Friday, August 20, 2010

Making Their Cases For The Mount

By now you've seen Puck Daddy's Mount Puckmore summer series where a blogger has been selected to honour four of the pillars of their respective franchise. As Leahy explained, they are "the four defining faces of their franchise. These four people are who you remember most when you think of these teams -- whether they be players, coaches or executives." Playing the part of the Borglums (the father and son who carved the original) for the Rangers will be whomever Wysh picks. While I don't think that fella will follow suit with the overwhelming majority in the "who you remember most" all being '94 guys, I figured I go through some of the candidates (alphabetically) and explain why they should and why they shouldn't be etched in digital stone. My selections are bolded ...

Andy Bathgate
+ The face of the Rangers for the 50s; 1958-59 Hart Trophy; eight All Star berths; 729 points in 719 regular season games.
- No Stanley Cups with New York; captained the team for just three seasons.

Frank Boucher
+ Won two Stanley Cups as a player and coached the Blueshirts to a third; had the Fan Club's most popular player trophy named after him; was with the team from 1926 through 1954 as a player, coach and GM.
- Walk around the Garden now and 90% of the people will have no idea who he was.

Bill Cook
+ One of the most dominant players in NHL history; won two Stanley Cups; 367 points in 474 games in the original dead puck era.
- Walk around the Garden now and 95% of the people will have no idea who he was; a Gretzky-esque failure as a coach in the early 50s.

Emile Francis
+ Sixteen years with the franchise; coached the team to the '72 Finals; drafted Brad Park, Steve Vickers, Pat Hickey and Rick Middleton; started the New York Junior League.
- No Cups; wasn't a particularly good goaltender.

Eddie Giacomin
+ Greatest goaltender in Ranger history; adored by the Faithful; 267-174-89 record; team-record 49 shutouts.
- No Cups.

Rod Gilbert
+ Collected 1,065 points and a team-record 406 goals over 15 seasons; team ambassador; eight All-Star games; Masterton Trophy winner.
- No Cups; had some great help with GAG linemates Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield.

Adam Graves
+ Beat Hadfield's regular-season record 50 goals with 52 in 93-94; 1994 Stanley Cup; team ambassador; Masterton Trophy winner.
- Played in the shadow of Messier.

Ron Greschner
+ Played over 1,000 games including playoffs; second-most career points by a Ranger defenseman; helped drive the Rangers to the 1979 Cup Final; defensive stalwart.
- No Cups; never considered among the best blueliners in the league.

Harry Howell
+ Played more games in a Blueshirt than anyone; defensive stalwart; 1966-67 Norris Trophy.
- No Cups; named the Rangers' MVP just once over his entire tenure.

Brian Leetch
+ All-time leading scorer among Ranger defensemen; two Norris Trophies; 1994 Stanley Cup; '94 Conn Smythe; Calder Trophy.
- Horrible as team captain; stupid injuries robbed him of some prime time.

Henrik Lundqvist
+ Three-time Vezina finalist; 177 wins in 338 regular season games; collected 30 or more wins each of his five NHL seasons.
- No Cups yet; no awards; biggest successes came overseas.

Mark Messier
+ Messiah; the Guarantee; The Captain; 1994 Stanley Cup.
- Everything was downhill after 94; went after Vancouver's money; second-stint nothing less than horrible.

Lester Patrick
+ One of Hockey's Royal Family; took over for Conn Smythe and built the Blueshirts; coach, GM and VP over a 24 year career; Lester Patrick Trophy; Patrick Division; one game as goaltender a puck legend.
- Walk around the Garden now and 90% of the people will have no idea who he was.

Mike Richter
+ All-time Ranger win leader with 301 victories over 666 appearances; stopped Pavel Bure on perhaps the most famous penalty shot in hockey history; 1994 Stanley Cup.
- Only two seasons with 30 or more wins; variety of injury woes; never considered among the best goaltenders in the business.

Neil Smith
+ Built the 1994 Rangers including trading for Messier and Graves and drafting Sergei Nemchinov, Alexei Kovalev, Doug Weight, and Sergei Zubov.
- Played a big part in steering the NHL towards the lockout with outrageous salaries.

Others deserving of a moment's consideration: Bill Gadsby, Buddy O'Connor, Jaromir Jagr, Chuck Rayner, Lynn Patrick, Phil Esposito, Dean Prentice, Rod Seiling, Walt Tkaczuk, Jim Neilson, John Vanbiesbrouck, Steve Vickers, Ratelle and Hadfield.

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