Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. It’s award season for the New York Rangers, where for the third time in as many nights, Chris Kreider takes home another prestigious prize. However, unlike his solo wins of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and the Mr. Ranger Trophy – Kreider shares this honor with his goaltender, Igor Shestyorkin.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, I’m going to share an excerpt of my book, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” with you below. (If you haven’t picked up a copy already, you can buy it here: Amazon.com ) Once explaining the award, I’ll then get into the 2022 winners and the voting.
In 1952, the official fan club of the New York Rangers (when fan clubs had more power and influence than they do today), created the “Frank Boucher Fan Trophy,” which was a trophy that honored the most popular Ranger every year. The award would last until 2010, upon the dissolution of the fan club due to the age of the internet.
Here are all of the winners of this prestigious award when the fan club voted on it:
1951–52 Don Raleigh
1952–53 Wally Hergesheimer
1953–54 Johnny Bower
1954–55 Edgar Laprade
1955–56 Gump Worsley
1956–57 Andy Bathgate
1957–58 Andy Bathgate
1958–59 Andy Bathgate
1959–60 Dean Prentice
1960–61 Gump Worsley
1961–62 Andy Bathgate
1962–63 Gump Worsley
1963–64 Rod Gilbert
1964–65 Harry Howell
1965–66 Harry Howell
1966–67 Harry Howell
1967–68 Rod Gilbert
1968–69 Eddie Giacomin
1969–70 Walt Tkaczuk
1970–71 Dave Balon
1971–72 Jean Ratelle
1972–73 Jean Ratelle
1973–74 Brad Park
1974–75 Rod Gilbert
1975–76 Rod Gilbert
1976–77 Rod Gilbert
1977–78 Pat Hickey
1978–79 Phil Esposito
1979–80 Phil Esposito
1980–81 Ed Johnstone
1981–82 Nick Fotiu
1982–83 Mark Pavelich
1983–84 Barry Beck and Nick Fotiu
1984–85 Anders Hedberg and Mike Rogers
1985–86 John Vanbiesbrouck
1986–87 Walt Poddubny
1987–88 Walt Poddubny
1988–89 Guy Lafleur
1989–90 Brian Mullen
1990–91 Mike Richter
1991–92 Mark Messier
1992–93 Mike Gartner
1993–94 Adam Graves
1994–95 Mark Messier
1995–96 Mark Messier
1996–97 Mark Messier
1997–98 Wayne Gretzky
1998–99 Mike Richter
1999–00 Mike Richter
2000–01 Brian Leetch
2001–02 Mike Richter
2002–03 Mike Dunham
2003–04 Eric Lindros
2005–06 Jaromir Jagr
2006–07 Henrik Lundqvist
2007–08 Sean Avery
2008–09 Blair Betts
2009–10 Henrik Lundqvist
In 2020, I decided to bring back the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy, with permission from Boucher’s granddaughter, Frankie Baird.
To fill in the missing years, I went back and analyzed each season in order to determine winners.
Here are the winners that I came up with for the 2010-11 through 2018-19 seasons:
2010-11: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
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 a case for guys like Ryan Callahan and Sean Avery. However, while many Ranger fans wore Callahan jerseys, no one was more popular than Henrik Lundqvist.
While in the first half of this decade, the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award was won by Ryan Callahan on multiple occasions, it was Lundqvist who usually won the team’s MVP award – just as he did during this season.
2011-12: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
While Lundqvist had already “arrived,” in regards to league-wide popularity; this was the best season of Lundqvist’s career, as Lundqvist also won the Vezina this season.
While Callahan remained popular, it was Marian Gaborik who picked up 41 goals this season and impressed the fans.
Whether you want to say that Lundqvist’s best years were a direct result of the system that John Tortorella employed or not – the fact is, HEAD AND SHOULDERS (pun intended) – Lundqvist was the most popular Ranger this season. Once again, he was also the team’s MVP, in addition to being the focal point of all Rangers’ advertising.
2012-13: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
I know, I know, I know – long-time readers of BlueCollarBlueShirts.com and even Frankie Baird herself, 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 trophy four times or more – no one has ever won it four years in a row, that is until now.
In my opinion, had the original Rangers’ fan club existed during this time, Lundqvist would’ve been the first person to win this award four times in a row. That said, I have brought back the Frank Boucher Trophy – so Lundqvist IS the first person to win this trophy four years in a row!
Historically, when you look at Lundqvist winning this award four times in a row and when compared to the others; it just tells you how popular Lundqvist truly was. It also tells you that Lundqvist didn’t have a true number two at this time.
While Callahan came borderline close of matching Lundqvist’s popularity, Callahan was never truly able to knock Lundqvist off of his perch. It just goes to show you how these Ranger teams were during this period of time.
In the 1950s and 1960s, this honor bounced around between guys like Worsley, Bathgate, Howell and Giacomin. In the 1970s, this award mostly bounced around the GAG line and Giacomin. In the 1980s, it was up for grabs. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the award was decided amongst “the Core Four of ’94” and Gretzky. When it comes to the early years of the 2010s – it was the Henrik Lundqvist show.
2013-14: HENRIK LUNDQVIST
Lundqvist ties Rod Gilbert for the most Frank Boucher Fan Trophies with this win, five in all. Five straight at that.
In this Stanley Cup Finalist season for the Rangers, this is when you first saw new faces gain popularity, like Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. This was also the final season of Ryan Callahan’s time in New York, who may have won this award had he not been traded during the season’s trade deadline. Why would Callahan be considered here? It was this season where Callahan’s jersey outsold the jersey of Henrik Lundqvist.
Of note, Ryan McDonagh won the team’s MVP award this season. However, McDonagh still wasn’t at the level that Lundqvist was at, in regards to fan popularity and production.
2014-15: MATS ZUCCARELLO
This was the season where Lundqvist suffered a throat injury, thus limiting his time on the ice. In turn, Cam Talbot had a phenomenal second half of the season enroute to winning the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. (Rick Nash won the Rangers’ MVP award this season.)
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 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Carl Hagelin was popular. Nash was popular. McDonagh was popular. However, this was the season where you saw an uptick in Zuccarello jersey sales and his face featured on Rangers’ 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 during the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs – who knows, maybe these Presidents’ Trophy winning Rangers would have won the Cup.
2015-16: MATS ZUCCARELLO
This is the first season where Lundqvist’s decline became noticeable. It was also around this time where Zuccarello somewhat usurped Lundqvist as “the most popular Ranger.”
To be fair here, while Zuccarello jerseys were flying off of the shelves; at this point, Lundqvist had logged ten seasons with the Rangers. People already had Lundqvist jerseys. That said, in this season, Antti Raanta was the better goalie of the two. In addition, this was Zuccarello’s best season in the NHL, as #36 logged career highs in goals and points. The “ZUUUUUUC” chants were part of every game at MSG during this season.
Of note, Zuccarello won his first Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award this season too, which makes Zuccarello part of a small group of men who have won both the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy.
2016-17: MATS ZUCCARELLO
Just like other Rangers before him, Zuccarello wins the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy for the third year in a row. Historically, this was also the final season of an old era, a “pre-rebuild” season, if you will.
Once again, in net, Raanta was challenging Lundqvist, and head coach Alain Vigneault would bench Lundqvist during stretches of the season. Conversely, Zuccarello was tops on the team in points and assists. While Ryan McDonagh won the team’s MVP award this season; the captain’s popularity came nowhere close to matching Zuccarello’s.
In addition, Zuccarello won both the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and the Frank Boucher Trophy this season – and for the second consecutive year.
2017-18: MATS ZUCCARELLO and HENRIK LUNDQVIST
While you may think naming two winners here is a cop-out – this isn’t unprecedented either. After all, in two consecutive years during the early 1980s, the Rangers Fan Club named two co-winners of this award. In addition, the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award also had two winners in 1990.
This was the season where the Rangers sent out “THE LETTER,” where the Rangers’ front office announced their intentions of rebuilding the team. During this season, Zuccarello once again led the team in points and assists. With guys like Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta now gone and earning starting pay elsewhere; Lundqvist was easily the best goalie on the team as well.
In another note, with Zuccarello’s BFFs (best friends forever) of Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard traded away, the bond between Zuccarello and Lundqvist grew. How fitting that they win this award together!
In the history of this trophy, Lundqvist is now the all-time winner of this honor with six wins. In addition, with this win, Mats Zuccarello is now a four-time winner of this trophy too.
2018-19: MIKA ZIBANEJAD
With the Rangers continuing their rebuild, which included selling off nearly everyone, and combined with the continued decline of Henrik Lundqvist – Mika Zibanejad would easily win the team’s MVP award and the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award this season.
Zibanejad, who was really coming into his own with the team this season, led the team in goals, assists and points. With Zuccarello now gone, Chris Kreider in a funk, and Lundqvist nearing the end – Mika Zibanejad – HANDS DOWN – wins the Frank Boucher Trophy in this trying 2018-19 season for the Blueshirts.
In 2020, I revived the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy. Here are the winners from the last two seasons:
2019-20: ARTEMI PANARIN
Like any other official Rangers trophy, fan award or anything like it during this 2019-20 season; when it comes to naming the most popular Ranger, the MVP of this team or the best Ranger – it’s a two-horse race between Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad.
As you may know, this 2019-20 season was the COVID-19-plagued season. That said, had the regular season continued without issue, and had the Rangers played out their final string of regular season games – Panarin would’ve hit 100 points (Panarin finished with 95 points). In addition, Panarin led all Rangers in the assists department, with 63 overall.
While Panarin had a Hart Trophy candidate season, had the pandemic not shut down hockey, Zibanejad may have hit 50 goals too. (Mika finished with 41 goals in 57 games played.) However, what gives Panarin the edge here is that prior to the pandemic, Zibanejad had missed 13 games. Furthermore, and this is no slight on Zibanejad at all – Panarin made his teammates better too. Just ask Ryan Strome.
At the end of the day, this Frank Boucher Trophy honors popularity. I saw more Panarin jerseys than Zibanejad jerseys being worn by Rangers fans this season. In addition, I saw Panarin’s face as the emphasis of Rangers’ advertising more than I saw Zibanejad’s face being featured by the club.
I thought about making Zibanejad and Panarin co-winners here, but due to the fact that Panarin was a Hart Trophy Finalist, I had to give Panarin the nod over Zibanejad. For what it’s worth, the Rangers also named “The Breadman” as their team MVP.
2020-21: ADAM FOX
Obviously, due to the pandemic, this season is tougher to judge than previous seasons. However, when you break it all down, there’s nobody else that deserved the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy more than Adam Fox did in 2021. In a down season for the Rangers, Fox was the brightest star and created the most positivity due to Fox’s Norris Trophy winning season.
With other Rangers having so-so seasons and other Ranger distractions, perhaps the most off-ice distractions in all of franchise history; Fox was the most consistent Ranger and played at a high level all season. Fox became one of the team’s most dynamic defenseman in some time, where, right or wrong, Fox has even drawn comparisons to Brian Leetch.
During the past decade, Henrik Lundqvist was a slam-dunk candidate and a six-time winner of the Frank Boucher Trophy. In 2021, Adam Fox may be in the same boat.
With the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award recently honoring fan favorites, it’s no shock to see Fox win both of these honors this season. Even better for Fox, he also won the Rangers Team MVP award.
When I first brought back the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy in 2020; it was a solo missive, where just like how I filled in the missing years – I just named the winners myself.
Here was the criteria that I used when coming up with winners from 2011-2021, where keep in mind, this award honors the biggest fan favorite and most popular player on the team:
— Fan reaction
— Jersey sales
— Worth of a player’s autograph
— Community service/charity work
— Bond with fans
— The featured face of Rangers marketing/advertising
—- Player ability/amount of times featured as one of the “three stars of the game.”
To bring back the original spirit of the award/trophy, starting this season, the 2021-22 season and continuing on during the seasons ahead; I opened up voting for the Frank Boucher Fan Trophy.
This season, I received nearly 700 votes, 698 in total, via Twitter, Facebook, emails, face-to-face interaction, phone calls and after several friendly chats at the “Molly Wee,” a bar located a block away from MSG.
The votes broke down as such:
348 votes for Igor Shestyorkin
324 votes for Chris Kreider
21 votes for Mika Zibanejad
4 votes for Jacob Trouba
1 vote for Adam Fox
After seeing the final results of the voting, you may be asking – “why isn’t CZAR IGOR the sole winner of the 2022 Frank Boucher Trophy?”
At this time, let me explain myself, with some bullet-points:
— There’s no way that I could get votes from every fan of the fan base. If I stood outside of Madison Square Garden, both prior to and after every game, I’m sure the end result would’ve been the same – a neck-and-neck race between CZAR IGOR and “CK52.”
— This trophy is designed to honor fan favorites. A difference of 24 votes isn’t much, nor is this trophy solely intended to generate a black-and-white winner. The voting, nor this award, doesn’t need precision, as if this was a NASA experiment and/or rocket launch.
— The key word of the “Frank Boucher Fan Trophy,” is the word “FAN.” In a season where two men were most certainly fan favorites, there was no reason to disappoint nearly half of the fan base by just naming one winner.
— In a huge regular season for the Rangers, a season full of positivity, milestones and team success – I believe in the philosophy of “the more, the merrier.”
— As the self-appointed “judge” of this trophy, I rather promote as much greatness as possible – greatness that both CZAR IGOR and Chris Kreider definitely displayed this season.
Let’s now get into these 2022 co-winners.
2021-22: CHRIS KREIDER AND IGOR SHESTYORKIN
Chris Kreider, the lone holdover from the last successful era of franchise history, when the Rangers came close on three separate occasions in their quest to win the Stanley Cup (2012, 2014 and 2015), and now in his tenth full season with the Blueshirts; “CK52” has not only emerged as the unofficial captain of the team – but he’s experiencing the best season of his career too.
Prior to this season, Kreider scored 28 goals a piece during the 2016-17 and 2018-19 seasons – his career-highs. During this 2021-22 season, he now has 52 goals – where he’s nearly doubled his previous career-bests.
I’ve talked so much about Kreider all season, including during this week when “CK52” won both the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award and the Rod Gilbert “Mr. Ranger” trophy.
Lost in Kreider’s leadership, his status as the longest-tenured Ranger, his charity work, his penalty killing, and his 52 goals, is this – he currently has 25 assists – which also matches a career-high. (Kreider previously picked up 25 assists during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons. In addition, his 77 points are a career-high too.)
It’s also worth noting that Kreider has a few assists this season during empty net situations, where if he hadn’t put the team above his own individual numbers – he may very well have 55 or more goals right now – which would’ve broken Jaromir Jagr’s franchise record of 54 goals. It’s situations like these which makes him such a leader, both on-and-off of the ice.
Of all the Ranger skaters, no one has been more consistent than Chris Kreider.
The “Casper Kreider” jokes from seasons’ past feel long dated and from a bygone era. While CZAR IGOR is the man in the net – this is Kreider’s team. All that’s missing is the “C” on his sweater.
It may have taken some time for Kreider to finally hit the peak of his powers, but as time goes on, we’re seeing more players turn it on as they pass the age of 30. Kreider, with a birthday of April 30th, 1990, will turn 31 years old once the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs commence.
While fellow skaters Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox are huge fan favorites too – like everything else this season – this is Kreider’s year.
CZAR IGOR, in his first full 82-game season with the Rangers, had a phenomenal showing. It’s essentially a lock that he will win his first Vezina Trophy later this Spring – if not the Hart Trophy too.
The Russian goaltender did most of the heavy lifting for the Rangers during the first half of the season, where if it weren’t for fluke plays and questionable defense – instead of leading the league in most one-goal games allowed, he’d be leading the league in shutouts.
Shestyorkin will finish the season as the league-leader in both the goals allowed average (2.07 GAA) and save percentage (.935) statistics. His 36 wins on the season are only three shy of fellow comrade, Sergei Bobrovsky in Florida – a Bobrovsky who had a much better team in front of him than Igor did.
Ranger fans, who have loved their goalies since the founding of the franchise in 1926, have taken to Igor like a fish to water.
With a record of 36-13-4, in all 53 of Igor’s games, including games on the road (Ranger fans travel well), it’s his name that’s chanted the loudest, as “IGOR! IGOR! IGOR!” chants echo throughout NHL arenas.
Previously, when compiling this award, I looked at Ranger jersey sale figures and also went on what I saw with my own two eyes around MSG and the streets of NYC. Currently, there are no 2021-22 Ranger jersey sale figures released, but as someone who has gone to fifteen games this season – there are plenty of #31 jerseys on the backs of Ranger fans – just like there are with Kreider’s #20.
Chris Kreider, who came close to winning it all, lived through a rebuild and is now enjoying this current run; he has the been the Rangers’ best skater of the season. Only CZAR IGOR’s work in net rivals Kreider’s historic season, where both players deserve Hart Trophy consideration.
And while Kreider wins his third award/trophy this week – it’s most likely CZAR IGOR who will be named as Team MVP.
It’s been a tremendous season for the Rangers, where many players have set individual milestones and career-highs. Even with all of this excellence and terrific success – it’s Chris Kreider and CZAR IGOR who stand tall among all. The fans surely appreciate it.
Again – congratulations to Kreider and Shestyorkin on their success and all of the awards, hardware and recognition.
As far as anything else from the streets of Rangerstown, USA – the Rangers didn’t practice on Thursday. We’ll find out what Gallant will do with his line-up sometime around 5PM Friday.
Also – I hope to have the 2021-22 Final Season Report Card blog for you this weekend. I’ll try to get a playoff preview blog up too.
And has anyone else stopped to notice the irony about Friday’s night tilt with the Capitals?
A year following all of the Tom Wilson drama from last season – the Rangers can determine who the Capitals will play during the first round of the playoffs.
And should the Rangers host the Capitals during the first round of the playoffs next week – the storylines will write themselves. Hell, I’d imagine that most members of the hockey media are rooting for this first-round match-up!
Thankfully, if the Rangers should play the Capitals – the games will be aired on M$GN, which means we won’t have to listen to ESPN try to set a Guinness World Record for the most amount of times the name “Tom Wilson” can be said during a three-hour broadcast!
My first 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 $25 a pop (includes shipping price) through me directly. Here is all the information on that:
Order “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters of Madison Square Garden” Book Today
Here are my last few blogs, in case you missed them:
NYR/MTL 4/27 Review: Chris Kreider Wins Rod Gilbert’s “Mr. Ranger” Award; Rangers Lose Preseason Game, Gallant Opts For Rest; Friday’s Finale in Question, Goody Got It; Georgiev Doesn’t, Jones Shines; Gauthier Whines, Kakko Returns, MSL, M$GN & More
NYR/CAR 4/26 Review: Chris Kreider Wins The Steven McDonald Award; “CK52” Ties Adam Graves Too, Rangers Lose Copp & Panarin; Both A-Okay, NYR Faceoff Woes Continue; Zone Draws a Killer, Playoff Picture; NYR Have Options, Tony DeAngelo, Lundqvist/NYPD & More
The Final Countdown For the New York Rangers: NYR Look To Finish 2021-22 Season on a High Note; Chytil, Copp & Kakko Return, Award Season; Kreider Nominated For Masterton, “Turk Talk” & More
If you haven’t already, subscribe to this blog for the next update:
Up next: Game 82, at home, against the Capitals.
As always here, thanks for reading and…
LET’S GO RANGERS!