Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Welcome to day 39, of what feels like an alternate version of reality and humanity.
After my last blog, I got several emails from some of you guys, <GASP> that the last blog posted on this site was too long and took days to read. Hence a new update here, with a shorter period of time between blogs!
Quite frankly, as compared to the last blog, there isn’t as much news to recap. So I promise you here, this blog won’t be as long as my last entry! However, I won’t short-change you here. As I always say, I just hate writing 78647896347896389644 three paragraph entries. I rather get some
whiskey & beer blog juice, and see where the blog goes!
In tonight’s mini-manifesto, I’ll look at the latest NHL update on the corona virus and league resumption talks. I’ll also take a look at the podcast scene, a few Rangers news updates and then polish it all off, by looking at the All Time Greats in Rangers history.
However, before getting into everything, as usual, here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
BCBS For 4/19: Mega Blog Edition! Top 5 Captains in NYR History, Messier vs Cook, DeAngelo’s Donation & NYR Fan Reaction, Latest Corona Virus League Update/Florida, Salary Cap, Trump, Rosen & Micheletti Commentate Porn, The Hank vs Marty Never-Ending Debate, Duguay, Girardi, Talbot, LaFleur & Much More
BCBS For 4/7: Time for The New York Rangers To Make History Again; The Legacy of Adam Graves, Original Six Teams, NHL Statues, K’Andre Miller Gets Zoomed; Future Teammates Get The -Ism’s Thrown At Them, Trump Wants Sports Back, New NYR Signing, Latest Corona Virus Updates, and the NHL In North Dakota?
BCBS For 4/2: The Return of the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy Including 2019-2020 Winner & Winners of the Last Decade, Praise for Lundqvist, Corona Virus & NHL Updates, Streaming Shows, Duguay/Brooks, BSU/Gorton, Steve McDonald Award & More
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
As usual, ever since “this shit” started (I put “this shit” in quotes, as it seems most New Yorkers use the phrase “this shit”, rather than the term the “corona virus”) I will start off tonight’s blog by looking at the latest news from the league.
On Wednesday, April 22nd, NHL.com ran their latest update on where the league stands on “this shit”. The following comes from https://www.nhl.com/news/commissioner-gary-bettman-on-scenario-to-resume-nhl-season/c-316699898:
As many as four NHL arenas would host three games each per day without fans in one of the scenarios the League is considering to finish the season, Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet on Wednesday.
The NHL, which paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, also floated the idea to the general managers of holding the 2020 NHL Draft in June before the season ends.
“It was a trial balloon,” Commissioner Bettman said of the draft proposal. “No decision has been made. And I said as we were getting some feedback, ‘We don’t live in a world of perfect anymore. We’re going to have to make adjustments.’
“Ideally from our standpoint — and it would resolve a lot of issues — would be if we could complete the regular season, even if it’s on a centralized basis, and then go into the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] the way we normally play them.
“That would be ideal. But that’s, again, one of the numerous models we’re looking at, and if we can’t do ideal, if we can’t do perfect, we’re going to have to figure out what’s next to perfect.”
The NHL has decided against playing in non-NHL arenas at neutral sites because League arenas are best equipped to handle its needs if it decides to centralize games.
“We can’t play in a small college rink in the middle of a smaller community, because if we’re going to be centralized, we need the back of the house that NHL arenas provide, whether it’s multiple locker rooms, whether it’s the technology, the procedures, the boards and glass, the video replay, the broadcasting facilities,” Commissioner Bettman said.
The NHL would need four NHL-caliber locker rooms in each arena, because if it plays three games per day in one arena, it would need to use appropriate sanitizing procedures as teams move in and out, the Commissioner said.
Commissioner Bettman stressed the number of cities and the locations have not been decided. The NHL is modeling to make sure it is prepared for any eventuality.
“Maybe it’ll be two cities,” the Commissioner said. “It’s not something that we can predict right at this moment. But this is part of the contingencies. It doesn’t necessarily have to be by division, although the centralization may be by division.
“But the particular location could be anywhere that isn’t a hot spot and has what we need both in terms of the arena and having practice facilities, because if you bring in seven or eight clubs to a particular facility and you’re playing lots of games on a regular basis without travel, there does need to be ice for practice.”
The NHL has recommended players and staff self-quarantine through April 30. The first step toward resuming the season would be for players to work out at team facilities. The next step would be a training camp, which Commissioner Bettman said, based on a conversation with players and the NHL Players’ Association, would need to be at least three weeks.
Commissioner Bettman said the NHL felt no pressure to be the first major North American sports league to resume its season.
“This isn’t a race,” the Commissioner said. “The stakes are too important. … While some of them may have been able to work out in terms of physical strength over the last few weeks, the fact is, none of our guys really have been on skates. We’re going to have to make sure that they’re in game-ready condition, because we don’t want to put them on the ice and risk injury and their careers. So we’re going to need time to come back right, and when we come back, it’ll be having done the right things.”
The idea of holding the draft before the season ends presents problems, such as determining the draft order and what to do with certain contingent draft picks. But waiting months to hold the draft would present another set of problems.
“That’s why you’ve got to look at all of the options, balance them and try to make a good judgment, and we’re doing it with the feedback from our clubs, obviously,” Commissioner Bettman said. “We’re not sitting around on our own saying, ‘This is what we’re doing, period.'”
The NHL is also listening to the authorities.
“The decision ultimately will be made by medical people and people who are in governments at all different levels, so we’re not going to try and do anything that flies in the face of what we’re being told is appropriate,” the Commissioner said.
“… But clearly, we can play into the summer. Clearly, we can play next season, which we intend to do in its entirety, starting later. And so, with a lot of timing options, we have a great deal of flexibility, and we’re not going to rush anything. We’re not going to do anything that’s crazy. We’re going to try and do something, under the circumstances at the time, that is sensible.”
After Gary Bettman’s interview ran on NHL.com, there were 780374830374 different articles, social media postings, op-ed pieces and podcasts, all devoted to what he said and what the league may do.
According to several NHL reporters, including Larry Brooks of the NYP, one idea that’s out there, is that the league may start reconvening as soon as May 1st, where teams would go through a mini-camp, lasting anywhere from 2-3 weeks. Furthermore, in several of these scenarios, not only would the playoffs eventually commence, but the regular season would be completed too.
Also worth mentioning here, is that the NHL has many players that live in Europe, with Sweden being a country that has lax restrictions, in regards to the corona virus. This brings up another set of issues, such as testing and if these players should be quarantined, should they be able to re-enter the US. (Trump just signed a bill limiting immigration this week too.)
I’ve talked about my ideas on what I think could happen on a previous blog, which is linked above. In short, I still don’t see how the regular season continues. After all, for the bottom-of-the-barrel teams, what’s the point? Why put these teams at risk?
In addition, the word on the block is that all of these games would be played in front of no fans. So it’s not like these losing teams would even generate any revenue from the gate. And to add on top of that, say you’re a fan of the Devils, the Red Wings or whatever other team is playing for a draft pick & the possibility of attending these games was a real thing. Would you even risk your health and your dollars (during this economic depression, which is a direct result of “this shit”) to see your team stink the joint out?
While some reporters are reporting that the NHL intends to play out the regular season, I just don’t envision that happening. Again, as mentioned 67863784394 times on these blogs, no one knows what will happen and this is all hypothetical and guess-work stuff here. To me, and me alone (even if some of you will agree with me here) I think when it comes to this 2019-2020 season, you want to finish it as fast as possible, put a bow on it and get the hell out of dodge. There’s no reason to play games into August.
I know some people will think a shortened regular season, an expanded playoff field and rushed playoffs would tarnish the prestige of the Stanley Cup, should a Cup be awarded, but you can only play the hand your dealt. Why add 12-14 games per team and increase risk & exposure? Just go straight to the playoffs I say!
To just side-bar here, as I always do, I’ve seen countless people, including fans, reporters and the players themselves, say stuff like, “they should just cancel the season. The Cup will be tainted if they go straight to the playoffs or if they expand the playoff format.” To these people, I say – “you’re off your rocker.”
When I see people saying a potential 2020 Stanley Cup Championship victory would be tainted, should get an asterisk or anything negative about crowning a champ, I have to wonder if they know their history. Seriously, if you don’t know the history of the Stanley Cup, you owe it to yourself to actually put your phone down and read a book. If any championship in sports reflects the state of the world, or at least North America, it’s the Stanley Cup.
The purpose of this blog isn’t to give you a deep dive at the history of the Stanley Cup. Plenty of books have been written on this subject. All I could do is spew out what I’ve read in those books. That said, I just want to shed some light here, on the history of the Stanley Cup, for the uninformed:
— In the early days of the Stanley Cup, you had as little as three teams competing for it. Are those wins tainted, since there wasn’t much competition?
— The Stanley Cup was once awarded to teams through team-to-team challenges.
— In the early 1900’s, players would move from club-to-club all the time, and in some cases, eventual Cup champs had “mercenaries” on their roster. While these weren’t true “ringers”, akin to signing an ex-ball player for your company softball team, the effect and result was the same.
— Due to politics and personal conflicts, the NHL, WHICH WAS ONLY CREATED AS A WAY TO KICK EDDIE LIVINGSTONE (Check out this book review from many moons ago: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/deceptions-doublecross-book-review-how-the-nhl-conquered-hockey/) out of hockey, took sole rights and ownership of the Stanley Cup, locking many other teams from that era from contending for it.
— Must I bring up the topic of draft rights, before 1966? Teams got first dibs based on where a player lived, thus giving hockey hotbed towns, such as Montreal & Toronto, a significant edge over the “southern” teams in the league, such as New York and Chicago.
— And yes, this is a Rangers fan blog, so I’ll bring this up too – the Rangers were at a significant disadvantage, prior to the era of Emile Francis. All Ranger Stanley Cup Final games (and conference/league championships) were decided on the road or in “neutral” sites, due to the more profitable circus at M$G.
— The WHA and their players, which included Hall of Famers like Gordie Howe & Bobby Hull, were excluded from playing for the Cup, due to the NHL’s ownership of the championship.
— Let’s also not forget Cup champions, which were awarded during lock out abbreviated seasons. Are those wins tainted too?
Really, I could go on and on here, but I think I made my point. At the end of the day, when you look at the Stanley Cup and the way of the world when the Cup was awarded from year-to-year, there is a direct correlation. Again, you play the hand you’re dealt. Missing a dozen or so games won’t taint the trophy. It won’t hurt the prestige of the trophy.
What this all boils down to, is say, come 50-100 years from now, when future hockey historians look at 2020 and a potential Cup Champion, they will talk about how the corona virus crippled the world. Are the Cup Champions during the era of World War II diminished at all? After all, many teams had their rosters decimated during this time. I’ll answer this rhetorical question for you – of course not.
To finish my thoughts on all of this, if a Cup Champion emerges in 2020, their win is as good as any. While the NHL isn’t perfect, and while there has been some deceit & back-stabbing along the way (again, look at Eddie Livingstone vs the Montreal hockey honchos from that era) at the end of the day, the NHL (which took sole possession of the Stanley Cup in 1927) has always tried their best to present a level playing field, in regards to the Cup.
It is of my opinion, that no matter what the NHL does, whether it be a 24 playoff team format, byes, shortened series, a truncated regular season or whatever; that at the end of the day, the NHL will do their best to present the most honorable and fairest format for their Holy Grail. And truly think about it – if the NHL does crown a champion this season, every playoff team is in the same boat.
As far as what the NHL WILL do, in regards to the league resuming, everything still remains up-in-the-air. Nothing is concrete. Many dates and ideas are out there, but really, until the CDC and these states/provinces give the okay, the NHL can’t make a move. If there is any optimism here, it is the fact that the NHL is continuing to operate with the idea of having their playoffs, rather than punting & going straight to the 2020-2021 season.
And I know I’ve mentioned this before, so I’ll say this real quick here. When it comes to the CBA, contracts, the draft and all that other jazz, I believe the NHL and the NHLPA will easily work out all the details. Everyone has the same goal here – getting hockey up and running. No one is going to stall talks.
During this past week, it was announced and reported that both Rangers owner James Dolan and the recently minted & re-signed Chris Kreider, have made full recoveries. As talked about on previous blogs, James Dolan had the corona virus, but his health was never in any serious jeopardy. He’s now 100% and is even donating his blood to researchers.
When it comes to Kreider, who fractured his ankle at the end of February, he is also 100%. If the league resumes, Kreider will be ready to go.
At least we got some good news out of this! Moving along.
This past Sunday, Rangers draft pick bust, Lias Andersson, did an interview for his native Swedish newspaper, “The Gothenburg Post.” You can read one of the many articles about this interview, by clicking this link: https://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Jan-Levine/Lias-Andersson-opens-up-in-interview-discusses-his-issues-future-etc/89/105313
Here are a few of the translated highlights, courtesy of Jan Levine of HockeyBuzz.com:
Lias Andersson: “It was bad habits”
Lias Andersson found joy in hockey when he returned to Sweden.
In an interview with the Gothenburg Post, he shares more details about life in New York.
A life with bad habits, sleep problems and poor self-confidence.
Lias Andersson returned to Sweden from the New York Rangers in January. The 21-year-old did not feel well mentally and has been open since his return with how he has measured.
In an interview with the Gothenburg Post which met Andersson in connection with an ice pass in Kungälv, he opens up some more details
– I sat playing video games all night, just waiting for the Swedes to wake up at home to go to work. So I could call and talk some shit, like. It was bad habits, he tells the newspaper, and says he also struggled with poor self-confidence.
“Sleep tablet now and then”
The bad habits also led to sleep problems.
– I had trouble sleeping and started taking a sleeping tablet every now and then. Sat up late, played video games. It could be worse if I let it continue, he admits.
The future is unclear
The future is not carved in stone yet. There can be games in HV71 and there can be games in the NHL.
– I have no idea what’s going on. No fucking idea whatsoever. I just practice – and see what happens. I’m open to anything. I just want to have fun. I just want to play hockey, he says.
I’ve recapped the Lias Andersson saga all season long on this blog. Check out the archives of this site for everything Andersson related.
In short, when it comes to this recent interview that Andersson gave, it once again confirms my opinions that the Rangers swung and missed with Andersson. While I think Vitali Kravtsov has a better upside, when it comes to these two recent first round draft picks, you have to wonder how well these players were vetted by the Rangers. Both Andersson & Kravtsov have maturity issues. And sure, you can say these guys are young and it takes time, but on the flip-side of that, there have been countless and countless of other young men, who had no issues acclimating to the league and life in the league.
When you read all of these Andersson comments, even prior to this recent interview, there is one common theme – Andersson is home sick. He could never get adjusted to America. I totally understand being new to a country and a language, but at the same time, this is the job he wanted and the career he signed up for. No one told him to enter the NHL draft. No one told him to sign with the Rangers. He could’ve stayed in the Swedish Hockey League. No one forced him to come here.
When I see that he’s up all night playing video games, like most young males around the world, you really have to question his head. Trust me, I get the appeal of video games and how it’s a way to unwind. However, as someone who first started playing video games since the days of “The Super Mario Brothers”, “The Legend of Zelda” and “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!”, even when I first started working regularly, at the age of 16, if I had to be up early the next day for work, I knew I couldn’t play “Madden” or “NHL ’98” to 3AM in the morning.
I mean look at this blog. How many times during the course of the season, do I say I have to be quick, because I have to be up early in the morning for work? By playing with his joystick all night, and admitting to that, it shows a real lack of responsibility from Lias Andersson.
In an interview that occurred earlier this season, Andersson suggested that the Rangers fed him painkillers and other substances. In this new interview, it looks like sleep medication was the other substance. However, to me, this looks all self-induced. I doubt the Rangers were pumping him with Ambien or anything like that. That was a decision Andersson made himself, during a late night session of “Tetris”.
While I’m sure Andersson is a nice guy (and there are a ton of great fan interaction stories out there about him) to me, I just don’t think he’s cut out for the NHL. That’s not a bad thing. Not many are. I will say, reading this interview did make me like him even less, especially knowing that he was the one crying for a trade several months ago. All of his issues seem self-inflicted, even if the challenges he faced were of the gold variety. However, that’s what he signed up for. To blame the Rangers, John Davidson, Jeff Gorton, David Quinn, or whoever else for his issues; to me, like anything else Lias Andersson related, it’s all immature and puerile. Hopefully the Rangers can get rid of this guy during the off-season and move on from this mountain of mess.
In a news story that is product of the time, meaning that people are quarantined, stir-crazy and coming up with things to write and talk about, I was forwarded the following tweet, which was sent out by another Rangers blogger, in the self-professed “know-it-all”, in a one Adam Hermtrans:
The funniest thing about this Hermtrans character and this tweet above? Hermtrans wants to discuss a potential trade of Zibanejad; but at the same time, he thinks it’s blasphemous and sacrilege to move on from the 73 year old cupless Henrik Lundswiss. Go figure. Let’s also not forget all my usual talking points here – not one Top 5 paid goalie has ever won a Stanley Cup in the salary cap era and how you need elite forwards to win a Stanley Cup in today’s NHL.
If there is anything that ever has had me worried about Zibanejad, it’s his history with concussions. If you talk about Zibanejad under these conditions, it’s a slippery slope. Sure, one hit could shorten his career, but really, every player risks their career in every game played. You never know what will happen. You can’t operate and run a team, using worst case scenarios and “what if’s”. Is it possible Zibanejad is one concussion away from a doctor telling him to stop playing? Sure, that’s a possibility. At the same time, Zibanejad could go on to play 10+ years in the NHL too.
To be honest, I only bring this stupid tweet up, because so many people sent it to me. Again, Hermtrans will talk until he’s blue in the face, about how Lundqvist needs to be the starter here, the Rangers aren’t treating him fairly, the Rangers should re-sign Lundqvist and all this other blah blah blah cult bullshit, but in his next breath, he’s discussing a potential Zibanejad trade. Go figure.
If you’re going to argue with me about this, you might as well save your breath, because I won’t waste my time with you – “Henrik Lundqvist is much easier to replace and has been replaceable by a cheaper option for years, while the Rangers have no one who could replace Zibanejad as a number 1 center.”
Let’s continue this magic carpet ride!
While on the topic of other Ranger writers, I was sent the following article from Sean Hacknett, who is known for plagiarizing Rick Carpiniello articles and who has had his M$G press pass removed. For whatever reason, WFAN continues to pay this ignorant dolt for crap content. No joke, you could hire someone off of Twitter, and that person could do a better job than the misinformed, and most likely plagiarized, four paragraphs of drivel that Hacknett writes.
With everyone trying to find new angles and stuff to write about, Sean Hacknett (who is another one of these “TONY DEANGELO IS BAD BECAUSE HE DOESN’T SUPPORT MY OPINION ON POLITICS” miscreants) tried to write a history article about Gordie Howe and how the Rangers could’ve once signed him. I hate to plug bad writing, full of errors and bullshit, but for reference, you can read this pile of moose poo, which comes off as a copy & paste/reworded job of an old Stan Fischler article, here: https://wfan.radio.com/articles/news/how-the-rangers-missed-out-on-signing-gordie-howe
Not mentioned once in this article, about the Rangers recruit of Gordie Howe? The biggest fact of them all – how Frank Boucher, the head coach of the Rangers at the time, PERSONALLY WENT TO GORDIE HOWE’S HOUSE, and talked to Gordie Howe and the parents of Gordie Howe. If Hacknett could pull his head out of Lundqvist’s ass for one second and actually read “When The Rangers Were Young”, he could’ve got this story from Boucher himself. Hell, in Gordie Howe’s own autobiography, he talks about this story. (Both books are reviewed on this site, check out the book review tab up top.)
Even a simple story, as old as it is and with so much information about this story being available, Hacknett couldn’t get correct. While Hacknett got some stuff right, about how Howe didn’t want to play in New York, since Howe was unfamiliar with the area and the people (sounds like Lias Andersson, huh, I kid, I kid!) the Rangers bent over backwards trying to get him, with Boucher traveling to Howe’s home, a feat which wasn’t as easy in the 1940’s, as it would be today.
And closing on this, I will freely admit this – any slight or omission of Frank Boucher from Rangers history is offensive to me! While I’m trying to be funny here, I have to say this one more time – “RETIRE FRANK BOUCHER’S #7 INTO THE RAFTERS OF MSG!”
Shit, this blog is going longer than I thought it would. Again, read at your own pace! Let’s keep on rolling and take a look at the podcast scene.
When it comes to the podcast scene, once again, I thought “The Blueshirt Underground Show” and “Up in the Blue Seats”, provided the best content for Ranger fans this week.
You can listen to the latest episode of BSU here:
My other favorite Rangers podcast also dropped a new episode this week, and that’s Ron Duguay’s “Up in the Blueseats”. You can listen to his new episode, featuring Tie Domi, by clicking the link below:
— Ron Duguay (@RonDuguay10) April 22, 2020
One of the topics in Duguay’s interview with Tie Domi, is Tie Domi’s autobiography, “Shift Work”. I reviewed that book in July of 2017. You can find that review here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/71917/
Just like in Domi’s book, in Duguay’s interview with Domi, Domi is full of positivity, but also has some funny stories to share, even coming at the expense of Duguay. Listen to the episode for the “DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY” story.
Unlike Domi’s book, Domi also talks a bit about partying, as he talks about the infamous China Club and why Ron Duguay & Ron Greschner were heroes to him.
I don’t want to give it all away here, but in the 30+ minute interview, I found Domi to have a ton of personality and was a fun interview. Of course, Domi repeats several stories from his book, but this interview is a new platform and for people who may have missed out on his book.
What I’ve enjoyed about Duguay’s podcasts, as opposed to writers or fans doing player interviews, is Duguay has relationships with all of these guys, which means the conversation flows better and personal stories are revealed. There’s no feeling out process or anything like that, as Duguay can get right into it with his interview subjects. What also made this Domi interview stick out, is that he listens to Duguay’s podcasts, and was able to refer to previous Duguay episodes, such as the one with Neil Smith. (Domi recounts his trade to Winnipeg on the podcast, a story he talked about in his book too.)
And finally, the main event of this blog – The All Time Ranger Greats.
Less than a year ago, on August 20th, 2019, I presented my “All Time New York Rangers Line-Up”:
To read that blog in full, check out this link: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/bkamericans/
In that blog and in the graphic pictured above, I put together this line-up SOLELY using the careers of players while a Ranger. In other words, no Wayne Gretzky. Furthermore, this blog was my response to a thing that NBC sports was running in the summer of 2019 – “Insert Team Here” and their All-Time Line-Up.
For what it’s worth, here is how NBC saw it:
While I don’t 100% agree with NBC’s version, at least we both agreed on the top two defensemen in Rangers history! Of note, look how NBC “cheated”, by listing Mark Messier on the left wing, rather as a centerman. While truth be told, Messier did play games at left wing, for all intents and purposes, he’s mostly remembered as a center. Center was Messier’s true position. Keep that in mind as I mosey along here.
Let me preface what I’m about to say next, with stuff I’ve been saying repeatedly during this quarantine period. All these lists and ranking stuff, is all stuff to write about during these down times. It’s all opinion. It’s just fun discussion, designed to drive debate. That’s all. As someone who loves history (seeing people forget about Sawchuk, when recently discussing the greatest goalies of all-time, also sparked the idea of doing this segment) this stuff is fun for me to write too.
For the purpose of this “All Time Greats in New York Rangers History” list/line-up, I’m looking at any player that ever donned the diagonal R-A-N-G-E-R-S on their chest. In other words, I’m not looking at players based on their career while a Ranger, I’m looking at their overall hockey career. It doesn’t matter how brief their stint was with the Rangers, I’m looking at the overall career of each player.
This list is a tough one to make. After all, the Rangers have seen 60 men of their alumni, all inducted into the Hall of Fame. And full disclosure here, when making this “All Time Greats” list/line-up, I only used Hall of Famers, with one exception – future HOFer Jaromir Jagr. I mean, duh! That has to be part of the criteria!
Since there have been so many greats in Rangers history, I’ll give you my starting six (goalie included), followed by a second six! Again, this is all fun stuff to talk about, so feel free to shout off on what you agree/disagree with in the comments section below or by email, as many of you do!
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
THE ALL TIME NEW YORK RANGERS GREATS
Left Wing: BRYAN HEXTALL
When it comes to finding the greatest left winger in Rangers history, I’m excluding Mark Messier here. Don’t fret, his name will pop up on this list soon enough.
In all honesty, coming up with the greatest Rangers left winger was the hardest thing to do when making this list. The Rangers have been much deeper at other positions in their 93+ year history. When it comes to Rangers centermen or right wingers, there are a slew of candidates to discuss. When it comes to left wingers, I see it as a three horse race, between Hextall, Adam Graves and Vic Hadfield. Of the three, only Hextall is in the Hall of Fame, which gives him the nod, at least in my opinion, for the best left winger in Rangers history.
Despite Hextall winning & leading the Rangers to a Cup, on the heralded 1940 team, before it became a topic of negativity due to 53 years of failure after that win and leading the league in goal scoring twice, the Rangers continue to shun Hextall from their rafters.
Center: WAYNE GRETZKY
I mean, who else? Do I even have to explain this?
Right Wing: JAROMIR JAGR
If Jagr didn’t lose years of his NHL career due to lock-outs and playing in Europe, who knows, he may have surpassed some of Gretzky’s all-time records, including the record for most goals scored in the NHL. As it stands, Jagr is one of the greatest players of all time. He’s also the lone player on this list to not be in the Hall of Fame, which is due to Jagr still playing. Once Jagr calls it a career, he’s a first ballot unanimous Hall of Famer.
Defensemen: DOUG HARVEY & BRIAN LEETCH
When you talk the greatest NHL defensemen of all-time, only two names are in the discussion – Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey. Harvey, while known for his days in Montreal, actually had a few good years for the Rangers, even becoming a player-coach, something that’s unheard of today. Harvey’s career accolades reads like a career criminal rap sheet – many pages and many things to talk about. Whether you like Orr or Harvey, the bottom line is these two men are the best defensemen in league history.
With this list featuring the All Time Greats in Rangers history, Brian Leetch is the second best defenseman to have ever played for the Rangers. Another Hall of Famer, and being one of the more recent players on this list, every Ranger fan is well versed in the career of a one Brian Leetch.
To me, when making this list, after listing Wayne Gretzky as the best center the Rangers ever had, this starting duo was easy-peasy to come up with.
Goalie: TERRY SAWCHUK
This is another slam-dunk. When I read social media stuff, from both reporters and fans alike, I wonder how many of these people remember that Sawchuk was once a Ranger, despite only playing in 8 games for Broadway.
I don’t know what it is about today’s generation, but every time I see these “All Time NHL Goalie” lists, it’s always a debate about Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek. While all three of them are great, Sawchuk should be the fourth name, on that proverbial goalie Mount Rushmore list.
As I’ve said repeatedly on these blogs, if you were alive and saw Sawchuk play, you will say he was greatest goalie of all time. To this day, several hockey publications state that opinion.
While Sawchuk’s Rangers career wasn’t memorable, because after all, the biggest thing Sawchuk is known for, while a Ranger, was his untimely death; he’s still the greatest goalie that the Rangers ever employed.
THE ALL TIME NEW YORK RANGERS GREATS
Left Wing: ADAM GRAVES
I’m riding the Gravy train here, as the second greatest line left winger in Rangers history. As mentioned, when it comes to Rangers Hall of Famers, there aren’t many left wing candidates to choose from. Again, you could use Mark Messier, but for the purpose of this list, I’m using guys who were truly a left winger, not guys who may have played the wing once in a while.
I give Graves the nod over Hadfield here, since Graves has the most hardware. As discussed in previous blogs, while Graves had more games to break Hadfield’s Rangers single-season goal scoring record, it was Graves who won the Cups. And hell, as talked about two blogs ago (link above) the man is a saint.
Center: MARK MESSIER
Trying to come up with a second center is a tough choice. After all, the Rangers have employed such Hall of Famers as Phil Esposito, Jean Ratelle, Frank Boucher and others. I know it would be predictable of me to go with Frank Boucher here, but Mark Messier had a career that was impeccable. Again, as talked about a lot on these blogs, it’s so hard to compare different players from different eras. While I believe Boucher’s worth with the Rangers is much more than Messier, league-wide, Messier was pretty much second-to-none, outside of his teammate, in Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all-time.
Right Wing: BILL COOK
Again, this is another tough choice, as the Rangers have had some tremendous talent at right wing, including guys like Rod Gilbert, Andy Bathgate, Guy LaFleur, Mike Gartner and others. When I came up with the best right wingers in Rangers history, Jaromir Jagr was easily my number one selection. Here, with this second line of All Time Ranger greats, and the right wing position, I battled between Cook and LaFleur.
I give Cook the edge here, because he won under harder circumstances. That said, I can see an argument for LaFleur here. I will say, I didn’t consider Gilbert here, since he never won a Cup and because many players of his era, including Phil Esposito, blamed Gilbert’s partying and lack of leadership, for the Rangers not winning a Cup during Gilbert’s heyday.
Defensemen: BRAD PARK & HARRY HOWELL
While I don’t think many would argue with me that Leetch & Harvey are the two greatest defensemen to ever wear the Rangers sweater, I also believe that no one will argue with me with Park & Howell on the second defensive pairing. Both players are Hall of Famers and had legendary careers, both with the Rangers and elsewhere. Unfortunately, neither of these men would win a Cup as a player, but Howell did get his Cup ring as a scout of the 1989-1990 Oilers team, a team that has several members on this list.
Goalie: JACQUES PLANTE
When it came to naming the second greatest goalie to ever suit up for the Rangers, in my opinion, it came down to Plante and Gump Worsely. That’s kind of ironic, as the two goalies couldn’t be more different, didn’t like each other, were on opposite ends on the mask issue and had extremely different personalities. However, there’s also a lot of similarities too – both won multiple Cups and Vezina’s with the Montreal Canadiens. (You could also argue that the Rangers missed Worsley more than the Habs missed Plante, which is a testament to how good those Hab teams were and how bad the Rangers were.)
These two men, who starred during the Golden Age of Goaltending in the 1960’s, also represented a dark time in Rangers history. And if you’re a fan of the irony, Plante won all his Cups in Montreal, at the beginning of his career, while Worsley, who was traded for Plante, would go on to win all his Cups in his latter years. Both would also be successful in their twilight years of their careers too.
If you’re looking for the guy to hang out with, have a beer with and have on your team, I think most people would prefer Worsley over Plante. However, when you look at the scope of their careers, and with Plante winning a Vezina towards the tail-end of his career with the Blues (He also posted an insane GAA and save percentage after the Vezina win with St. Louis, shared with Glenn Hall, during the 1970-1971 season with Toronto) I give Plante the edge here.
That about wraps up this manifesto. Until our next interaction, I will be working on the puzzle above. Hopefully I finish it before my next blog, so I can share a picture of it. (Then again, who knows when this puzzle will get here, as shipping times aren’t what they used to be right now. I’m not complaining about that, I’m just stating a fact. After all, I think people need medical supplies/essential items, more than I need a Father Finkin’ puzzle!)
As far as when the next update will be, I’m not sure. However, you can the next blog the second after I post it, by subscribing below: