Brendan Lemieux Reminiscent Of Another Rangers Fan Favorite
A black eye, a missing tooth, a slash to the head. In the past couple of weeks, Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux has collected his share of bloody battle wounds that have resulted in the 23-year-old being plastered all over social media. Lemieux has quickly become one of the Rangers’ most recognizable faces and a favorite amongst fans for his grit and tremendous work ethic all over the ice.
Lemieux seems to have that something special he brings to the team and the fans. While that ”thing” may not show up on the stat sheets or analytics charts, Lemieux has helped the Rangers pull through adversity time and time again. Digging into the Rangers’ archive of players, Lemieux holds some of the same intangibles of another Rangers fan favorite, best known for his antics both on and off the ice, beloved by Blueshirts fans, and despised by all others.
Standing at a mere 5’10”, Sean Avery was a pest, an agitator, the guy to get under the skin of his opponent and every fan rooting tirelessly against him. But for his home team crowd, he was the spark, the player to stir up the excitement, and not to mention, an offensive contributor with hockey talent. Overall, Avery spent six seasons as a member of the Blueshirts, and while he made headlines for his bad-boy reputation, he also made his mark on the stat sheet, recording 123 points in 264 NHL games with the Rangers.
Like Avery, Brendan Lemieux is a left-winger, who contributes both heart and hockey abilities for the Blueshirts. Although he thankfully does not possess the long list of off-ice issues that Avery is so well-known for, Lemieux, like Avery, is the first man on the ice to protect his teammates and throw fists and words at his opponent. Impressively, Lemieux has recorded 11 points in his first 25 games this season, but what is more impressive is that his production has come in big moments for the Rangers.
In a Wednesday Night Hockey matchup against the Metro Division’s first-place Washington Capitals, Lemieux contributed to a big Rangers win, assisting Pavel Buchnevich on the Rangers third goal of the game. But, what fans remember most about that game is the fight between Lemieux and Capitals forward Tom Wilson, with just under four minutes left to play in the third period. A frustrated Capitals team, down 4-1, retreated to taking big shots at Rangers players, but Lemieux was there to stifle their attempts, dropping the gloves with Wilson in a bloody fist-fight on the ice.
Later on that week, Lemieux came up even bigger, this time scoring two goals to lead the Rangers to a much-needed victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Coming off an embarrassing 4-1 loss against the Senators the night before, the Rangers quickly found themselves trailing 4-0 in front of a relentless Montreal crowd and Lemieux’s famous hockey father, Claude Lemieux, who was watching from the stands. What looked to be like another defeat for the Blueshirts turned into a comeback 6-5 win, with Lemieux scoring in the second period to cut the Canadiens’ lead to 4-3 and again in the third period on a short-handed goal to tie the game at five, before Jacob Trouba notched the sixth goal to complete the whirlwind comeback victory.
In his post-game interview, proudly wearing the Broadway Hat and his battle wounds, Lemieux told interviewers, “I’m very blessed to have a great opportunity to play here in New York.” Coach Quinn spoke highly about his young winger on MSG following the team’s win stating, “I love him as a player. He’s a great kid; he works hard; he’s everything you want in a hockey player.”
Since their big comeback win led by Lemieux in Montreal, the Rangers have gone 3-1-1 in their last five games and seem to be playing with a tougher edge all over the ice.
Avery was the spark, and now Lemieux seems to have ignited a fire in this young Rangers team with his ability to bring excitement to the ice, with both relentless toughness and offensive contributions. Lemieux is one of those “hate him or love him” personalities, and like Avery, New York Rangers fans have chosen the latter.