NHL - METROPOLITAN
Stadium: Madison Square Garden
Coach: Gerard Gallant
2022-2023 TEAM LEADERS
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers, sometimes referred to as the “blue shirts” after their iconic jerseys, are an NHL team in the Metropolitan Division based out of New York City, New York.
The Rangers are one of 6 original teams in the NHL established in 1926, along with the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Though the team had some success in the NHL before the expansion of 1967 with 3 Stanley Cup wins in 1928, 1933, and 1940, the Rangers would see one of the most prolonged cup droughts in history spanning from 1940-1994.
The team shares close proximity to two other NHL teams: The Long Island-based New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils, who reside across the Hudson River.
As a result of their close proximity and shared division, the teams share some of the fiercest rivalries in the league with numerous memorable playoff matchups.
The Rangers entered the National Hockey League all the way back in 1926, nine years after the NHL was first established in 1917. Playing in Madison Square Garden in the heart of Manhattan, the Rangers were originally notorious for being active in New York City’s vibrant nightlife during the height of the roaring 20s.
Just two years after joining the league, the Rangers would win their first cup with a 3-2 win over the now-defunct Montreal Maroons. After joining the league, the Rangers would make the postseason 15 out of 16 seasons, including another Stanley Cup win in 1933.
The Rangers would struggle after their win in 1940, lacking any remarkable success until the late 70s and 80s. After the introduction of the New York Islanders in 1972, the Rangers were caught in a consistently fierce playoff series with their Long Island neighbors, finding another Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1979 but falling short in a 4-1 series loss to the Canadiens.
The team would snap their cup drought in 1994 under the leadership of Mark Messier, winning their first cup since the 1967 NHL expansion.
The Rangers entered a new era after drafting franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist in 2000. Though he would win the Vezina in 2012 and set several NHL records, the team could never win a cup with their core throughout the 2000s or 2010s and have since entered a rebuild, looking to become a serious contender once again.
2022 Key Stats
It looks as if the Rangers are finally coming out of the rebuild stage, emerging as one of the top teams in the Metropolitan Division in an extremely competitive year.
New York is an extremely young team loaded to the brim with prospects, some of which are still waiting on a breakout season. Alexis Lafreniere has yet to prove he was the right choice as the 2020 first overall pick, while Kaapo Kakko still doesn’t quite look elite.
That said, defenseman Adam Fox has emerged as one of the top defenders in the league, currently on a point-per-game pace with five goals and 31 assists in 36 games played. Fox won the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in the league last season as a 22-year-old and has shown that he has no plans of slowing down any time soon.
Artemi Panarin leads the team in scoring, with ten goals and 26 assists on the season already, despite being in and out due to COVID protocol. Team captain Chris Kreider is having a fantastic season and leads the team in goals, with an impressive 21 already scored this year.
Igor Shesterkin has proven to be the new face of the team in the net, with an impressive .936 SV% this season. Though he has dealt with injuries and COVID protocol, the young goaltender has filled a massive hole on the team after the departure of Henrik Lundqvist.
His backup, Alexandar Georgiev, has had a less impressive season so far with a record of 7-4-2 and a SV% of .903.
Championships Won by the Team
The Rangers have won four Stanley Cups in franchise history, though three were won before the NHL expansion of 1967. Because there were significantly fewer teams (many of whom no longer exist) and a wildly different playoff format, most cup wins won after 1967 are viewed as more prestigious nowadays.
The pre-expansion cups were won in 1928, 1933, and 1940 and were won by teams with players consisting of Bill Cook, Frank Boucher, Ching Johnson, Earl and Babe Siebert, Bryan Hextall, Neil Coville, and Lynn Patrick.
One fun fact about these cup wins- the 1928 finals were played entirely in Montreal due to the circus being in town and taking up Madison Square Garden!
The fourth Stanley Cup would snap the 54-year drought in 1994 after winning the President’s Trophy in a 52-24-8 season. The Rangers bested the Vancouver Canucks 4-3, with Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch winning the Conn Smyth after putting up a monster 34 points in 23 games.
Team captain Mark Messier wasn’t far behind him, leading in goals scored with 12 and adding 18 assists. Alex Kovalev (21 points) and Sergei Zubov (19) also contributed significantly to spread out the scoring, while goaltender Mike Richter put up a .921 SV% on the backend of the ice.
Important Team Events
In 1979, forward Ulf Nilsson had just signed on with the team after torching the WHA with the Winnipeg Jets. In his first season with the Rangers, Nilsson had amassed an impressive 66 points in 59 games, clearly destined to be one of the next star players for the franchise.
However, on February 25th, 1979, the Rangers hosted their rivals from Long Island, the Islanders, in a highly competitive contest. Islanders captain Denis Potvin laid a big hit on the young Rangers forward during the game. According to Nilsson, his skate had gotten stuck in the crevice of the ice just before the collision, resulting in a freak accident and devastating injury.
However, to the fans, the injury appeared to be solely from the Islanders’ captain, resulting in an instant brawl and the birth of the “Potvin sucks!” chant.
Both teams were highly competitive going into the 80s, resulting in one of the most intense rivalries in the league. The “Potvin sucks” chant is still active today at MSG, despite Potvin’s retirement in 1988.
Rod Gilbert holds the current franchise record for most goals (406) and points (1021). Gilbert played for the Rangers from 1962-1978, staying in New York for the entirety of his career and joining the organization as the president of the alumni association. Gilbert’s number was retired just one year after retiring from the team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.
Defenseman Brian Leetch holds the franchise records for assists with 741. Leetch was instrumental in the Rangers’ Stanley Cup win in 1994 and cemented himself as one of the most outstanding defensemen of all time.
For most of his career, Leetch was in New York, being drafted by the Rangers in 1987 and remaining on the team until 2004, being one of only five defensemen ever to score over 100 points in a season.
His Stanley Cup win came with the help of Mark Messier, another iconic Ranger. Messier joined the Rangers after demanding a trade from Edmonton in 1991 and was captain during their Stanley Cup run of 1994.
Rangers fans remember Messier for scoring the game-winning goal of game seven that ended the 54-year championship drought.
The Rangers have had a total of 36 coaches throughout their history and are currently under the leadership of Gerard Gallant after his hire in 2021. Though Gallant hasn’t been with the team long, the Rangers are currently flourishing under his leadership in the 2022 season and have emerged as one of the top teams in the league after years of rebuilding.
Mike Keenan was the Rangers coach for their 1994 Stanley Cup win, coaching for only one season but securing the President’s Trophy and the championship.
Before Keenan, Roger Nielson was the main head coach, securing another President’s Trophy win in 1992 but never quite making the final steps to a championship.
Lester Patrick was the first head coach in Rangers’ history and holds the franchise record for most wins at 281. Patrick coached the team from its inception in 1926 through 1939, winning 2 Stanley Cups along the way. He was followed by former Ranger Frank Boucher from 1939-1948, winning the 3rd cup in 1940.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Rangers are one of the Original Six teams and date all the way back to 1926.
Rod Gilbert holds the franchise record in scoring and was referred to as “Mr. Ranger” for his offensive talent. However, Brian Leetch has the franchise record in assists and was one of the best defensemen of all time in terms of both the Rangers and the league.
The Rangers have won the Stanley Cup 4 times, winning in 1928, 1933, 1940, and 1994. The 1994 win is the only championship won by the team after the 1967 NHL expansion.
In 1979, Islanders captain Denis Potvin laid a hit that injured young Rangers forward Ulf Nilsson. Though Nilsson claims his skate was stuck in a crack due to poor ice conditions, Rangers fans have chanted “Potvin sucks” for he hit every year since the injury- a tradition that is still alive today.
While all of the Original Six teams have some bad blood due to the long history behind them, the Rangers’ biggest rivals are the Islanders of Long Island and the New Jersey Devils/ All three teams share the New York City metro area, and have won cups in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1994, 1995, 2000, and 2003 between the three teams. This string of championship caliber competition and close proximity has resulted in some of the biggest rivalries in the NHL!