You hear a lot about the Number 4 in New York sports. For the New York Yankees, the Number 4 was worn by the immortal Lou Gehrig. In recent years, a common phrase in the NY sports scene has been “The Core 4”, in reference to Yankees greats Jorge Posada, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.
Brett Favre wore the Number 4 in his only season as a New York Jet and the New Jersey Devils have retired Number 4 for Hall of Famer and 3-time Stanley Cup Champion Scott Stevens. When it comes to the Rangers, 32 different players have worn the Number 4. So for those who have worn the blue, white & red for the Rangers, which three have worn the Number 4 the best?
Well, let’s start with the players who have worn Uniform # 4:
Of the 32 players who have worn this number, there is one RW, four (that number again!!) LW’s and the remaining 27 were defensemen. It is a list compiled mainly of older players as only 8 were born after 1970! This was a hard list for me to decipher as who should be on it as I had hardly seen any of these players actually suit up for the Blueshirts.
So without further ado, here are my top 3 uniform Number 4:
3) Bill Gadsby (1954 – 1961)
When compiling these lists, I usually shy away from players that were before my time as comparing them to players I did see would not be an equal comparison. However, with Gadsby, I made an exception. Gadsby played 7 seasons for the Rangers from 1954 to 1961.
In 457 games he compiled 58 goals and 213 assists for 271 points to go along with 413 PIM. He also appeared in 16 playoff games registering 10 points on 2 goals and 8 assists with 10 PIM. He never played a game in the minors for the Rangers which is pretty impressive as he played in the Original Six era.
He was an All-Star in the 1956, 1957, 1958, 1995 and 1960 seasons. He was awarded the Rangers MVP award in 1955-56. In the 1958-59 season, he set what was then an NHL record of 46 assists for a defensemen. In 1970, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
2) Kevin Lowe (1992 – 1996)
The Lachute, Ontario native was a consummate professional during his career with the Blueshirts. Lowe joined the Rangers in 1992 after winning 5 Stanley Cups with the powerhouse Edmonton Oilers. He made his debut on December 15, 1992 against the Calgary Flames just days after he had been acquired by New York from the Oilers in exchange for Roman Oksiuta and a third round draft pick.
What Lowe lacked in offensive punch, he made up for on the defensive side of the puck. Paired up with Sergei Zubov, he formed a solid 2nd pair defense corp behind the number one pairing of Brian Leetch and Jeff Beukeboom. In his four seasons on Broadway, Lowe appeared in 217 games and posted a very modest 48 points on 10 goals and 38 assists to go along with 262 PIM.
In the playoffs, he played in 42 contests registering 6 points on 1 goal and 5 assists with 36 PIM. He will forever be remembered in Rangers lore as being part of the “Edmonton Rangers” that helped bring an end to “The Curse” as the 1994 Rangers captured their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
1) Ron Greschner (1974 – 1990)
The Goodsoil, Saskatchewan played a remarkable 982 games for the Rangers in a career that spanned 16 seasons all for New York. During that timeframe, Greschner put up some remarkable totals.
He posted 179 goals and 431 assists for 610 points to go along with 1226 PIM. In 84 playoff games he posted 17 goals and 32 assists for 49 points and 106 PIM. He was a huge part of the Rangers team that upset the heavily favorite New York Islanders in the spring of 1979 to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
In that memorable playoff run, Greschner played in 18 games and notched 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points with 16 PIM and 4 PPG, 1 SHG and 3 GWG. He served as Captain of the Rangers from Oct 1986 through December 1987. He held the Rangers record for points by a defenseman until he was surpassed by Brian Leetch in the late 1990’s.
Upon his retirement in 1990, he held the Rangers records for defensemen in goals, assists and points. Leetch would surpass him in all these categories. The fact that his number has not been retired is a blemish on what was a spectacular career. He is truly one great member in a long line of superb Rangers defensemen. Hopefully, he will get his due soon and have his number hanging from the rafters in MSG.