Top 10 New York Rangers in Hockey Hall of Fame
When Henrik Lundqvist was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, 2023, he became the 64th member from the New York Rangers to be enshrined. Lundqvist is one of 53 former Rangers players inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nine others with ties to the Rangers have been immortalized in the Builders category.
This list compiles the Top 10 Rangers in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Here’s a spoiler alert. You’re not going to find Wayne Gretzky, Phil Esposito, Pavel Bure, Martin St. Louis nor Brendan Shanahan on this list. Though each of those Hall of Fame players had heroic moments wearing the Blueshirt, each is more associated with another team, or teams, he played for in the NHL.
The goal with this list is to pick a list of Top 10 of Hall of Famers who have their strongest association with the Rangers.
Although many deserving names could have slid into this spot, the pick is Andy Bathgate, who spent the first 12 seasons of his NHL career with the Rangers. When he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964, the smooth-skating forward was the Rangers all-time leading scorer with 729 points, a mark he held for a decade until Jean Ratelle broke it in 1974.
Bathgate’s No. 9 is retired at Madison Square Garden, sharing the honor with Adam Graves, who wore the same number three decades later in the 1990s. Despite leaving New York 60 years ago, Bathgate is fourth all-time in franchise history in points and assists (457) and fifth in goals (272).
Bill Cook made his NHL debut at age 30 after a dominant professional career in Canada, playing in his native Ontario, before venturing west to Saskatchewan (pre-NHL days). Eventually, he joined the Rangers upon their inception in 1926. Cook was the first captain in franchise history and also scored their first goal on Nov. 16, 1926.
Cook became one of the first players to surpass 60 points, achieving the feat alongside Frank Boucher in 1929-30. By that time, he had already won a Stanley Cup championship(1928) and, within three seasons, would add another ring to his collection with the Blueshirts.
Cook had 228 goals and 366 points in 475 games with the Rangers and was their coach from 1951-53.
Long before Mike Richter established a new record for wins by a goalie in 2003, a mark Lundqvist would break later, the winningest netminder for 25 years was franchise icon, Ed Giacomin. As a late bloomer, making his NHL debut at 26, Giacomin also set a franchise record for wins during the regular season with 38 in 1968-69, a total only surpassed by Richter (42) and Lundqvist (39) decades later. He is second all-time in franchise history with 49 shutouts and third with 267 wins.
Giacomin was a five-time All-Star and won the Vezina Trophy in 1970-71, becoming only the second Rangers goalie (at the time) to win the prestigious award. Although he finished his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings in 1978, the Rangers made him the second player in team history to have his number (No. 1) retired in 1989.
Jean Ratelle was just 20 years old when he put on a Rangers jersey for the first time in 1960-61. He went on to forge one of the best statistical careers on Broadway over the next 16 seasons. As the center for the famous GAG line (Goal a Game) with Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield, the trio rewrote the team record book and registered the first 100-point seasons in Rangers’ history.
Interestingly, Ratelle set the record at 109 in 1971-72, which stood for 34 years before Jaromir Jagr broke it with 123 points. Although he was traded to the Boston Bruins along with Brad Park in the infamous Phil Esposito trade in 1976, Ratelle second-all-time in goals (336) and third in points (817) for the Rangers and is one of 11 players with their number retired (No. 19) by the club.
It has been 55 years since Harry Howell last wore a Rangers jersey, skating with the club from 1952-69. And even though the League had shorter regular-season schedules then, Howell remains the franchise’s leader with 1,160 games played.
Of course, there have many big names to patrol the blue line at Madison Square Garden, but no one did it longer than Howell, who won a Norris Trophy and was an All-Star in 1966-67. Even though he played eight seasons with other teams in the NHL and WHA, there’s no denying that he’s forever linked to the Rangers as one of their longest-tenured players and remains fifth in points by a defenseman (345).
Outside of 24 games with the Ottawa Senators in 1921-22, Boucher was the first true “Mr. Ranger,” playing 533 games in the Blueshirt over 13 seasons. Additionally, he served as New York’s coach from 1939 to 1949, with another season in 1953-54, compiling a 181-263-83 record behind the bench. Ultimately, he was a part of the Rangers organization in one capacity or another for 1,060 games.
Statistically, at the time of his retirement in 1944, Boucher ranked as one of the franchise’s top scorers with 424 points. He won the Stanley Cup twice as a player, in 1928 and 1933, and served as head coach of the 1940 Cup-winning team. As of 2023, he remains the only player in NHL history to win the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy seven times, claiming the award from 1928-1931 and 1933-1935.
There’s no denying that by the time Mark Messier came to New York in 1991, he was already a Hall of Famer. Five Stanley Cup championships during his tenure with the Edmonton Oilers will do that for a player. Additionally, he had already won the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) and Hart Trophies (league MVP).
However, Messier will forever be associated with the Rangers for one historical playoff run in 1994, ending a 54-year championship drought. Whether it was guaranteeing a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final then scoring a hat trick to secure that win against the New Jersey Devils or scoring the Cup-clinching goal a few weeks later in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks, those two iconic moments are the crown jewels of his Hall of Fame career.
Messier ended his career with 1,887 points which ranks third all-time in the NHL. While many will argue that he should be higher on this list, we took into account the majority of his points and accomplishments were with the Oilers.
Messier fifth all-time on the Rangers scoring list with 691 points and his No. 11 hangs in the Garden rafters.
There’s no denying some highly talented players have skated in a Rangers jersey, but there will be one that always stands out more than any other: Rod Gilbert. He is the only player in team history to score 400 goals (406) and collect 1,000 points (1,021).
Known as “Mr. Ranger,” Gilbert spent his 18-year NHL career on Broadway and was very active in the community serving as the Rangers’ alumni association president until he died in 2021. Additionally, he played a significant role in the Garden of Dream Foundation, engaging with countless fans who never saw him in action. Ultimately, no one represented the Rangers like he did, leaving behind a legacy that may go unmatched forever.
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Henrik Lundqvist had an incredible career with the Rangers and is their all-time leader in wins with 459, which is 6th most in NHL history. His .918 save percentage is second on the Rangers behind current goalie Igor Shesterkin (.920). He was aptly nicknamed The King, which he was as the Rangers’ focal point on and off the ice from 2005-20. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2011-12. And the only thing missing from his remarkable resume is a Stanley Cup championship, though he did lead the Blueshirts to the Cup Final in 2014 when they lost in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Although there is an argument that Lundqvist is ranked too high on this list, or that Mike Richter should be ranked above him since he backstopped the 1994 Cup title, Lundqvist deserves his place as the greatest goalie in franchise history.
Although the Rangers have four Stanley Cup championships, the team has only one Conn Smythe winner, Brian Leetch. As a two-time Norris Trophy winner and Rookie of the Year in 1989, the American-born defenseman played the first 17 years of his career in New York, helping the team to a championship in 1994, when he was named playoff MVP.
Leetch is second all-time in points (981) and games played (1,129) in Rangers history, and first with 741 assists. He was the last defenseman to score 100 points in a season, 102 in 1991-92, until Erik Karlsson scored 101 in 2022-23 with the San Jose Sharks.
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