This is arguably one of the tougher things I have done in terms of writing when it comes to anything, let alone hockey. A top 10 list of any Original 6 team is going to be tough to make considering how long they have been around and the numerous players that have played for them. This is my list but by no means do I think it is concrete. Many of these players could be moved up with a bunch of them easily considered for number 1. So here we go:
10. Brad Park: Park played just over 7 seasons with the New York Rangers and is considered one of the best defenseman not only in Ranger history but certainly in the history of the game. His offensive style of play started the change that ultimately revolutionized the position when Bobby Orr came around. He ranks 19th on the all time points list but despite that, he is one of the best players to ever put on the Ranger blue.
9. Vic Hadfield: The first Ranger to ever score 50 goals comes in at number 9. His goal scoring record held up until Adam Graves broke it in that magical season. Hadfield was an integral part of the GAG line that lead the Ranger offense for many years. He ranks 9th on the all time list in points and 5th in goals. His record of 50 goals set the goal scoring mark that many great Rangers could not break.
8. Mike Richter: Now here is where it starts to get really tough. Arguably the best American goaltender in hockey history, Mike Richter is number 8 on my list. He has the most wins of any Ranger goalie and a Stanley Cup to his credit. His absolutely stellar play in the 1993-1994 playoffs lead the Rangers to breaking the curse of 1940 and made it a tough decision for voters to decide on the Conn Smythe trophy (MVP of the playoffs) which Richter could have also won. His number 35 is retired in the rafters and is one of the most beloved Rangers of all time.
7. Frank Boucher: The orginial Mr. Ranger comes in at 7. Boucher was the center man of one of the best scoring lines in Ranger history as he anchored the Cook brothers and led the Rangers to 2 Stanley Cups. He has a trophy named after him that represents the most popular Ranger on and off the ice (won by Sean Avery this past season). He won 7 consecutive Lady Byngs and is 15th on the all time points list. He is forgotten alot but will always hold the title as THE Mr. Ranger.
6. Andy Bathgate: Arguably one of the greatest scorers of all time, Andy Bathgate comes in at number 6. He is 4th on the all time points list with 729 points. He was a captain and his offense propelled the Rangers through the 1950s and into the 1960s. He was a Hart Trophy winner in 1958-1959 and was a very consistent player, playing 70 games all of his years with the Rangers except for one. While he did win a Stanley Cup with Toronto when he was traded from the Rangers, Bathgate will always be remembered as a Ranger.
5. Eddie Giacomin: At number 5 comes the greatest Ranger of all time (in my opinion). Giacomin was an anchor in net for the Rangers for a decade. He led the NHL in wins 3 consecutive years while also leading the league in shutouts 3 different times. He posted 30+ win seasons 5 times and won the Vezina Trophy in 1970-1971 as the best goaltender in the league. His play made the Rangers a tough team to score against for a long time and the chants of EDDIE! EDDIE! EDDIE! can still be heard every once in awhile.
4. Jean Ratelle: The center for the GAG line comes in at number 4. Could have ended up the greatest offensive player in the history of the Rangers if he had not been traded and lost some time due to injury. His record of 109 points stood until Jaromir Jagr broke it, a bar that certainly would have been set higher if not for 15 games missed to injury in the 1971-1972 season. His time was limited in the playoffs as well, surely a big reason the team didn't win the Stanley Cup that year as they fell to Bobby Orr and the Bruins. But Ratelle, ranked 3rd on the all time points list with 817 points is one of the best offensive players the Rangers ever had.
3. Mark Messier: The man that brought Lord Stanley back to NYC comes in at number 3. Arguably the best captain in the history of hockey and one of the best leaders in sports history, Messier's memorable career in NY brought Ranger fans alot of memories. Despite the fact Messier cries alot, the man has earned the right to do so being 5th on the all time scoring list with 691 points. He won the Hart Trophy in 1991-1992. Really, what else is their to say about the Captain?
2. Rod Gilbert: Coming in at number 2 is Rod Gilbert. He leads the franchise in points and goals and was an offensive catalyst for the team during their great years in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite a nagging back injury for most of his career, Gilbert still managed to put up Hall of Fame numbers and be a dominant player in his time. He is always around the organization volunteering and helping young fans get into the game all the while his number 7 hangs in the rafters.
1. Brian Leetch: Well Number 1 goes to number 2, Brian Leetch. He may not be the leader in points for the franchise but he certainly would have been if it wasn't for a trade. He is one of the best defenseman in NHL history and the best in Rangers history. He would have broken Gilbert's points record and Howell's games played record. Leetch made a huge impression as a young player, winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the 1988-1989 season. He won the Conn Smythe during the 1993-1994 Stanley Cup win and he won the Norris Trophy two times as the league's top defenseman. Brian Leetch is the greatest player to ever put on the Broadway Blue.
Honorable Mentions: Harry Howell, Steve Vickers, Bill Cook, Ron Greschner, Walt Tkaczuk, Adam Graves, Gump Worsley.
This is easily the hardest list I have ever had to make concerning hockey because of all the great players to ever put on the Ranger uniform. Even now I am doubting some of these choices but I am going to stick with them. What do you think of these choices? Who would add, subtract, or move around in the order? Comment or sign the guestbook!
Image courtesy of The Daily News