Blueshirts By the Numbers: Honorable Mention at #2: Brad Park

via api.ning.com

Poor Brad Park. Definitely one of the best players the Rangers have ever had, but unfortunately Brad wore Number 2 as a Ranger, and wound up being overshadowed by the Greatest Ranger of them all, Brian Leetch. But we simply couldn't let today pass without mentioning Park, because although he played ten more seasons after being traded by the Rangers, Park had built a solid reputation as the second best defensemen in the NHL behind the great Bobby Orr.

Park was a first round pick for the Rangers (2nd overall) in 1966, and made his debut at MSG in 1968. He scored his first goal on February 23rd, 1969 against the Boston Bruins, though it meant little as New York was already leading 8-0. Park referred to his first goal as the game's "clincher."

Brad would in appear in five All-Star games as a Ranger, including being the youngest player (at the time) named a first team NHL All-Star. He scored twenty goals twice for the Rangers, including a career best 82 point season in 1973-74.

Park also served as Captain of the Rangers for the 1974-75 season.

From "Legends of Hockey"

Park's offensive numbers improved in each of his first four years with the Rangers. He was chosen to play for Canada in the Summit Series in 1972 and was impressive on the blue line for the embattled Canadians, finishing with five points in eight games. For the next several seasons, Park, whose Rangers had redeveloped into one of the league's better teams, was regularly compared to Orr, who was struggling with knee problems but still revolutionizing the position with his outstanding play.

Park was an expert at taking forwards out of the play and away from the middle of the rink. Opponents would feel as though they'd beaten the defender to open ice, only to find they no longer had a good view of the net. Though Park had knee problems of his own, many hockey people predicted his career would stretch further than Orr's. That prediction would come true. Due to his poor knees, Orr missed 10 games in the 1975-76 season. He would play only a few more over the next three years before leaving the game.

With the Rangers struggling in 1975, and needing a shakeup, Brad Park was part of the blockbuster trade that sent him, Jean Ratelle, and Joe Zanussi to Boston for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais. After playing second banana to Orr for so many years, the Bruins wanted Park to replace him.

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