Pete Stemkowski (21) scored in the third overtime to lift the Rangers past the Blackhawks.
When Marian Gaborik scored late in the third overtime to beat the Washington Capitals 2-1 in game three of their Eastern Conference semifinal the other night , it marked the fourth longest game in New York Rangers history, and the longest since 1939.
The last time Rangers skated this long into the night, Richard Milhous Nixon was President, gas cost 40 cents a gallon and the voting age in the USA was lowered to 18. It was 1971, April 29 to be exact.
That was the night when Pete Stemkowsi knocked in a rebound of a Teddy Irvine shot to beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, and force a seventh game.
There were no smartphones or ESPN in 1971, and computers were bigger than dinosaurs. The Rangers-Blackhawks game was televised somewhere, but not in hockey-mad New England.
However, some enterprising students at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, an industrial city in central Massachusetts, rigged up an antenna to a hi-fi system and picked up the radio broadcast out of New York..
Two score or more students, many of them New Yorkers, crowded into the tiny dorm room, and erupted like it was Madison Square Garden when Stemkowski beat Chicago goalie Tony Esposito to avert elimination.
It was Stemkowski’s second game-winner of the series; he also scored an OT goal in game one.
Despite the Stemmer’s heroics, the Blackhawks went on to win the seventh game, 4-2, and advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. There they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games.
The Habs, led by a rookie goaltender from Cornell named Ken Dryden, had shocked the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games in the quarterfinals, then toppled the Minnesota North Stars in the semifinals.
Longest games in Rangers history
1. Montreal 2, Rangers 1, 4 OT, (128:52), 1930.
2. Rangers 4, Montreal 3 NY, 3OT (119;32), 1932
3. Boston 2, Rangers 1, 3 OT (119:25), 1939
4. Rangers 2, Washington 1, 3OT (114:41), 2012
5. Rangers 3, Chicago 2, 3OT (101:29), 1971
A decade of lousy management is long enough. Goodbye Dr. Evil, Glen Sather.
Let’s not let the Rangers inspired run for the final playoff slot these last few weeks cloud the issue.
Truth is, if the Rangers showed the same intensity in all those mid-season games they messed up, especially the home games, they never would have found themselves in this position.
Bottom line: Glen Sather must go, and take John Tortorella with him. Bring in Mark Messier and Mike Keenan, the two men most responsible for the Rangers only Stanley Cup in 70 years.
Listen, we know James Dolan loves Sather’s Edmonton pedigree. But the guy has been in New York for 10 years now, and has won squat.
In 10 years, Sather’s Rangers have never finished higher than third in their division. And in those 10 years they’ve missed the playoffs five times, and won a total of two playoff series.
During his reign, Sather has released such beloved Rangers as Brian Leetch and Adam Graves and failed to hold on to Jaromir Jagr. That didn’t stop him from bringing in busts like Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik and Scott Gomez, just to name a few.
Other than Tom Renney, Sather’s coaching choices — like Bryan Trottier, Ron Low and himself — have left the Rangers high, dry and misguided.
Tortorella ought to be fired, if for no other reason than his senseless decision to pul goalie Henrik Lundquist in the second period of a loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the final week of the season.
Lundquist carried the Ragners onn his back all season — without him, they are not even sniffing a playoff berth. Sadly, Henrik’s reputation as king of the shootout took a loss in the final loss to the Flyers.
But Lundquist is not the Rangers problem. Sather is. And Torts must go took Time to clean house, Jimmy Dolan.
Bring back some excitement and a winning tradition to the Garden. Bring back Messier and Keenan.
Bryan Hextall is the last New York Ranger to lead the NHL in scoring – in 1942.
Earlier this week, the New York Rangers were shut out twice in a row, wasting two outstanding efforts by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundquist.
The Swedish-born goalie made 77 successive saves before giving up a goal late in the third period against Ottawa. The Senators then added an empty-net goal to beat New York 2-0.
Two nights earlier, Lundquist shut out the New Jersey Devils through regulation and overtime before losing 1-0 in a shootout.
In so many ways, these games typified the Rangers’ lack of scoring punch in their star-crossed history. Through the years this Original Six franchise has had some terrific goaltenders — Chuck, Rayner Gump Worsley, Eddie Giacomin, John Davidson, John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Richter and Lundquist come to mind — but too many times has failed to provide the scoring punch to support these goalies.
Sure, many of the great all-time NHL scorers have worn the Rangers crest, including five of the top seven all-time goal scorers — Wayne Gertzky, Marcel Dionne, Phil Espositio, Mike Gartner and Mark Messier. But all five hard their greatest years with other teams.
You have to go all the way back to 1942 to find the last Ranger to lead the league in goals. Hall of Fame forward Lynn Patrick, left, scored 32 goals that year to top the NHL. No Ranger has done that since.
Hextall Wins Art Ross
That same year, another Ranger Hall of Famer, right winger Bryan Hextall, won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer, with 24 goals and 36 assists for 56 points.
Hextall led the league in goals scored in both 1940 with 24 and and 1941 with 26.
Bill Cook, another Hall of Fame Ranger winger, won the very first Ross Trophy in 1927 and won it again in 1933, the only other Ranger to win the total points award.
Hextall won the Ross 68 years ago, and no Ranger has done it since. Andy Bathgate — yes another Hall of Famer — came close in 1962. Bathgate actually tied Chicago’s Bobby Hull with 84 points, but Hull won the tiebreaker on the strength of his 50 goals to 28 for Bathgate.
The Rangers have had just three 50-goal scorers in their history — Vic Hadfield had 50 in 1972, Adam Graves 52 in 1994 when the Rangers last won the Cup and Jaromir Jagr with a team-record 54 in 2006.
With this historic lack of big play offensive, it should come as no surprise that the Rangers have won exactly one Stanley Cup since 1940.
Unwatchable is a good word to describe the play of teams like the Knicks.
Now that the focus has shifted from the Yankees championship run, New York metropolitan area sports fans have had a rude awakening.
The veil has been lifted, and what we’re left with is mediocrity at best, and far beyond awful at worst.
So far this month, the Yankees have more wins (three) than the Giants, Jets, Knicks and Nets combined (two).*
That’s bound to change on Saturday when the winless Nets (0-12) play the hapless Knicks (2-9) in a Jersey swamp showdown. Somebody’s gonna lose, but somebody’s gotta win too. Plenty of good seats are still available.
Here’s the sorry breakdown, sport by sport:
The Giants, picked by many to be Super Bowl contenders, started the season with five straight wins. But the Giants were facing an easy schedule, and have lost four in a row since they began taking on some real teams.
The Jets began their season with a new coach, high hopes and three straight wins. But since then they have lost five of six, including horrible losses to the Dolphins, Bills and Jaguars.
Fans are wondering, is it possible for a team to go through an entire season without a victory? Nah, the Nets still have four games left with the Knicks, they should be able to win a couple of those.
Meanwhile the Knicks have already bailed on this season. But do they really believe that LeBron, D-Wade or any other free agent would want to play for a franchise that hasn’t won a title since 1973?
The Rangers got off to a great start with seven straight wins, but then stopped scoring goals and are now in a major rut.
The Islanders…or the Icelanders as a local radio personality refers to them….have been lousy for a quarter century.
The Devils are playing well, leaders in the Atlantic Division. But hey, nobody cares. They’re from New Jersey
*Actually the Yankees have three wins in November if you count their Halloween victory over the Phillies, which ended on November 1.
Hockey fans in general, and New York Ranger fans in particular, know all about newly-inducted Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch and his on-ice exploits.
Leetch, the Rangers second all-time leading scorer with 240 goals and 981 points, won the Calder Trophy as top rookie, two Norris Trophies as best defenseman, and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994 when the Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
Who will ever forget his goal in the final game against Vancouver? With New York on the verge of a nervous breakdown after blowing a 3-1 lead in the series, Leetch scored the all-important first goal of the game to help lead the Rangers to a 3-2 win. I’ll never forget it. I was in Madison Square Garden that night.
But there was another side of Brian Leetch that few fans knew, a side I was privileged to witness in person just before Christmas in 2001. Barely three months after the terrible attacks on the Twin Towers, a group of businesses and non-profits, including New York Cares, put on a toys for tots event in Manhattan for those unfortunate children who lost parents in the 9/11 attacks.
This event was held in the Garden, though not on center ice, and lasted most of the day. Other Ranger players came, handed out toys, signed a few autographs, and left.
But Leetch was there when the doors opened, and he didn’t leave until the last toy had been given out and the last child had left. He seemed to have a kind word for all.
There were no news cameras there day, no ESPN coverage, no feature stories in the next day’s Sunday papers.
But I know. I was there to see a great Ranger, and an even greater man, put smiles on kids’ faces and give them a little boost at a time when they needed it most.
You’re a good man, Brian Leetch, because you really do care. A Hall of Famer off the ice as well as on.
Back in the day, Sunday nights were reserved for New York Rangers hockey.
At least in my attic growing up. In the 60s, the Rangers played the vast majority of their home games on Sunday and Wednesday nights. There was no such thing as cable TV in those days, and home games were blacked out.
So my brother Jimbo and I would listen in on the radio as Marv Albert (Kick save…AND A BEAUTY…by Giacomin) did the play by play, accompanied by the Big Whistle, former NHL referee Bill Chadwick.
The Rangers weren’t very good in those days, but they were getting better. Led by Harry Howell, Ed Giacomin, Jean Ratelle, Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert, they made the playoffs in 1967 for the first time in five years, The Rangers went on to nine successive playoff appearances, highlighted by the 1972 team that lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals.
Watching those games on the radio brings back great memories, like Reggie Fleming’s late goal against the Canadiens, shutouts by Giacommin, and Red Berenson hitting the post in overtime against the Habs in 1967. Can still hear that ping.
The Original Six
And remember, Before the 1967-68 campaign, there were only six teams in the league, the Original Six — New York, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto. Familiarity bred contempt.
You got to know the players, both Rangers and opponents. You got to know the teams. And you got to appreciate Marv, one of the all-time great hockey play-by-play radio announcers.
I went to my first Rangers game in December 1967 against the Bruins. My Dad took me, my brother, and my friend Mike, now a winemaker, to the old Madison Square Garden. The Rangers lost, 4-0. (1)
Tonight, the Rangers will honor two members of the team from the 50s and 60s — Hall of Famers Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell — by retiring their jersey numbers.
Bathgate and Howell joined the team, a pair of 19-year-old rookies, in the same season, 1952. I remember Howell at the late stages of his career, but by the time I started paying attention to hockey Bathgate had been traded.
Bathgate Traded to Toronto
On Feb. 22, 1964, Bathgate, along with Don McKenney, was traded to the Maple Leafs for Dick Duff, Bob Nevin, Arnie Brown, Bill Collins and Rod Seiling, Bathgate scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for Toronto later that season as the Leafs knocked out Detroit in seven games.
A right winger, Bathgate played 11 seasons and part of a 12th with the Rangers before being traded.
Bathgate scored 349 goals and added 624 assists during his career. During his time with the Rangers, he won the Hart Trophy in 1959 when he scored 40 goals and 48 assists. Bathgate twice led the league in assists during that span, and tied Chicago’s Bobby Hull for the scoring title with 84 points in 1962 (Hull won the Art Ross Trophy on a tiebreaker by scoring 50 goals; Bathgate led the league with 58 assists that season). (2)
Howell started his career with the Rangers in 1952, the same year as Bathgate, and played 17 full seasons with the Blueshirts before being traded to the Oakland Seals for cash following the 1969 season. He played more games in a Ranger uniform — 1160 – than any other player.
Howell Wins Norris Trophy
Howell’s best year was 1967, when he won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL. Howell scored a career-high 12 goals that year and added 28 assists for 40 points.
Boston’s magnificent Bobby Orr would start a run of eight successive Norris awards the following season.
Both Howell and Bathgate finished their careers in the WHA, Howell with the Calgary Cowboys in 1976 and Bathgate with the Vancouver Blazers a year earlier, coming out of a three-year retirement for one last shot.
Both Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell took their best shot in New York.
(1) I got my revenge two years later. In my first Rangers game at the new Madison Square Garden I saw the Rangers rout the Bruins, 9-0.
(2) The Rangers last scoring leader with Bryan Hextall, who recorded 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 1942.
It was a tough call, but in the end Bucky Dent won out. The SportsLifer’s top 50 memorable sports events attended came down to a pair of decisive baseball games between the Red Sox and Yankees 25 years apart.
Bucky Dent’s decisive three-run homer against the Red Sox in the 1978 American League East playoff game at Fenway Park in Boston got the nod. The Dent game edged out Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning of the 2003 American League Championship Series contest at Yankee Stadium.
The tiebreaker — the Yankees beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1978 to win the World Series. The 2003 Yankees lost to the World Series to the Florida Marlins.
Other top 10 entrants include a Stanley Cup final, World Series clincher, Super Bowl, Triple Crown horse race, NCAA basketball Final Four and Winter Olympics. Counting a major golf tournament, the ‘Lifer has seen all the major championship sporting events, with the exception of the NBA Finals.
Here’s the final countdown.
TOP 10 SPORTING EVENTS
10. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Ted Williams homer in the same game, Yankees beat Red Sox 5-4, 1960
9. Figure skating, speed skating, the men’s long ski jump and snowmobiling, Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City, 2002
8. Florida repeats as national champion with win over Ohio State, Final Four, NCAA Tournament, Atlanta, 2007
7. Affirmed edges Alydar down the stretch, wins by a neck and captures horse racing’s last Triple Crown, Belmont Stakes, 1978
6. David Wells pitches the first perfect game at Yankee Stadium since Don Larsen, Yankees beat Twins 4-0, 1998
5. Ravens defense overwhelms Giants, Baltimore defeats News York 34-7 and wins Super Bowl XXXV, 2001
4. Yankees beat Braves 4-1, complete four-game sweep of Atlanta to win World Series, Yankee Stadium,1999
3. Rangers end 54-year hex, Mark Messier scores game-winnng goal to beat Vancouver Canucks 3-2 and win Stanley Cup, 1994
2. Aaron Boone’s walk-off home run in 11th beats Red Sox 6-5, gives Yankees 39th AL pennant, Yankee Stadium, 2003
1. Bucky Dent ‘s three-run homer propels Yankees to 5-4 win over Red Sox and AL East title, Fenway Park, 1978
My first major league game features six Hall of Famers, White Sox 7, Yankees 1, Yankee Stadium 1958
First installment: 41-50. includes the St. Louis Hawks, Holy Cross, and a Ranger rout.
Second installment: 31-40. stars Lew Alcindor, The Mick, and the Boston Marathon.
Third installment: (21-30), recalls the play of Willie Mays, Joe Namath and Lawrence Taylor and others.
Fourth installment, (11-20). includes record-setting moments by Barry Bonds, Jim Hickman, Roger Clemens and Eric Young.