The Biggest and Baddest Villains in New York Rangers History (with video evidence to prove it)
We here at Forever Blueshirts have profiled some of the most popular, legendary Blueshirts to ever skate on Garden Ice. We have opined about a plethora of fan-favorites, all-time greats and true Ranger royalty. Today, however, we shall dive into the other end of the pool: The deep end as it were. Today, we will examine some of the more hated Ranger opponents. Today, we will discuss players who’s mere presence has brought a healthy amount of venom and vitriol from the Garden Faithful. Today, we will rank the top five biggest villains to ever suit up against your beloved New York Rangers.
5: Dave “The Hammer” Schultz (Philadelphia Flyers)
Schultz, and the rest of the his “Broad Street Bully” teammates dominated and terrorized most of the National Hockey League during a large portion of the 1970’s. The “Bullies” used intimidation and brutality to run roughshod over smaller, feckless opponents. Schultz qualified for our “villains list” for one reason and one reason only and that was his savage jumping and subsequent beat-down of Ranger defenseman Dale Rolfe in game 7 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. If you’ve never witnessed this particular scrum and have a weak stomach, my suggestion is you leave it alone as this unbridled carnage is not for the faint of heart.
4: Dave Brown (Philadelphia Flyers)
Like Schultz, the hulking, intimidating Brown is a former Flyer that is on our list for a singular, viscous moment that lives in Garden lore in infamy.
Picture it: October 26th, 1987 at Madison Square Garden. Ranger forward Tomas Sandstrom is in his proverbial office on top of the goalie crease battling with Flyer net-minder Ron Hextall. Hextall freezes the puck and play stops. An unsuspecting Sandstrom is then nearly decapitated by one of the most shocking, thuggish, utterly disgusting acts of goon-ism in professional sports history.
After the whistle had blown, Brown darts in, from behind and with all his might, cross-checks the Swede in the neck sending #28 crashing down to the ice. Brown received a 15-game suspension for his act of cowardice that, frankly, should have been at least twice that length. Sandstrom was no angel, any Blueshirt enthusiast who followed the team back then could attest to that. But, the quasi-crime Brown committed on that October evening in 1987 forever etched his name on any Ranger fan’s enemy’s list.
3: Claude Lemieux (New Jersey Devils)
Lemieux qualifies for this article not for a singular act of violence and aggression like Schultz and Brown. Claude, the father of current Ranger forward Brendan Lemieux, appears on our list from a cumulative career of agitation, and down right abrasive play. Former Ranger great Brian Leetch famously stated that in the waning seconds of game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals between the Rangers and Devils, he alerted his teammates on the ice about Lemieux’s flair for dirty play and to be prepared. Heck, if you can find the bench-clearing brawl between New York and New Jersey after game 6 of the 1992 playoff battle, you’ll see Ranger tough guys Adam Graves and Tie Domi each seeking out the Devil in Red looking to get their pound of flesh. There is a modicum of irony watching and rooting for his boy Brendan skate for the team Claude use to enjoy menacing.
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2: Ron Hextall (Philadelphia Flyers/New York Islanders)
How deep and extreme was the hatred Ranger fans had for the former Flyer and Islander goalie? Well, when #27 would take the ice at the Garden donned in orange and black, the Faithful would serenade the fiery, and at times pugilistic Hextall with the following chant, “Drive a Porsche Hextall, Drive a Porsche.” You see, in November, 1985, Flyer goaltender Pelle Lindbergh tragically passed away in a fatal car accident when his Porsche crashed into a wall at 80 MPH. The insinuation of the chant which I am sure originated among the most die-hard, inebriated fans from the ol’ Blue seats was Hextall should follow in the footsteps of his Flyer predecessor in goal by purchasing the luxury automobile and driving recklessly. Obviously, we at Forever Blueshirts do not and would not have condoned such an odious chant if we were around back then. But, during Hextall’s tenure playing for two of the Rangers biggest, most hated rivals brought out the raw and unfiltered emotions of that era.
1: Denis Potvin (New York Islanders)
While the repugnant anti-Hextall chant has thankfully disappeared over time, the “Potvin Sucks” whistle remains a true Garden staple even though the former Islander captain retired from the NHL over 30 years ago. Denis Potvin earned his number one position on our “villains list” for two reasons. Number one was. of course the now infamous body check laid on former Ranger Ulf Nilsson on February 25th, 1979 which left the talented Swede with a broken ankle. The debate rages on about whether or not Potvin deliberately tried to maim Nilsson. What cannot be debated is the true reason why, to this day, Rangerstown carries on the tradition of treating Denis Potvin like Public Enemy Number One and that is because the Hall of Fame defenseman was the embodiment of the great Islander dynasty which won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-1983 and defeated the Rangers in the playoffs each year between 1981-1984.
Honorary mention: Red Dutton, Martin Brodeur, Matt Johnson, Mike Milbury, Dale Hunter, Alec Martinez, Adam Henrique, and Kenny Morrow.
Editor’s Note: For me personally there are a bazillion reasons to replace Hextall on this list with Mike Milbury. Especially with his atrocious commentary everytime he does a Rangers game for NBC. However, the shoe beat down of a fan takes the cake. – Anthony
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