The All Time Canadian Born NY Rangers Team
Oh, Canada! Our neighbors to the north. The birthplace of hockey. The foundation of the National Hockey League. Ever since the Rangers admittance into the NHL in 1926, Canada has been a breeding ground, dispatching a conveyor belt of skilled and talented hockey players to the Big Apple in search of fame, fortune and glory. Yes, today, Forever Blueshirts will profile the best New York Rangers that were born north of the 49th parallel.
Starting in goal, number 1 Eddie Giacomin
Edd-ie Edd-ie Edd-ie!
There are three sure things in life, my friends. Death, taxes and that Pavlovian chant from Rangerstown each time the Sudbury, Ontario native takes the ice or is shown in the Garden Vision scoreboard. Giacomin’s 267 regular season wins and 49 shutouts were Ranger records at the time of his retirement in 1978. The Hall-of-Famer was the 2nd player in franchise history to have his jersey raised to the Garden rafters making Giacomin a perfect fit to tend goal for our Canadian born team
On defense, number 3 Harry Howell
The Norris Trophy winner and eventual Hall-of -Famer spent 17 years patrolling the blue line at both MSG III and MSG IV. Even though it’s been more than 50 years since Howell last donned the red, while and blue colors of your beloved hockey team, the native of Hamilton, Ontario is still the team’s all time leader in games played with 1160. Howell’s jersey was belatedly raised to the Garden rafters in a dual ceremony with Andy Bathgate in February of 2009. The late Howell is true Ranger royalty and very much deserving to make our list.
His defense partner, number 4 Ron Greschner
The Goodsoil, Saskatchewan native played all of his 16 seasons and 981 regular season games wearing his familiar #4, that, in all honesty, should be among the retired banners dangling from the iconic Garden roof. “Gresch” could do it all. He was big, strong, skilled and man was he tough! In 1977-78, Gresch scored 24 goals, tallied 72 points and amassed 100 PIM. Gresch may never have won an individual award and he may not be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, he is very much qualified of being Harry Howell’s defense partner on our hypothetical Ranger team.
On left wing, number 11 Vic Hadfield
The first player in franchise history to reach the 50-goal plateau and one of just six Blueshirts to top 100 points in a single season, Hadfield was the left wing on the famed Goal-A-Game line. Hadfield also served as Ranger captain from 1971-1974. The native of Oakville, Ontario was a fearless leader who could light the lamp on one shift and beat the tar out of an opponent the next, Hadfield’s number 11 jersey was retired last season joining his legendary GAG line-mates in Ranger lore forever.
At center, number 11 “The Messiah” Mark Messier
The man who engineered his ouster from his home town of Edmonton, Alberta to New York City in October of 1991 on a supreme mission to defeat the daunting, intimidating and seemingly unbeatable 1940 monster.
The man who guaranteed victory in game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals and then scored a now iconic third period hat trick to facilitate the unthinkable.
The man who raised that silver chalice towards the heavens on the unforgettable evening of June 14th, 1994 to, in fact, permanently put to rest that dreaded “1940” chant. On a personal note, Mark Messier is a hero of mine and it is my own belief that every Ranger fan should own his #11 jersey to pay homage to the only player in 80 years to captain a Ranger team to a Stanley Cup Championship.
On right wing, number 7 Rod Gilbert
The unofficial ambassador of the Garden and the New York Rangers, Gilbert is simply put, unequivocal Ranger royalty. The Montreal, PQ native continues to be the franchise’s all time leader in goals with 406 and points with 1021. Gilbert is enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame and his #7 was the first jersey to be retired by the only NHL team he had ever played for. Gilbert has become synonymous with Ranger hockey and you’ll never meet a classier individual.
Honorable mention: Jean Ratelle, Adam Graves, Andy Bathgate, Dave Kerr, James Patrick, Walt Tkaczuk, Brad Park, and Mike Gartner.