The Rangers I Am Most Thankful For
Happy Thanksgiving Rangers fans!
Over the course of my 26 years on planet Earth, every single one of them has been as a member of Rangerstown, and for that I am forever thankful. And on this Thanksgiving, I want to thank a few Rangers, past and present, for their contributions to our beloved Blueshirts.
Henrik Lundqvist – Any discussion regarding the Rangers of the last 15 years includes the seventh winningest goaltender in NHL history. Lundqvist has been the anchor of the franchise’s overall success that saw the Rangers reach the playoffs in 11 of King Henrik’s 13 full professional seasons. Lundqvist’s appeal to Rangers fans isn’t just his stellar play or his insanely good looks, which shouldn’t go unmentioned, but also his commitment to stay with the organization through this team’s youth movement. When the time comes for Henrik to hang up the pads, his number 30 will be hanging from the rafters at MSG.
Mats Zuccarello – He may not be the most talented player in the league, or even on the team, but the diminutive Norwegian forward is the kind of player every team wants. Zuccarello is a fierce competitor that never shies away from contact, goes to the dirty areas of the ice and is willing to stick up for his teammates despite his smaller stature. Oh yeah, and he has led the Rangers in scoring in four of the last five seasons. It seems as though Zuccarello’s time on Broadway could be coming to an end sooner rather than later, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a Rangers fan that doesn’t appreciate everything Zuccarello has meant to the Blueshirts.
The Future – Maybe this should be the Jeff Gorton part of the post, but I’m going to stick with the guys on the ice instead of the ones in the front office. Guys like Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Neal Pionk, Tony DeAngelo and Lias Andersson have Rangers fans buzzing for the immediate future of the Broadway Blueshirts. Add in 2018 first-round pick Vitaly Kravtsov and goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin, and you are talking about the potential for another perennial playoff team sooner rather than later.
The Core Four Of 1994 – As much as the whole 1994 team has a special place in the hearts of Rangers fans everywhere, Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, and Brian Leetch played significant roles in delivering that championship to the organization.
Messier was the team’s leader both on and off the ice. Messier wasn’t just a highly skilled offensive player, he was also able to throw a big hit or drop the gloves if need be. And who could forget “The Guarantee,” where Messier recorded a hat trick to force a seventh game in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
Messier’s impact on the Rangers wasn’t limited to just his play on the ice, but he has been an integral part of the Rangers family as a whole. Messier has helped spearhead the project to turn the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into a state of the art ice skating facility. Messier was included in the NHL 100 a few years ago, and you won’t find anyone that has a problem with that.
Perhaps the greatest American born defenseman of all-time, Leetch was a force from the blue line. A great skater that was defensively sound and offensively gifted, the Boston College alumnus was a staple on the Blueshirts blue line for 15 seasons. And like his captain, Leetch was also named to the NHL 100 list. Leetch won two Norris trophies as the league’s best defenseman, the Calder trophy as rookie of the year, and the Conn Smythe trophy as the 1994 playoff MVP. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone less deserving of being on a list like this.
Adam Graves spent ten years with the Rangers and has been one of the most notable Rangers alumni over the last few years. His on ice exploits are well documented: 52 goals in the 1993-94 regular season, 17 points during that season’s playoffs, as well as a Masterton trophy and King Clancy trophy during his tenure on Broadway. Graves is currently part of developing the next wave of Rangers stars (see above), but is also constantly involved in the community via his work with The Garden of Dreams Foundation, SmileZone and more. It’s hard not to be thankful for a guy like Adam Graves.
Finally, Mike Richter backstopped the Blueshirts run to the 1994 Stanley Cup, making big save after big save to keep the dream alive. Richter spent his entire NHL career with the Rangers that included three all-star appearances before being inducted into the US Hockey Hall Of Fame In 2008.
Lester Patrick – An icon not only in Rangers lore but in the game as well, Patrick won three Stanley Cups with the Rangers as a general manager and a coach, most memorably in 1928 when he played goalie when the team’s goaltender Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury. Patrick helped guide the Rangers to their first three Stanley Cups and we should all be thankful for that.