“Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger”: Former Blueshirt Carl Hagelin Announces His Retirement; A Career Retrospective, Ranger Alumni Update: Phil Watson, Tex Rickard and Pete Stemkowski, Patrick Kane Ready For Return, 2023-24 NHL Preview & More

Like many Rangers before him, former Blueshirt Carl Hagelin personifies the age-old adage of, “Once A Ranger, Always a Ranger.” Number 62, also known as “Carlos,” announced his retirement from professional hockey on Wednesday, August 30th, 2023.

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. See ya summer, it’s been real.

As I write these words on Monday, September 4th, American Labor Day – the New York Rangers are now only twenty days away from their first sniff of work, their first preseason match (at Boston on 9/24) – but a week before that – the team will open up camp in preparation for the 2023-24 campaign.

In other words, stay tuned to this site, as my annual NHL Season Preview blog, and just like the season itself, is forthcoming – and that’s where I’ll post all of my thoughts and predictions about each of the 32 NHL teams, including the Rangers themselves.

And yes, stop me if you’ve heard this before – I don’t have high hopes for the Blueshirts this season, nor have much interest in the campaign either.

For yours truly, it’s all about what this “WIN NOW” team does in the postseason, and ultimately, that’s how the 2023-24 Rangers will be judged – by whatever they do in the playoffs.

The regular season, outside of the trade deadline, where the roster will then be finalized?

That’s just white noise, a mere exercise – or so I say!

If there were only 8967789676969 hours in a day, then I’d have my Tex Rickard book project done by now, amongst other things! Photo Credit: Woodlawn Cemetery

Prior to getting into all of the news of the week, including the recent retirement of former Rangers’ fan-favorite Carl Hagelin; in case you missed it, on Sunday, 9/3, I posted The Life & Times of New York’s King of Hockey, Tex Rickard.

The Rickard blog, and as previously mentioned on this site, is a teaser, and perhaps an introduction for some, to the first founder of the Rangers, a man who lived one hell of a life, George Lewis “Tex” Rickard – and a person I hope to write a book or screenplay about one day, time willing.

After all, and as Gene Wilder once said in his titular role in the 1971 classic, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”:

Photo Credit: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Former Ranger Phil Watson with the man that he considered as a father figure, the legendary “Silver Fox,” Lester Patrick. Photo Credit: The Phil Watson family

Speaking of current book projects that I’m spinning as if I were a circus performer with plates (hello Alex S. – and for my other projects, check out my last blog, which you can find here: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/82723/ ); I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently been in contact with the family of Phil Watson, and specifically, his former Hollywood actress daughter, Janet Winston, and her son (Phil’s grandson), Tony.

Watson’s daughter was named as Miss Hollywood, California in 1961, right after her father was fired by the Rangers and then became the head coach of the Boston Bruins. Photo Credit: Janet Winston

While I don’t expect anyone else to know this (that’s what I’m here for!); Winston, currently 80-years-old today, and then under her maiden name of Jan Watson, has appeared in films and television shows with legendary actors and celebrities such as Dean Martin, Adam West, Barbara Eden and many other top stars from a bygone generation. In 2023, she still receives fan mail from movie and television buffs.

In all of my writings about Watson, I’ve closed all of them with some version of the following:

“It’s sad that Watson was pretty much a recluse from the hockey world after leaving the sport in 1974. Many of the stories written about Watson, both prior to and after his passing, use accounts from other people as source material. It’s a shame that unlike his former foe Gump Worsley, Watson never wrote a book or gave a “tell-all” interview in an attempt to give his side of the stories that are out there about him. I know that I would’ve bought “FIERY: The Phil Watson Story” if Watson would have written it.”

In 1966, Watson-Winston appeared in a publicity shoot with the New York Rangers at MSG. Can you name the five Blueshirts in this picture? I’ll give you the two easy ones – Vic Hadfield and Harry Howell. Photo Credit: Janet Winston

Despite my fanaticism for all things history, whether it be the Rangers, American or otherwise; I’m also not an idiot. Then again, maybe that’s an opinion and not a fact!

I’m fully aware that a book on Phil Watson won’t be a profitable venture, but in spite of that – it’s still a project that I hope to tackle soon enough.

I’ve talked a lot about Watson in my writings, as I find him to be one of the most fascinating men in all of hockey, and most likely, a former player/head coach that not many are aware of today.

Aside from my other ambitious aspirations, I’m also thinking of launching a book series, with the working title of “RANGER ICONS,” where each volume, with a page count of 150 pages or less (a tall order for me to adhere to a page count!), will feature the life and times of otherwise unknown to the masses New York Rangers.

These books will feature a low price point ($15 or less) and provide information and facts that have never been released to the public.

While I know the interest in such an idea is low; it’s just a way for one historian to write something for future historians.

Maybe it’s a sickness, but if not me, and if not Stan Fischler, then who else?

But above all else – I’ll personally have fun doing it – and really, that’s good enough for me.

I’ll have more about the Watson project in future site updates.

Perhaps another former Ranger worthy of the “ICONS” treatment?

A Blueshirt, that like Watson during his time, was also a huge fan favorite.

Of course, I’m talking about the Swedish-born and 2011 University of Michigan graduate, #62 himself, Carl Hagelin.

While Carl Hagelin enjoyed the pinnacle of his career in Pittsburgh, where he won two Stanley Cups (2016 and 2017); one of the heroes of the 2014-15 Presidents’ Trophy winning Blueshirts will always be fondly remembered by Ranger fans. Photo Credit: NYR

Sadly, on August 30th, Hagelin, who had celebrated his 35th birthday just one week prior (August 23rd), announced his retirement.

Prior to announcing his retirement, it was thought that such a statement would be coming, as the man of many nicknames, including the obvious “Hags,” missed the entire 2022-23 season following a friendly-fire eye injury that he suffered during a Washington Capitals practice on March 1st, 2022.

As previously covered on this site, the injury, which was thought to be potentially career-ending at the time, required multiple surgeries in order to prevent Hagelin from losing his left eye, where today, he has trouble with depth perception. (Full details on this injury are covered below, in the “Tricks of the Trade” chapter.)

Complicating matters was that Hagelin also underwent the knife in February of 2023, where he endured a hip resurfacing surgery – where of note – is the same procedure/surgery that Patrick Kane received this summer.

While Hagelin’s hips are back to 100% – unfortunately, his vision never returned to what it was.

Hagelin, or as others have dubbed him as, “Swagelin,” took to Instagram to announce his retirement:

Photo Credit: Carl Hagelin

While they never won the Stanley Cup together, the former “Three Muskateers” and roommates in NYC – Carl Hagelin, Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello – represent some good times in Rangers’ history. Photo Credit: M$GN

When I think of Carl Hagelin, immediately, a bunch of different thoughts and memories come to mind, and where outside of that boneheaded trade that Senile Glen Sather once made (we’ll soon get into it) – all of my “Carlos” (that’s what his teammates called him) memories are positive – a rarity!

The Swedish Hagelin, where wouldn’t you know it, led all NHLers in the 2010-19 decade in playoff games played (128 – and with 73 of them with the Rangers), is one of the bright spots of an era in Rangers’ history, dominated by a fellow Swede himself, Henrik Lundqvist.

And in another case of “Isn’t That Amazing Suzyn?” – Hagelin and Lundqvist share a best friend too – the most successful Norwegian NHLer of all-time, the former #36 of Broadway, Mats Zuccarello.

While I’m going to share with you the Carl Hagelin chapter from my first book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden”, with you below, where once there, all of his stats, figures and history with the Blueshirts is covered; just a few thoughts about #62 following his final game played in the league:

— For many fans, especially fans from a younger generation, Hagelin, and the rest of the lot from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 teams, represent the best era of Rangers’ history that they’ve ever seen. Between the Cinderella run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and the Presidents’ Trophy win in 2015 – these two years bring smiles to people’s faces.

It’s just that 2015 Eastern Conference Game 7 loss, and what happened in the years after, that led to all of the frowns that followed – including the trade of Hagelin – where right after, he then won two consecutive Stanley Cups with a rival.

— Due to the era that he played in, the social media era – in a way, and I guess I understand why so many fans, including both men and women are obsessed with this – Hagelin’s “bromance” with Zuccarello and Brassard was the first one to ever receive true attention in the digital media age.

While players becoming best friends with each other is as old as the NHL itself; it’s not like there are photos and videos out there of Frank Boucher and the Cook brothers (Bill and Bun) on the verge of trading handjobs with each other following their meaty post-goal hugs – and as we see today with Mika Zibanejad and his BFF, Chris Kreider. (And yes, while these relationships are real, I’m just trying to be funny a bit here – so don’t take this the wrong way!)

The friendships between Rangers, both former and active, are too countless to list here. However, once social media became big, it was this happy triumvirate that first got the “Facebook Shares” and “Twitter Retweets.” Heck, the M$GN even featured a short on the trio at their apartment – a living abode that these three men once shared.

— In hindsight, and this really hit home following that horrible Hagelin-for-Etem swap – Hagelin is one of the more underrated Ranger fan favorites of all-time.

While I have Hagelin featured in my book for a potential “Rink of Honor” nomination; he was part of many strong years for the Rangers, where most of these years featured many fan-favorites, where as a result, Hagelin’s impact may fall on the wayside a bit.

What I mean here, is that you had other popular Rangers during his days in the Big Apple, including but not limited to, players such as Lundqvist, Ryan McDonagh, Kreider, Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Martin St. Louis and others.

(Heck, I’d even make case here for defenseman Kevin Klein – a true black-and-blueshirt if there ever was one. Furthermore, fourth-line role players, such as Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett, also left positive impressions.)

In addition, and this really hit home from the 2014 run through the 2015 run – the team was a more a sum of their parts than anything else.

After all, it’s not like any of these Rangers won any individual league-awards at this time – and that’s fine, if not respectable – as it’s a team game and that’s what these teams employed – a team game.

After all, it was the team’s then back-up goaltender, Cam Talbot, who helped lead the team to the Presidents’ Trophy, following the throat injury suffered by Lundqvist during the 2014-15 season.

But once the the amazing vibes from these two years were flushed in the Rangers’ Game 7 2015 Eastern Conference Final loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning – so was Hagelin too – and the Blueshirts, coincidence or not, have never come as close as reaching a Stanley Cup Final ever since.

Time flies. Nearly ten-years removed from the last time the Rangers appeared in a Stanley Cup Final, not many players from that team remain active today. Presently, only Chris Kreider remains as a Ranger, while other players, such as McDonagh, Zuccarello, Talbot, J.T. Miller, Marc Staal and Jesper Fast play today. How many of these players will still be active in one year’s time? (Of note: Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard haven’t announced their retirements, as both are currently unrestricted free agents today.) Photo Credit: NHL.com

The following text is from my first book, which was published on September 1st, 2021, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden”:

— Carl Hagelin: (2011-2015)

Carl Hagelin, known as “Carlos” by his closest friends, was born on August 23rd, 1988, in the small Swedish town of Nykvarn. Hagelin, who began his career with the Rangers, is now an NHL veteran of over ten-years – a fact which really makes the phrase “time flies” hit home!

Hagelin, a natural left-winger, was originally drafted by the Rangers during the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. A sixth-round pick who went 168th-overall in that draft; by the time the 2010’s decade ended, Hagelin had played more playoff games (128) than any other NHLer during that period of time. In addition, the Swede also won two Stanley Cups in the 2010’s. Not too bad for a sixth-round pick!

However, and also unfortunately for Ranger fans – those two Stanley Cup victories did not come with the Rangers –  as instead, they came with the much-hated Pittsburgh Penguins.

After making his bones in various Swedish leagues, Hagelin came to America, where he spent the next four years of his life getting an education at the University of Michigan. In his four years with the Wolverines, Hagelin improved each year.

During his time at university, and in his junior year, Hagelin helped the Wolverines win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) championship. In that same season, the 2009-10 campaign, he was also named to the Academic All-Big Ten.

In Hagelin’s final year of seasoning before going pro, his senior year at Michigan; the future #62 of the Blueshirts had a banner year.

Michigan went all the way to the final game of that collegiate season, but once there, lost to Minnesota-Duluth in an overtime game featuring a 3-2 final. However, and individually, Hagelin left Michigan on a high note, as he won the CCHA Best Defensive Forward award and also was named to the All-CCHA First Team. In addition, Hagelin was a runner-up (finalist) in the CCHA Player of the Year Award.

Once graduated, and just like other Swedish forwards in Rangers’ history, including several names already profiled in this book – Hagelin was now ready to show off his defensive and speedy brand of hockey to the NHL.

Immediately following the conclusion of the 2010-11 collegiate season, Hagelin signed a contract with the Rangers and then joined the Connecticut Whale (the franchise which eventually renamed themselves back to the Hartford Wolfpack) for their 2011 Calder Cup Playoff run. Unfortunately, the Portland Pirates ousted the Whale in the first round of the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs, where they won the series in six games. However, in that sixth and eventual elimination game for the Whale, Hagelin had picked up a goal, a sign of good things to come.

Hagelin started the 2011-12 season back with the Connecticut Whale – but he didn’t remain in Hartford for too long.

In total, Hagelin played in 17 games during that AHL regular season. These would be the only 17 regular season games that Hagelin would ever play for the Whale, or for that matter, in the AHL as a whole.

On November 25th, 2011, Hagelin was called up to the Rangers, where he picked up an assist in his first game. In his second game with the Blueshirts, Hagelin picked up his first-ever NHL goal, where he beat Sergei Bobrovsky of the Philadelphia Flyers. Very quickly, the speedster Hagelin had caught lightning in a bottle.

In parts of four seasons with the Rangers (games in the AHL and the 2012-13 lockout season included), Hagelin quickly became a fan favorite. Hagelin easily won over Ranger fans with his all-worldly speed; a blazing skating ability that also won Hagelin the “Fastest Skater” challenge during the 2012 NHL All-Star weekend. Hagelin’s speed, coupled with his flowing blonde locks at either side of his helmet, made him an instant hit to fans from both sexes.

Hagelin was there for all of it in the best years of recent Rangers’ playoff history, including the 2012 Eastern Conference Final run and the 2014 Stanley Cup Final appearance. Hagelin then ultimately wrapped-up his Blueshirts’ career upon completing the 2015 Eastern Conference Final – the last big run that the Rangers have had as of this writing.

Like many hockey trios and lines before him, Hagelin was part of a “Three Musketeers” group, where he shared a friendship and an apartment with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard during his years in New York. While a fellow Swede, Henrik Lundqvist, would see most Ranger fans wear his familiar #30 jersey during Hagelin’s peak in New York – it was also fairly common to see fans wearing Hagelin’s #62 on their backs.

Despite finding team success and the Stanley Cup elsewhere, statistically, Hagelin was at his best in New York. As a premier penalty killer, due to Hagelin’s breakneck speed and nose for the puck, Hagelin set career highs in goals and points with multiple seasons of 17 goals and 33+ points.

During his days with the Rangers, Hagelin was always well respected and appreciated. Unfortunately, he’s also part of a Top Ten Worst Trade of All Time in Rangers’ history.

In a trade that still irks both me, and other Rangers fans to this very day; then Rangers General Manager Glen Sather traded Carl Hagelin on June 27th, 2015, to the Anaheim Ducks, in exchange for Emerson Etem. Etem would become a poor man’s Hagelin – or at least that’s what Sather thought at the time, as “Senile Slats” didn’t want to give out a new expensive contract to Carl Hagelin. However, that’s not what happened – as Etem was awful and was soon cut by the team not even halfway into the 2015-16 season.

There must be something about the west coast that Hagelin doesn’t enjoy. Similar to Etem, Hagelin, who would remain in the NHL, wouldn’t remain in his new home of Anaheim for too long.

On January 16th, 2016, Hagelin was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins – in a deal that wound up richly rewarding both Hagelin and his new team – as Hagelin and the black-and-yellow would immediately go on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

After his run in Pittsburgh, Hagelin was traded to the LA Kings during the 2018-19 season. However, and similar to his time in Anaheim – the former Blueshirt wouldn’t last long in this new California locale either.

After just 22 games played in LA, Hagelin was traded to the Washington Capitals, a team, that at the time, was looking to defend their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. Following that season, where the D.C. franchise didn’t defend their title; on June 16th, 2019, Hagelin then signed a four-year contract with the Capitals – a deal that pays Hagelin $11M overall. As it’s been throughout his career, Hagelin’s best work comes by playing in the Metropolitan Division – a fact that Capitals’ management acknowledged by re-signing the Swede.

While it’s been years since Hagelin’s last game as a Ranger; to this very day, Blueshirt backers still talk about Hagelin with warm regards.

Since the trade of Hagelin, the Rangers have tried to fill the void, especially on their penalty kill. While there has been a modicum of some success in that department, with the name of Michael Grabner first coming to mind – the Rangers, and still to this day, have never had a player that matched Hagelin’s speed.

My four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade,” was released on September 1st, 2022.

The following text first appeared in Volume III of “Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History.”

Here it is:

DATE OF TRADE: June 27th, 2015

RANGERS ACQUIRE: Emerson Etem and a Second Round Pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (#41 – Ryan Gropp)

ANAHEIM DUCKS ACQUIRE: Carl Hagelin, a Second-Round Pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (#59 – Julius Nattinen), and a Sixth-Round Pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (#179 – Garret Metcalf)

This trade was another all-out miss – and one of the worst deals that Sather ever made.

Carl Hagelin, as previously covered in-depth in “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” (gulp-gulp-gulp), wound up becoming the best sixth-round draft pick that Sather ever had, when the general manager took “Carlos” with the 168th-overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

The Swedish native graduated from the University of Michigan in 2011, and, in time, became one of the fastest skaters in all of Rangers’ history. Affectionately known as just “Hags,” the left-winger instantly endeared himself to Blueshirt backers.

At the time of this trade, Hagelin was a restricted free agent. So rather than negotiating with a signature piece of three deep playoff runs (2012, 2014, and 2015), Sather decided to trade him instead. In return, Sather kicked the tires on Emerson Etem, who at the time was considered as a “poor man’s Hagelin.”

Just writing about this trade, one that I’ve written about many times before on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com, makes me ill. Heck, I’m trying to suppress projectile vomit as I write these very words!

Once in Anaheim, Hagelin signed a four-year deal worth $16,000,000 overall, which broke down to $4,000,000 a season. However, just months into the deal, and not playing as well on the west coast as he once did on the east coast – Hagelin was then dealt to the Penguins in January of 2016. Up next? Two back-to-back Stanley Cup victories for Hags – and with a major Rangers’ nemesis.

In the last year of his four-year deal, Hagelin was traded to Los Angeles in November of 2018. Once again, Hagelin had a tough time in the Pacific Time Zone. Three months later, in February of 2019, he was traded back to the Eastern Time Zone, as he now became a member of the Washington Capitals.

Hagelin, once again, excelled with another Rangers’ rival, and in return, was then awarded a four-year deal worth $11,000,000 overall ($2,750,000 per season) by the Capitals in the summer of 2019. Hagelin has remained in Washington ever since.

On February 28th, 2022, Hagelin, now in the third-year of his four-year deal, was the victim of a freak accident during a Capitals’ practice, where an errant high stick caught him in the eye. This injury ended his season.

The injury was so bad that a stick blade had ruptured the choroid in the back of Hagelin’s left eye, which then led to two surgeries.

Once the Capitals’ 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff run had reached its end, Hagelin spoke to the media and said:

“My vision will never return to 100%. My current status is still that the eye is healing. I’m doing everything I can to return next year. I’m optimistic that I’m gonna come back next year. It’ll be a grind of course and I’ll do everything I can this summer to be ready for camp.”

Hagelin added:

“It feels better every day. I still have some depth perception stuff. Looking down and then looking up it’s sometimes hard to get the focus in right away. That’s still a work in progress. There’ll be a lot of eye training this summer. I’m up for the challenge.”

Hagelin also brought up Marc Staal, a former teammate of his that had a similar injury:

“I played with Marc Staal in New York. He’s been a great resource through all of this. Every time after I talk to him, it’s been great for the mental aspect of it. It’s always put me in a good mood and it’s always been positive. He said it too, it’s all about patience, it takes time. At the end of the day, you have that one good eye that’s gonna carry you.”

As of this writing, Hagelin’s status for the 2022-23 season is unknown. What’s not unknown is how big of a flop Etem was for the Rangers.

Emerson Etem, a right-winger from Long Beach, California, was drafted by a team from his home state when the Ducks selected him in the first-round (29th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

Etem joined the Ducks once the NHL resumed play following the lockout and then played in 38 games during the 2012-13 season. A season later, he only played in 29 games for the Ducks, as he mainly played for their AHL affiliate team, the Norfolk Admirals, where he logged fifty games in total.

During the 2014-15 season, his last in Anaheim for the time being (he played the final three games of his 173-game NHL career with the Ducks during the 2016-17 campaign), he once again split time between the Ducks (45 games) and the Admirals (22 games).

Come the 2015-16 season, Etem, who signed a one-year deal worth $850,500 overall with the Rangers, “the poor man’s Hagelin” was very poor, as he only had scored three points in nineteen games played. He was then traded in January of 2016 to Vancouver. Needless to say, the Rangers should have just paid Hagelin. We’ll get more into Etem in just a bit.

The three draft picks included in this trade didn’t really amount to much.

Ryan Gropp, a left-winger from Kamloops, British Columbia, never made it to the NHL.

Gropp, who turned pro during the 2017-18 season, spent his entire North American career with the Rangers’ AHL and ECHL affiliates, having last played with the Hartford Wolfpack and Maine Mariners during the 2019-20 season.

When hockey resumed for the 2020-21 season, he was now off to Sweden, where as of this writing, he currently plays for the Bjorkloven IF of the SHL.

The two picks that Anaheim selected didn’t have much success either.

Garrett Metcalf, a goalie from Salt Lake City, Utah, graduated from Long Island University in 2021. He spent the 2021-22 season split between the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4 games played) and the ECHL Utah Grizzlies (9 games played).

Julius Nattinen, a left-winger from Jyvaskyla, Finland, and like Gropp and Metcalf, never played in the NHL.

Following a one-and-done 2017-18 AHL season with the San Diego Gulls, Nattinen went back home and played two seasons in the SM Liiga. After a 2020-21 season spent in the Swiss-A League, Nattinen jumped over to the SHL for the 2021-22 season, where he currently remains today, as a member of the Vaxjo HC.

Again, this trade was a complete failure. It was also unexpected at the time. Our next trade was not unexpected, but it was another failure for Sather.

While #62 will never go to the rafters of M$G, nor should it – it would be nice to see Hagelin, now retired, officially join the Rangers’ Alumni and make appearances on behalf of the franchise. Photo Credit: NHL


Thank you Hagelin – a heck of a career – and where I hope to see him back at MSG in retirement.

Up next, some rapid-fire before going home.

In a pun that’s already been beaten like a horse; Mika Zibanejad is now Mika ZibaneDAD. Photo Credit: Irma Zibanejad/Instagram

A big congratulations from yours truly goes out to Mika Zibanejad, who has had a busy summer.

After doing oo-gatz during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Zibanejad DJ’d in Sweden, served as the best man at Chris Kreider’s wedding, and on September 1st, became a parent for the first time, as he and his wife Irma used Instagram to officially introduce their new daughter, Ella Zibanejad, to Rangerstown, USA.

Let’s just hope that the new-born doesn’t negatively impact the start of his 2023-24 campaign, as it’s thought that’s what happened to CZAR IGOR last year, following the 2022 birth of his sire, Timofey Shesterkin.

Furthermore, #93 isn’t exactly known for his torrid starts during NHL seasons either.

But seriously speaking here – congratulations to the Zibanejad family.

In the grand scheme of things, hockey is secondary and family always comes first.

Enjoy the late nights Mika and Irma!

A happy 80th birthday to former Ranger and current part-time Blueshirts’ radio analyst, Peter Stemkowski, as pictured here with my good pal, Double G.

On August 25th, the former #27 of the Rangers, Pete Stemkowski, celebrated his 80th birthday. A week later, he celebrated his birthday at his Long Island home, where my buddy, Double G., attended the festivities.

Stemmer, who gave me some stories for my first book, is someone I’ll see again soon, as presently, I’m co-authoring an NHL.com feature on the 1967 Stanley Cup champion.

Once the story is posted, I’ll have more information for you about it.

Happy birthday Pete!

Former Ranger Libor Hajek, who seemingly has been a Blueshirts restricted free agent since the days of Glen Sather as GM, no longer has the New York shackles on him anymore. Photo Credit: NYR

In some more Rangers’ alumni news; on August 30th, former Rangers’ defenseman and a player that left ass indents in the Blueshirts’ press box during the Gerard Gallant era, Libor Hajek; the Czech signed a PTO deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Or as my friend Dave A. calls them – the Pittsburgh PENGAuins.)

In other words, expect Hajek to win the Norris Trophy in 2024.

Good luck to the former Ranger, who will never invoke positive memories, but who was also a victim of circumstance during his days in the Big Apple.

Both selfishly and because I think it will help the Rangers – I’m rooting for a Patrick Kane return. After all, I’m hoping to get more than two months out of my #88 Blueshirts’ jersey!

In news first broken by the Associated Press (https://apnews.com/article/nhl-patrick-kane-hip-surgery-rehab-ba16e7a97aa2e8b26ec6a9d5376cae95 ), it’s being reported that the three-time Stanley Cup champion (with the Blackhawks) and now a one-time Ranger, Patrick Kane, is expected to make his NHL return ahead of schedule.

Originally, it was thought that Kane wouldn’t be able to return to hockey until December at the earliest. It’s now being suggested that #88 may be available much sooner than that.

In the interview with the AP, Kane said the following:

“It’s just exciting to see progression and just feeling better on the ice. I’m kind of getting back to my old self, so it’s pretty exciting.

“I think we’re at the point now where, I mean, could I come back early? Yeah, probably. But does it make sense? You know, it might be better to take the full time and just make sure I’m at 105-110% instead of just 90-95%. But it’s a lot better than I was last year.”

And in the most telling comment, Kane added:

“If someone wanted to come and give an offer that I was excited about, and a situation that I’m excited about, it’s not like I wouldn’t be listening just because of the situation I’m in.”

A quick glance and reaction to Kane’s comments would suggest that the Rangers are out of the mix, at least initially.

After all, they don’t have the salary-cap room to make a blow-away offer that would make Kane “excited.”

But should Kane follow his own advice, and take his time before making his return?

Then the Rangers, in theory, would have both the cap-room and ability to make Kane “excited.”

For fans who were sick-and-tired of the “will he or won’t he?” stuff in regards to Kane last season – sorry folks.

Until Kane inks a deal on the bottom line, the rumors of his return won’t go away.

Speaking of going away; it’s now time to go home!

Up next on this site? My annual NHL season preview – where yes – I’m not going to make any new friends – or at least not here in New York. After all, and as opined before – I have the Pittsburgh Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in 2024. I’ll duck now! Photo Credit: NHL.com

Depending on my time and availability, I hope to have my both my annual NHL and Rangers season preview blog posted on this site sometime this week. If not, I’ll be back next weekend.

Until then, enjoy the final days of the summer. I told you in late June that it flies by fast!

PLUGS TIME! (Buy a book and support my Rangers’ induced therapy bills. After all, I don’t run ads on this site!)

My fourth title and tenth book is now available for preorder!

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History,” is now available for preorder.

For complete information, please visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/rangerkillers/

The hardcover version of my first book, available now at Amazon.com

My second plug of tonight’s blog – the mandatory plug for my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden.”

As mentioned previously, the book is now available in hardcover, in paperback and in Kindle formats. To purchase a copy of the book, visit this link:


For those still looking for signed paperback versions of the book, I have re-ordered more copies. I now have a few signed copies for sale at $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:

Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today

My four-volume set of books, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is a game-by-game recount of the Rangers 2021-22 campaign.

My second title as an author, “One Game at a Time – A Season to Remember,” is now available in eBook, paperback and hardcover formats.

To obtain signed copies, visit: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/onegamebook/

To purchase all four volumes on Amazon, visit: Amazon.com – “One Game at a Time.”

The greatest volume-set of books on Rangers’ history today!

“Tricks of the Trade – A Century-Long Journey Through Every Trade Made In New York Rangers’ History,” a four-volume set of books that meticulously covers every trade made in franchise history, is now on sale.

All four volumes of the title can be purchased on Amazon.com and are presented in three different formats – eBook, paperback and hardcover.

To purchase Volume I: Conn Smythe (1926) – Craig Patrick (1986), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume II: Phil Esposito (1986) – Neil Smith (2000), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume III: Glen Sather (2000-2015), visit Amazon.com

To purchase Volume IV: Jeff Gorton (2015) – Chris Drury (2022), visit Amazon.com

To purchase signed copies of all four volumes, visit https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:

Alexis Lafreniere Drops Bat; Picks Up Pen & Re-Signs with NYR, Rangers Off-Season Finally Complete; Full “Somber Summer” Recap, Chris Drury Overhauls Staff But Does It Matter? Panarin In Town After Gun Charge, Alumni Updates; Tex Rickard, Ron Greschner, Eddie Giacomin & More

“Top Gun” Artemi Panarin Saves His Shooting For the Off-Season; Busted in Russia on Gun Charge, Alexis Lafreniere Still Unsigned, RIP BIV & More

The Rangers’ Historically Slow Off-Season Continues; Alexis Lafreniere Remains Unsigned, Blueshirts Jack Up Ticket Prices; The Failure Known As “The M$G Experience,” BSU Appearance, The Top Ten Things That James Dolan Should Do as Owner, Kreider Still Sick as the Fans, Penguins Wisely Go “All In” For “Not My Trophy Winner” & More

“The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History” Set for Release, Blueshirts Bring the Cincinnati Cyclones Into the Mix, NYR Alumni Update, Tarasenko Teetering & More

If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:

Now on sale!

Don’t forget to order my recently released four-volume set of books, “Tricks of the Trade!”

If you don’t order through me, all four volumes are now available on Amazon.com

For more details, check out: https://bluecollarblueshirts.com/tricksofthetrade/

Thanks for reading.


Sean McCaffrey


@NYCTHEMIC on the Tweeter machine

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2 thoughts on ““Once a Ranger, Always a Ranger”: Former Blueshirt Carl Hagelin Announces His Retirement; A Career Retrospective, Ranger Alumni Update: Phil Watson, Tex Rickard and Pete Stemkowski, Patrick Kane Ready For Return, 2023-24 NHL Preview & More

  1. The other Rangers in the photo, from the sweet spot of my youth!

    Jimmy Neilson, Reggie Fleming, Wayne Hillman

    All best Sean, keep up the great work…..

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