So beginning today, Blueshirt Banter will begin a series on the greatest players to wear each number for the Rangers. Some are going to be obvious, some are not. Either way, we think you are going to enjoy taking a look back at some of the great players that have donned the Blueshirt.
Beginning at Number 1, obviously we will start with the man who has his name hanging in the rafters with this number, goaltender Eddie Giacomin.
Eddie began his career with the Rangers in 1965, and would become a mainstay on Broadway for eleven seasons. In the early 1970's, Giacomin would split time in goal with Gilles Villemure, as part of then Rangers GM and Coach Emile Francis' revolutionary goaltender platoon. The two-goaltender system would pay off for the goaltenders in the 1970-71 season, when Giacomin and Villemure were named co-winners of the Vezina trophy, and in the 1971-72 season, when the two would lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Eddie was an acrobatic goaltender, often moving out beyond the crease and wandering around the defensive zone.
"I came out, when I had to, in order to beat an incoming forward to the puck," Giacomin told Hockey Pictorial in 1971. "Sometimes I go behind the net and trap the puck along the boards like Jacques Plante. I don't think any of our defensemen thought I wandered too much - at least they haven't said so." But Eddie's dream was to score a goal in the NHL. "I hear Chuck Rayner of the old Rangers used to come right up and take part in the power play in the last minute of the game, but unfortunately, the rules no longer let goalies go past the middle red line," Giacomin chuckled. "Maybe I should have been a forward - the boys told me I skated pretty good, that is, for a goalie!"
Eddie led the NHL in wins three seasons, shutouts three seasons, and four times he led the league in games played. Eddie also represented the Rangers six times in the NHL All Star Game.
Eddie's tenure came to an abrupt end on October 31st, 1975 when he was claimed on waivers by the Detroit Red Wings. Eddie would return to the Garden two days later in a Detroit uniform. Chants of "Ed-die! Ed-die!" rained down from the Garden during warm-ups and continued throughout the game. The Rangers actually found themselves booed that night, as an emotional Giacomin led the Red Wings to a 6-4 win over the Blueshirts. Eddie would play three seasons in Detroit, retiring in 1978.
In 1987, Giacomin would take his place among the Legends of the NHL when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A little known fact about Eddie Giacomin:
In 1978, Giacomin was promised the Rangers' coaching job by team president Bill Jennings, only to be overridden by Sonny Werblin - boss of Madison Square Garden - who picked Fred Shero instead. (The Toronto Star, November 7, 1984)
Here is Eddie on the "Legends of Hockey" series on Biography. You will see how difficult it was for Eddie to leave the Rangers. I apologize for Stan Fischler yelling at you during this video:
Honorable mentions for Number 1: Andy Aitkenhead, Emile Francis, Dave Kerr, Lorne "Gump" Worsley, Wayne Thomas