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 Four of this series, as we look at the best players who have worn numbers 31-40 for the Rangers.
#31 – Steve Weeks (Goaltender, 1980-84)
Not too many eleventh round picks make it to the National Hockey League (especially because today’s Draft only goes up to round seven). But Steve Weeks had a solid thirteen-year career in the NHL, including parts of four seasons with the Blueshirts. The 176th player selected overall in the 1978 Draft, Weeks was the Rangers number one goalie during the 1981-82 season, when he posted a 23-16-9 record in 49 games. Weeks was traded to the Hartford Whalers on the eve of the 1984-85 season.
#32 – Stephane Matteau (Left Wing, 1994-95)
One of the four players the Blueshirts acquired at the trade deadline in 1994, Stephane Matteau’s place was cemented in Rangers lore with his wraparound goal in double overtime of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. Matteau also scored a double overtime goal in Game Three of the series, and overall scored six goals during the run to the Cup.
#33 – Tony Amonte (Right Wing, 1991-94)
Tony Amonte’s outstanding NHL career started on Broadway with the Rangers. The Blueshirts’ 4th round pick in the 1988 NHL Draft, Amonte made the Rangers in the 1991-92 season and quickly ended up on Mark Messier’s right wing. Amonte finished the season with 35 goals (one shy of the Rangers’ rookie record) and was nominated for the Calder Trophy. The Hingham, Massachusetts native followed his rookie year up with 33 goals and 76 points in the 1992-93 season. After struggling through the 1993-94 season, Amonte was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline for Brian Noonan and Stephane Matteau.
Honorable mentions: Bob Froese
#34 – John Vanbiesbrouck (Goaltender, 1981-82; 1983-93)
The Rangers’ fourth round pick in the 1981 NHL Draft, Vanbiesbrouck played parts of eleven seasons for the Blueshirts. Vanbiesbrouck’s best season as a Ranger came during the 1985-86 campaign. "Beezer" posted a 31-21-5 record, and won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder. His fantastic play continued into the postseason, when he carried the Rangers to the Eastern Conference Finals, upsetting the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals along the way. The Rangers had to leave a goaltender unprotected for the 1993 expansion Draft, and instead of losing Beezer for nothing, they traded him to Vancouver in exchange for Doug Lidster. Vanbiesbrouck’s 200 wins as a Ranger are the fifth most in team history.
#35 – Mike Richter (Goaltender, 1989-2003)
A career Ranger, Mike Richter had one of the most distinguished careers in Blueshirts history. Richter made his Rangers debut in Game Four of the 1989 Patrick Division Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and despite losing the game, he robbed the Pens’ Mario Lemieux on a breakaway chance. Richter split time with John Vanbiesbrouck for the next four seasons, and was nominated for the Vezina Trophy in 1990-91. Richter was given the number one role in 1993-94, and responded by winning 42 games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Richter led the Rangers to 16 playoff wins, and made one of the most memorable saves in Rangers history, a penalty shot save on the Canucks’ Pavel Bure in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Finals. Richter battled through a number of injuries at the end of his career, including two season-ending ACL tears, and a concussion that ultimately ended his career. However, before his career ended, the three-time all-star set franchise records for wins, games played, and minutes played in both a single season and career. Richter’s number 35 was retired by the organization on February 4, 2004.
#36 – Matthew Barnaby (Right Wing, 2001-04)
Although his time with the Rangers was short, Matthew Barnaby was one of the most agitating forwards the Blueshirts have had. Acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning midway through the 2001-02 season, the Ottawa, Ontario native won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award in the 2002-03 season. Barnaby racked up 406 penalty minutes in his 196 games as a Blueshirt.
#37 – George McPhee (Left Wing, 1983-87)
Despite being small in stature, George McPhee was one of the best middleweight fighters during his time with the Blueshirts. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Rangers in 1982, McPhee made his debut in the 1983 Playoffs. In 115 games in New York, the Guelph, Ontario native fought his way to 257 penalty minutes, including some of the most memorable in the team’s history.
#38 – Michael Sauer (Defenseman, 2008-09; 2010-Present)
The Rangers second-round draft pick in the 2005 NHL Draft, Michael Sauer is one of the most reliable defensemen on the Blueshirts’ blueline. In Sauer’s rookie season in 2010-11, the St. Cloud, Minnesota native recorded a plus-20 plus-minus rating while playing alongside Ryan McDonagh. In 2011-12, Sauer suffered a concussion in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs and missed the remainder of the season.
#39 – Doug Weight (Center, 1991-93)
Doug Weight spent the first two seasons of his distinguished nineteen-year career with the Rangers. The Blueshirts’ second-round pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, Weight scored eight goals and totaled 30 points in 53 games during his rookie year in 1991-92. The next season, the 22-year-old was traded on March 17 to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for one of the key members of the 1994 Stanley Cup team, Esa Tikkanen.
Honorable mentions: Dan Cloutier
#40 – Steve Valiquette (Goaltender, 2003-04; 2006-2010)
Steve Valiquette was a solid backup to Henrik Lundqvist during his time in New York. Valiquette’s best year as a Ranger came during the 2007-08 season, when the 6-6 netminder posted a 5-3-3 record with a 2.19 goals against average.