Lesser Known Rangers – Volume 11
Ah, August; the month of anticipation. Why do I say this? Well, hockey is a little more than a month away and those Rangers fans that root for the Mets are eagerly anticipating another sport that can draw their attention away from the dumpster fire that is in Queens. What the beginning of training camp and the early stages of a new season brings forth is obscure players going in and out of the Blueshirts locker room. Some stay for the season and some do not. Let’s take a look at a few players that will make you say:”Did he really play for the Rangers?”
Thomas Pock, Defenseman
Time with Rangers: 59 games over 4 seasons, with stints in Hartford.
In a previous version of Lesser Known Rangers, I mentioned players that I remember being in the EA Sports NHL video games and would use them as injury replacements during my franchise. Thomas Pock was one of these players.
The Austrian born Pock was a star forward converted to a defenseman playing for the UMass Minutemen but was not drafted after college. Pock signed his first pro contract on March 23, 2004, with the Rangers. He made his NHL debut at the end of the 2003–04 season.
Pock played in eight games for the Rangers in the 2005–06 season, netting one goal, one assist, and four penalty minutes. He spent the majority of the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, tallying an impressive 61 points in 65 games, to finish second in the league amongst defenseman and was named to the AHL Second All-Star Team. In the following season, Pock played in 44 games for the Rangers, scored four goals, tallied four assists, and 16 penalty minutes. He also played in four first-round playoff games versus the Thrashers, grabbing three assists.
Not too long after this, at the start of the 2008-09 season, the Rangers waived Pock and he was claimed by the Islanders, where he played in a career-high 59 games. Pock wasn’t a bad defenseman at times but wasn’t the best either. We could sit here for hours just sifting through names of players who were worse off on the back end. After his stint with the Islanders, Pock went overseas to play on teams in Switzerland, Sweden and in his home country of Austria.
Petr Sykora, Forward
Time with Rangers: 40 games in 2005-06
This one hurts me because of how this season ended and how brief his tenure was in New York. Traded for Maxim Kondratiev on January 8th, 2006 from the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Sykora immediately began to make an impact for New York, scoring at almost a point per game pace. Now, I vividly remembered this Sykora character from his days as a New Jersey Devil. Helping win one cup with Elias and Arnott and making another appearance with the Ducks just a few years later, Sykora was a nice impact player and I was elated the Rangers traded for him.
Sykora scored 16 goals and 15 assists for New York along with 22 PIM. His 23 goals combined (Anaheim and New York) placed him third on the Rangers in goal scoring and he was fifth in both points and assists. The guy produced in his short time as a Ranger, especially on a team that was not even slated to even sniff the playoffs. Even though this team made it to the “second season”, unfortunately, these Rangers were swept in four games in miserable fashion by the rival New Jersey Devils. Talk about heartbreaking.
Sykora did not return to New York, making me one sad hockey fan. Petr signed with Edmonton, then after his stint in Edmonton, went to Pittsburgh for two seasons, won a Cup, then finished out his career in Minnesota and New Jersey. Not many would remember Sykora as a Ranger, but he sure as hell was not a slouch in his time in blue.
Steve Rucchin, Forward
Time with Rangers: 72 games during the 2005-06 season.
This is probably a Lesser Known Ranger for some of the younger readers but I absolutely loved Steve Rucchin as a Ranger. Traded by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in August 2005 for, get this, Trevor Gillies, Rucchin proved to be a valuable asset for a Rangers team that was young and expected to crumble at season’s start.
Before his time in New York, Rucchin was an anchor for many of those late 90’s and early 00’s Mighty Ducks teams. From centering Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne to providing depth on the forward chart to being a great locker room presence, Rucchin was a solid asset for the Rangers in his one season in blue. Named as an Alternate Captain, he tallied 13 goals and 23 assists, helping lead an unknown Rangers team to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Sadly, as mentioned above and etched in all of our minds as Rangers fans, the Devils swept New York out in the first round that season.
After a successful campaign for New York, Rucchin signed with the Atlanta Thrashers the following season. In a game on March 6, 2007, he suffered a concussion on a hit by Ben Guite of the Colorado Avalanche. He was ruled out for the remainder of the season with post-concussion syndrome. Before the 2007-08 season, Rucchin failed a physical at training camp and sat out the final year of his contract effectively ending his professional career forcing him to retire.