The New York Rangers will formally retire Jean Ratelle’s #19 on February 25th prior to the team’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers announced. President Glen Sather spoke about Ratelle via the team’s press release:
"Jean Ratelle is truly one of the greatest players to have ever played for the New York Rangers," Sather said. "Few players have demonstrated the class, dignity, and gracefulness that Jean possessed throughout his career, both on and off the ice. I had the good fortune to call Jean a teammate with the Rangers, I am proud to still call Jean a friend, and I am honored to announce that he will take his rightful place in the rafters of Madison Square Garden."
It’s an honor that Ratelle has long deserved. The Hall-of-Fame forward played 862 games with the Rangers between 1960 and 1975, featuring on the infamous GAG (Goal-a-Game) line alongside Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield. In franchise history, he ranks sixth overall in games played, second overall in goals, and third in assists and points. He is also tied for second in hat-tricks as a Ranger. His 109 points during the 1971-1972 season were a team record for 34 years, until Jaromir Jagr surpassed it in 2005-2006.
Ratelle will become the ninth player the Rangers honor with a jersey retirement. He is the first since Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate had their jerseys retired concurrently in February of 2009.
No announcement has been made yet on what number Jesper Fast, currently wearing 19, will switch to, or when that change will occur.