By Ryan Bertone
In an effort to get away from the stress that is the 2013-14 New York Rangers, I decided to assemble the best line and goalie from the plethora of legends who have taken the ice for the Blueshirts in the club's 88 year history.
Mark Messier (C)- The Captain, the Messiah, whatever you want to call him, Mark Messier is the most beloved Ranger of all time. Anyone who can backup a guarantee with a third period hat trick in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to keep their team alive deserves to be on this list. I recognize Messier as the greatest leader in NHL history. His determination, his will to win, making every teammate around him better; nobody leads like Messier. Mark proved to be the heart and soul of the Rangers Stanley Cup run in 1994 as he led the team with 12 goals during the 1994 playoffs which is a team record. He lead the Rangers to their highest point total in franchise history with 112 in 1994. In his first season with the Rangers (1991-92), Messier won his second Hart Trophy after totaling 35 goals, 72 assists and guiding the Rangers to the best record in the NHL. Although he doesn't lead the club in any scoring statistics, his impact on the organization will resonate forever in the heart's of Rangers fans. Messier was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
Vic Hadfield (LW)- Originally known as an enforcer, Vic Hadfield, the other #11, became a key play maker for the Rangers after being assigned to the GAG (Goal a Game) line with Rod Gilbert and Jean Ratelle. Once the line was assembled, Hadfield would score a minimum of 20 goals a season for the remainder of his Rangers career including a 50-goal performance (the first in Rangers history) in the 1971-1972 season. Hadfield captained the team to the 1972 Stanley Cup Finals, tallying 7 goals, 9 assists during that playoff run. Hadfield, who was notoriously known for throwing Bernie Parent's mask into the Madison Square Gardens crowd during a line brawl in a 1971 playoff game, played in over 839 games for the Blueshirts.
Rod Gilbert (RW)- Nicknamed "Mr. Ranger", Rod Gilbert is one of the most popular Rangers to ever put on the jersey. Gilbert has netted the most goals in team history with 406 and holds the record for most points with 1,021. In his 15 full NHL seasons with the Rangers, Gilbert broke 20 goals 12 times, 30 goals five times and also had a career-best 43 goal season in 1971-72. He was the first Ranger to have his number retired. Growing up a young hockey player, I always had to wear number 7 and it was because of Gilbert that I loved the number. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982.
Ron Greschner (D)- A 1974 draft pick, who played all 982 games of his career with the Rangers, Greschner was known for being an offensive defensemen as he totaled 179 goals and 431 assists for 610 points, which puts him in the Blueshirts top 10 in both points and assists. He was Brian Leetch before Brian Leetch. His best season came in 1980-1981 where he netted 27 goals, which was rarely seen by defensemen at the time. When he retired in 1990, Greschner was the Rangers' all-time leader in points, goals and assists by a defensemen.
Brian Leetch (D)- A defenseman who played the game the right way. Known for being humble and soft spoken, Brian Leetch did all his talking on the ice. A home-grown player, Leetch was a Calder and two-time Norris Trophy winner. Leetch was also the first American to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. Oh yeah, he's also a Stanley Cup champion. His resume is truly stellar. He is second in games played (1129) and points (981) for the club. He also leads the team in assists with 741 as well as holds the Rangers record for goals (240) and points (981) by a defenseman. He is one of only five NHL defensemen to score 100 points in a season with his 102-point campaign in 1991–92. Leetch is someone who not only influenced his teammates, but thousands of defensemen after him.
Mike Richter (G)- "Save by Richter". These three words have been uttered countless times by every Rangers fan. While Henrik Lundqvist will likely break the record, no other goaltender in the history of the organization has more wins than Mike Richter (301). His best season came in 1993-1994 where he earned 42 wins and a goals against average of 2.57. His penalty shot save on Pavel Bure in Game 4 the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals is said to be the turning point of that series. A fantastic playoff goalie, Richter became only the eighth player to record four shutouts in one playoff season. Known for his unorthodox and acrobatic style, Richter routinely made circus-type saves. Richter was named MVP of the 1994 All Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Sadly knee injuries and ultimately concussions cut short an otherwise outstanding career.
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bring back messier now we need a win at all cost type player that the rest of the team can feed on,not even gretsky played that style
the 94 cup team should have never gotten rid of zubofv,w/sergi on the point as a rookie the rangers had the best power play in the league,w/him and leetch they had a mainstay i feel to be alegitimate contender every year,but back then the rangers motto was go for the gusto every year,although niel smith was the architect for the 94 team 4 years later they were done,and for 7 straight years becuase of the win now they and horrible drafting we didnt even make the playoffs and were the embaresment of the entire league
i know jagr didnt play for us long but hes one of the best forwards in the history of hockey let alone the rangers
Nice choices. I might give Ratelle the nod over Mess, only because Mark spent most of his playing years in teams besides the Rangers and Rat was super awesome. and Gresch, yeah but I might give Brad Park a look, he would have taken a lot of titles and trophies but there was a guy named Bobby Orr playing in that era as well
Right wing: Rod Gilbert. No one was happier to sip champagne from the cup in'92. (Or was is a Budweiser/Champagne mix?).
Left wing: sorry Vic (and we could use your grit now), it's Bun Cook. Look it up. Scored game winner in 1-0 game over Toronto to win '33 cup.
Great post! I'm going to go sacrilegious and say, no, Mark Messier was not the greatest center. It was Jean Ratelle. Classy, dignified, perrenial Lady Byng winner. Had he not broken his ankle in'72, we would have won it. Ranger through and through. (And absolutely no disrespect the 'The Captain').
Runner up the most underrated player in hockey; Walter Tzachuck.
(I'm only keeping Leetch - maybe Richter, from '92).
Gilbert was my hero. Most don't even know about his spine injury that almost cost him his career. Those were the days for the NYR. If Ratelle hadn't broken his ankle, we would have won it all in '72. The Garden was so awesome, you couldn't hear yourself talk...sitting up all nite for playoff tix in the plaza....you could not hear the anthems...no exaggeration!!
For all those... who agree or disagree..... my thoughts. Mark Messier.... The greatest NY Ranger ever.... what he means and has meant to this franchise....is undeniable. ...
Looking back... coaching experience or not. He should have been given the job... On the value of what he brings as a former player, leader and human being
We really need that in our organization and team right now and going forward.. He has cups on different teams in different confrences.....and knows whatit takes to win them
what these players would learn from him as a former player and leader out weigh and lack of coaching experience....
@BetweentheworldsPark could ignite the team...even put the team on his shoulders. Gresh had great moves but not the "I'm taking over" aura of Park. Do you think Bruin fans would give the nod to Ratelle over Espo?
@BulldogLineI'm with you on Bun.
@BulldogLineIf not the most underrated...perhaps the strongest. I never saw anyone knock him on his butt with a check or a punch. All the Espo Bruins always said he was the toughest guy to play against on The Rangers
Used to love the way Chadwick would say Tzachuck's name!
Brad Park agrees
@ejirishSounds like the Garden now. Oh wait...
Don't have a best...gotta think on that one. Worst, easily Trottier. Muckler and Low were pretty bad too.
@KreiderisTheChosenOneBest: Torts. Worst: AV. lol
Yes. The time has started. Bring Back Messier chants and signs at the Garden? O I HOPE SO
Meant most to the franchise? Yep. I agree. Hands down. I would've hated for him to have this gig while Sather is feeding him players. No win situation for him.
@Kevin DeLury@BulldogLineHey guys I know you guys know your stuff but I also know neither one of you ever saw "The Bunster" play. His numbers, I'm sure are awesome. Did he bring the same kind of toughness that Vic played protecting his line mates? I have no idea!
Hadfield created ice for no. 7 and No. 19. By the way, when I was still in diapers I saw a sixteen year old beat Hadfield in an exhibition against The Bruins. The kid wore No. 4.
@Say my Name@mando24179Yo! Mando I am with you on "The Captain" from about 10 different perspectives.Say My Name........what you said is or would be sooooo true. My feeling is that Mess only wants Sather's job. He doesn't want to Coach The Rangers.
I know you probably know that Mess's dad was his agent and Mess wanted to learn the management side of running a team from his dad's negotiations. Mess never took coaching offers from The Oilers. He also turned down offers to Coach in the WHL.
@Say my Name@mando24179I'm with you on that one mando for the exact reasons you state, and my arguments for him get ripped apart here with that old cliche "zero experience". It's a mentality and culture of winning that count and he did kind of act like a 2nd coach in '94 when Keenan was losing respect
tell me the last time the garden sounded like this....goosebumps.
@mando24179I think what Say my Name is saying......and I don't pretend to speak for him for one second.....is that an inspiring captain/coach can
(1) only light the inner fire in players who either have lit their own inner fire already (like Kreider) or a coach
(2) can light the inner fire of those who are close to playing with that level of inner motivation.
Messier would never be able to motivate Richards (the glider), MDZ etc.
It is not because Mess can't motivate them. It is because they will not choose (by an act of their will) to light their own inner fire in response to Mess.
And he bolted for monwy after Gretzky took a pay cut so they could play together. he's just a dude who was really good and had a huge ego but still cried a lot. Tired of the over romanticism. We bought that cup and he was a glorified long-term rental. Oiler for life
But guess what? EVERY team believes. Some just also happen to have really good players. would like messier in arniel's spot to start.
He certainly wanted to stay in NY, but let's not sugarcoat this. He went where the money was, and VAN gave him a ridiculous overpriced contract, which he bolted for. Mess, undeniably was a great player, a legend, a great leader, a great NYR, but my problem with Mess is that he's shown TWICE that he's not as loyal as he makes himself out to be.
is this Mark talking??? Mark, is this you? LOL Come back to us....but kill Slats first. We won't tell. Haha
Dude. ..... All u have to do is make the believe. As he did against the devils. Down 3-2. And we won. Same against the caucus 3-2 and we won the cup
Motivation. And belief. Can make the underdog. Find it with on themselves to win or at least play like winners
Love him, but you overestimate him. he didn't find a way to win in Vancouver. There are limits. Right man has to be in the right place.
With this crew?? No way. Can't teach heart. He didn't give the 94 team heart, only focused it. Tik, Larmer, Sarge, Graves, McT, etc...? These guys had fire in the belly. The team today...not even close. Mess would've failed...