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In 86 years of New York Rangers hockey, nearly 1,000 players have worn the red, white, and blue sweaters at Madison Square Garden. In a new series here on Blueshirt Banter, we will look at the best Rangers to play for the organization based on their jersey number. Without further ado, here is Part One of this series, as we look at the best players who have worn numbers 00-10 for the Rangers.
#00 – John Davidson (Goaltender, 1975-1983)
"JD" was the only Blueshirt to wear #00. Davidson wore the number during the 1977-78 season, one of his eight as a player in New York. His finest moment as a Ranger came during the 1979 playoffs, when JD led a young Rangers squad to an improbable six-game series win in the Semi-finals against the New York Islanders. After his playing career was over, Davidson became the color commentator for MSG Network in 1986. JD and Sam Rosen would be the Rangers’ on-air broadcast team for the next twenty years, before Davidson moved on to become President of the St. Louis Blues.
#1 – Ed Giacomin (Goaltender, 1965-1975)
Many fantastic goaltenders wore #1 for the Rangers. But none have been as efficient, or as popular, as the goalie that still gets serenaded with chants of "Edd-ie, Edd-ie" whenever he returns to MSG. Ed Giacomin spent the first eleven seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Blueshirts. Along the way, Giacomin guided the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1972, was the co-winner of the Vezina Trophy in 1970-71 with Gilles Villemure, and was selected as the team’s MVP three times. Although many of his Rangers’ goaltending records would eventually be broken, Giacomin still holds the franchise record for career shutouts with 49. Giacomin was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Rangers retired his #1 jersey in 1989.
Honorable mentions: Gump Worsley, Chuck Rayner
#2 – Brian Leetch (Defenseman, 1988-2004)
When the Rangers retired #2 on January 24th, 2008, the organization honored perhaps the finest player in franchise history. In his 16 seasons as a Blueshirt, Brian Leetch established 42 team records, including most goals, assists, and points by a Rangers defenseman. Along the way, Leetch was recognized league-wide for his exceptional play, as he won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1988-89, as well as two Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman in 1991-92 and 1996-97. Leetch’s shining moment came during the Rangers’ run to the 1994 Stanley Cup championship. The defenseman totaled 11 goals, 23 assists, and 34 points in 23 playoff games and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Playoffs. The 23rd captain in team history was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Honorable mentions: Brad Park, Art Coulter
#3 – Harry Howell (Defenseman, 1952-69)
Although he didn’t have the offensive flash of a Brian Leetch, Brad Park, or Ron Greschner, Harry Howell was as reliable as any defenseman in the Rangers’ history, and one of the best defensemen of his era. Howell holds the Blueshirts record for games played with 1,160, which he amassed over 17 seasons on Broadway. The ninth captain in team history was a six-time all-star, and won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman in 1966-67. The Rangers retired #3 for Howell during the 2008-09 season.
Honorable mentions: Ott Heller, Ivan "Ching" Johnson,
#4 – Ron Greschner (Defenseman, 1974-90)
Ron Greschner was the perfect combination of an offensively gifted defenseman with a punishing presence in his own zone. A career Ranger, "Gresch" was drafted by the Blueshirts in 1974, and was called up to the big club after just seven games in the minors with the Providence Reds. Greschner retired as the Rangers’ all-time leader in goals, assists, and points by a defenseman (all surpassed by Leetch). He is currently 4th in Rangers history in games played, 7th in assists and points, and the team’s all-time leader in penalty minutes.
Honorable mentions: Alex Shibicky, Kevin Lowe
#5 – Bill Cook (Right Wing, 1926-37)
If there was a comparable between when the Rangers played their first NHL game in 1926 and today, Bill Cook would be regarded by today’s fans the in same way as Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Callahan. Known as "The Original Ranger", he was the team’s first captain and superstar, as he led the NHL in goals and points in the 1926-27 season. Cook, a right wing, played with his brother Bun and center Frank Boucher, and the trio became known as the "A Line", a nickname for the train that ran underneath the Old Madison Square Garden. Cook captained the Rangers to two Stanley Cups in 1927-28 and 1932-33, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1952. The Hall of Famer is still tenth all-time in goals scored by a Blueshirt, and is sixth in goals per game.
Honorable mentions: Buddy O’Connor, Barry Beck
#6 – Fred "Bun" Cook (Left Wing, 1926-36)
Although his older brother overshadowed him, Fred "Bun" Cook played a major role in the early success of the Blueshirts. Bun was an innovator of the game, becoming one of the first players to help introduce the slap shot and the drop pass. Bun averaged just below a point per game for ten seasons while winning two Stanley Cups. After his playing career, Cook became one of the most successful coaches in the American Hockey League, as his 636 wins are the most in AHL history. Cook was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995, and the AHL Hall of Fame in 1997.
Honorable mentions: Neil Colville
#7 – Rod Gilbert (Right Wing, 1960-78)
If anybody fits the title of "Mr. Ranger", it is the man from Montreal, Quebec who had as distinguished of a career as any Ranger before or after. Rod Gilbert never scored 50 goals or totaled 100 points in any season, but the Hall of Famer’s consistent play over 16 seasons made him the highest scorer in team history. As the right wing of the "G-A-G Line" with Vic Hadfield and boyhood friend Jean Ratelle, Gilbert established franchise records of 406 goals and 1,021 points. The eight-time all-star played his entire career in New York, and continues to be a part the organization even though it has been 34 years since his retirement. Gilbert became the first Ranger to have his number retired, when #7 was raised to the rafters in 1979.
Honorable mentions: Frank Boucher, Phil Watson, Don "Bones" Raleigh
#8 – Steve Vickers (Left Wing, 1972-82)
In a time period full of Rangers legends, Steve Vickers can be overshadowed. However, it’s hard to underestimate his contributions to the Blueshirts in his ten-year career. After being selected in the first round in the 1971 NHL Draft, Vickers won the Calder Trophy in 1972-73. The two-time all-star scored 30 goals in each of the first four years of his career, and played with Ratelle and Gilbert on the team’s top line after Hadfield’s departure in 1974. Vickers holds the Rangers team record for points in a game with seven. The Toronto, Ont. native is in the top ten in Rangers history for goals, assists, and points.
Honorable mentions: Bob Nevin, Darren Turcotte
#9 – Andy Bathgate (Right Wing, 1952-64)
The Rangers retired the number nine for two beloved Blueshirts, but on this list, number nine belongs to the right wing from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Despite playing in an era where the Rangers didn’t have much success in the regular season, Andy Bathgate became one of the best scorers in Rangers history. Bathgate scored at least 20 goals in eight of his 12 seasons with the Blueshirts, and won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 1958-59. At the time of his retirement, Bathgate was the Blueshirts’ all-time leading scorer.
Honorable mentions: Adam Graves, Lynn Patrick
#10 – Ron Duguay (Right Wing, 1977-83; 1986-88)
Although he is as popular for his matinee idol looks and off-ice singing exploits (see Hockey Sock Rock) as his on-ice accomplishments, Ron Duguay was the perfect combination of scoring and toughness. The Rangers’ first round pick in 1977, Duguay scored twenty goals four times as a Blueshirt, including a 40-goal campaign during the 1981-82 season. In addition to being a reliable scorer, Duguay was a grinding player as well, and was never afraid to play a physical game. The image of a helmetless Duguay skating down the right wing with his long hair flowing is one that will fondly be remembered by all Rangers fans who saw him in his day.
Honorable mentions: Pierre Larouche, Marian Gaborik
Did you agree with our list? Did we miss anybody that you think should be on here? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.