rick Nash won the NYR MVP this season too.)
To me, this season was kind of up for grabs, due to the Lundqvist injury. Martin St. Louis gained instant popularity this season, especially after the 2014 playoffs. Hagelin was popular. Nash was popular. McDonagh was popular. However, this was the season where you saw an uptick in Zuccarello jersey sales and Zucc’s face featured on advertising. If any chant rivaled the familiar sounds of “HEN-RIK”, it was “ZUUUUUUUUUUUC”.
And as many believe to this day, if it wasn’t for the injury Zuccarello suffered in the first round of the playoffs that year, who knows, maybe these Presidents’ Trophy winning Rangers win the Cup.
2015-2016: MATS ZUCCARELLO
If you go back on this site/blog’s history, the year prior, I was politicking for the Rangers to trade Lundqvist. I wasn’t the only one. While a small minority of voices would grow into a large majority in 2020, it was in that season where you could see the decline of Lundqvist. It was also around this time where Zuccarello somewhat usurped Lundqvist as “the most popular Ranger.”
One thing, to be fair here, while Zuccarello jerseys were flying off the shelves, at this point, Lundqvist had logged 10 years with the Rangers. People already had Lundqvist jerseys. That said, in this season, Raanta was the better goalie of the two and this was Zuccarello’s best season in the NHL, logging career highs in goals and points. The “ZUUUUUUC” chants were part of every game at M$G this season. Also of note, Zuccarello won his first Steven McDonald Award this season too, which makes Zucc part of a small group who have now won the Steven McDonald Award & the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy.
2016-2017: MATS ZUCCARELLO
Just like other Rangers on this list, Zuccarello wins the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy for the third year in a row. Historically, this was the final season of an old era, and the pre-rebuild season.
Once again, in net, Raanta was challenging Lundqvist, and coach AV would bench Lundqvist during stretches of the season. Conversely, once again, Zuccarello was tops on the team in points and assists. While Ryan McDonagh would win team MVP this year, his popularity came nowhere close to challenging Zuccarello. Also of note, with this win, Zuccarello wins both the McDonald & Boucher trophies, in two consecutive years.
2017-2018: MATS ZUCCARELLO and HENRIK LUNDQVIST
While you may think naming two winners here is a cop-out, this isn’t unprecedented. After all, in three consecutive years, during the early 1980’s, the Rangers Fan Club named two co-winners of this award. To also give you some background here, the Steve McDonald Award also named two winners, in 1990.
This was the season where the Rangers sent out the “LETTER”, where they announced they were rebuilding their team. During this season, Zuccarello once again led the team in points and assists. With guys like Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta now gone, Lundqvist was easily the best goalie on the team as well.
In another note, with Zuccarello’s BFF’s of Hagelin and Brassard traded away, Zucc and Lundqvist’s bond grew. How fitting that they win this award together!
In the history of this award, Lundqvist is now the all-time winner of this award, with 6 wins. Mats Zuccarello now wins this award for the fourth season in a row too.
2018-2019: MIKA ZIBANEJAD
With the Rangers continuing their rebuild and selling off everyone, combined with the continued decline of Henrik Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad would win Team MVP & the Steve McDonald award in this season. Zibanejad led the team in goals, assists and points in this season. With Zuccarello now gone, Kreider in a funk and Lundqvist nearing the end, Mika Zibanejad, HANDS DOWN, wins the Frank Boucher trophy in this 2018-2019 trying season.
And now, with the 2019-2020 regular season over in my opinion, give me a drum roll here, as we decide the 2019-2020 winner of this Frank Boucher Fan Trophy:
And the winner is….
2019-2020: ARTEMI PANARIN
Like any official Rangers award, fan award or anything like it this season, when it comes to naming the most popular Ranger, the MVP of this team or the best Ranger this season, it’s a two-horse race between Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad. Again, I’m operating under the assumption that the regular season is over. That said, had the regular season continued, and the Rangers played out their final string of games, Panarin would’ve hit 100 points (he’s sitting on 95) and would’ve led the team in assists. That said, Zibanejad may have had 50 goals. However, what gives Panarin the edge here, is that Zibanejad missed 13 games this season. Furthermore, and this is no slight on Zibanejad at all, I thought Panarin made his teammates better too.
And really, in an award that honors popularity, I saw more Panarin jerseys and Panarin’s face, as the emphasis of Rangers advertising, more than I saw Zibanejad featured this season.
In a perfect world, a perfect world that features the NHL playing games again, for the next 5-6 years of Rangers hockey, you’ll have both Zibanejad and Panarin competing for this award. However, in his first season with the Rangers, not only is Panarin quickly becoming the greatest free agent the Rangers have ever signed; he wins this Frank Boucher Fan Trophy in his first season with the Blueshirts.
When it comes to alternate tie-breakers between #93 and #10, Panarin is in the Hart Trophy race. Zibanejad is not. Panarin also was more consistent and more productive during the entire season. Again, an injury hurt Zibanejad here. Panarin was also the first Rangers forward, since the days of Rick Nash, to be nominated to the NHL All Star Game. While you can’t discount the career year Zibanejad has had this season (and no one was more hurt/halted by this corona virus lockdown than Zibanejad) I feel that Panarin edged out Zibanejad for this prestigious award.
Congratulations to Artemi Panarin, for winning the FRANK BOUCHER FAN TROPHY for the 2019-2020 New York Rangers Season!
While I think it’s only a matter of time before Zibanejad is named the captain of this club (you could also make a strong case for Chris Kreider here, in the aftermath of his new 7 year contract), when it comes to the 2019-2020 Rangers MVP and Steven McDonald Award, I think Zibanejad will have a better case to win those awards, than the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy that I awarded Panarin. I just hope those awards happen on M$G ice this season.
As the great Porky Pig once said, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!”
I hope you enjoyed this unique and different dive in to Rangers history today.
Moving forward, the NHL has moved their self-quarantine to April 15th. However, with different states and provinces having quarantines going to and beyond the month of May; I don’t see any hockey being played this month. I talked about this last blog too, so refer to that blog, but it has to be worrisome for all of these sports leagues, that once this corona virus shit has calmed down, will people sell out arenas again? I don’t see that happening, at least not in the immediate future. I think it’s going to take time, before not only people feel comfortable going out again, but having the disposable income (money) to do so.
As far as the next blog on this site, I don’t know when it will happen, but I’ll come up with something good. Subscribe to this blog by clicking the button below, so you don’t miss the next update: