Established in 1926, as a part of the NHL’s Original Six, the New York Rangers have quite a cherished timeline we can reflect on. “The Broadway Blue Shirts” have a past that bears four Stanley Cups, the end of a “curse” and most notably a list of historic players who have donned America’s colors for “The City that never sleeps.”
But, let’s narrow down the Rangers’ top players in franchise history — to five. Rangers that may come to mind immediately could be Adam Graves, Mike Ritcher or Ed Giacomin. Yet, they’re not on our list, so find out who is.
Here are HOHM’s top five players in New York Rangers’ history.
5.) Ron Greschner, Defenseman
Some die-hard Rangers fans are still shocked Greschner’s No. 4 hasn’t been lifted to the rafters yet at Madison Square Garden. The defenseman played his entire career, 16 seasons, with the “Broadway Blue Shirts,” and was just shy of playing in 1,000 games for the organization. The dynamic defenseman can be found in the team’s top ten for categories such as most assists (431), points (610) and penalty minutes (1226).
From 1974-1990 New York also saw Greschner tally 179 goals. The 1980 NHL All-Star also had a memorable and career high year just two years before, where he recorded 24 goals and accumulated 72 points.
4.) Henrik Lundqvist, Goaltender
“The King,” was drafted by New York in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft; yes hard to believe right? Once Lundqvist made the switch from the Swedish Professional League (SHL) to New York in the 2005-06 season he claimed his throne as King of New York from the get-go.
The Olympic Gold Medal winner leads all Ranger goalies in franchise history with regular season wins (339), shutouts (55), playoff wins (43) and is on pace this year to break Mike Ritcher’s team record of most career regular season games played, with 666. Lundqvist even added a Vezina Trophy (League’s best goalie) to his resume in 2012. It seems the only accomplishment the Swedish all-star hasn’t accomplished is to bring a Stanley Cup back to Madison Square Garden.
Regardless, “Hank” will have his number lifted to rafters at MSG, next to Ritcher’s No. 35, once he decides to retire from the position he’s been so dominate at for the last decade in the NHL.Next 3 Players In The List
3.) Rod Gilbert, Right Wing
You could argue Rod Gilbert is the greatest Ranger of all-time. The fan-favorite scored over 400 goals as a New York Ranger in 18 seasons playing in the Big Apple; while chipping in an astonishing 615 assists. The winger’s goals and assists total make him the Rangers all-time leading goal scorer with 1,021 points. He once famously played on a line known as the “GAG,” Goal A Game line. Gilbert also had 67 career playoff points in 79 games played.
The former assistant captain was the first player in Rangers’ history to have his number (7) retired, and was also inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1982.
2.) Mark Messier, Center
Where to begin with No. 2 on our list? Mark Messier had two stints with the Rangers that combined to be a total of 10 seasons. In Messier’s first year with New York (1992) he collected his second Hart Trophy (League MVP) and the Rangers also finished with the league’s best overall record — earning the President’s Trophy.
“The Captain,” then led New York to their first Stanley Cup championship, in over 50 years, in dramatic fashion during the 1994 season. After the team fell behind in the series 3-2 during the Eastern Conference Finals (New Jersey Devils) Messier paved the way for the comeback. He famously publicized and guaranteed a game six victory over the Rangers cross-town rivals in front of the New York media.
Not only did the Rangers win game six and seven to then go on and defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup to end the “curse,” but Messier had a hat trick in the “guaranteed” victory against New Jersey. Talk about legendary?
1.) Brian Leetch, Defenseman
Other than Messier’s game six guarantee the first player and thing that comes to mind when you hear or see “New York Rangers” has to be Brian Leetch. The former captain, who also humbly gave up the “C” to Messier in his return to New York in 2001, has numerous Rangers accomplishments.
Leetch is second all-time in regular season games played (1129), first all-time for assists (741) and is first all-time for goals by a Rangers’ defenseman with 240. The American-born player was a two-time Norris Trophy winner (Best defenseman) as a Blue Shirt, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) during the ’94 Cup-winning-run. And, in 1992 Leetch was the fifth defenseman in NHL history to have earned 100 points during the regular season, not too shabby.
The 10-time NHL All-Star, all with New York, is the ultimate definition of what it means to be a New York Ranger. Leetch’s No. 2 was retired in January of 2008, and the all-time great is still heavily involved with the franchise and the surrounding New York community to this day.Previous 3 Players In The List
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