September 4, 2020

Today in New York Rangers history, Mike Richter called it a career

Richter (NYTIMES Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images, for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts)

Mike Richter will always be “my goaltender”. Yes, I understand that many of the younger generation of Rangers fans are scratching their heads and saying, “how is it not Hank?” Hell, some of them are shouting from the statistical mountains it should be Henrik Lundqvist hands down!

The truth is for me, not only did Mike Richter end Islanders fans shouting in my face “1940”, he also shut a few traps North of the Border with the, “This is OUR game” rally cry.

Mike Richter a Rangers and American hockey hero

The year that Mike Richter put together 1994 was the greatest season any goaltender has ever posted for the Rangers. He notched 42 wins in 68 games, lost only 12 times, and had 6 ties. Those 42 victories are the best by a Blueshirt goalie in a single season and is very unlikely to be broken anytime soon.

The real travesty of the 1994 season is that Richter did not win the Vezina Trophy. His GAA was a stellar 2.57 with a .910 SV%. It still amazes me that the goalie who was the MVP of the NHL All Star Game and won the Stanley Cup finished 6th in voting. Dominik Hasek walked away with the award with only 30 wins.

Richter, a Pennsylvania native then shocked the hockey world two year later at the World Cup of hockey. He was voted the MVP of the tournament and his 1996 teammates to this day say they don’t beat Canada without Mike’s heroic efforts in goal.

A sad ending to a great career

mike richter rangers
THE SAVE, Mike Richter stops Pavel Bure (NYR)

Sadly, Mike Richter had to retire thanks to several major knee injuries and concussions. The last few seasons of his career were tough to watch playing on bad knees. Yet, he still was the most prepared athlete to take the ice every game.

Watching his retirement presser was tough. Unlike Mark Messier, Richter was always smiling and laughing on screen. But now, facing the finality of it all, there were tears. He wasn’t alone and I needed a supply of Messier Kleenex myself.

The Rangers announced on that same day that Mike Richter’s #35 would be raised to the Garden Rafters. It was a fitting reward for a brilliant career and one played for only one team.

Mike Richter was one of the greatest Rangers ever drafted along with Brian Leetch and Henrik Lundqvist. He will always be, “my goaltender”.

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