One of hockey’s most famous clubs is the New York Rangers. Formed in 1926 as one of the “Original Six” NHL teams, the Rangers came out guns blazing in the new league. In just the second year of their existence in 1928, New York won their first Stanley Cup title, making the ultimate statement in a league that was usually dominated by Canadian teams at that time.
Heroes in that first Rangers’ championship included Bill Cook, Frank Boucher, and manager Lester Patrick, the 44-year-old coach who filled in at goalkeeper following an injury in Game 2. The kind of legendary story that so often happened in the early years of the league, Patrick helped the team to a win, and the eventual title.
The Rangers reached the Stanley Cup Finals the following year but went on to lose. In 1933, they would win a second title with many of the same players by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1940, at the end of the decade, New York would again regain the championship, again beating the Maple Leafs. Art Coulter and Clint Smith led the team that tremendous year.
Unfortunately, this would be the Rangers’ last Stanley Cup for over 50 years as their early years of success failed to build upon an expanding league and greater competition. In the 1970’s, New York came close to winning a title on two occasions, but ultimately fell short both times, losing in 1972 to the Boston Bruins and in 1979 to the Montreal Canadiens. Though such great playoff runs did end in disappointment, exciting seasons abounded with star players like Phil Esposito, Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle, and Anders Hedberg.
The Rangers turned a corner in 1991 when they acquired Hall of Fame player Mark Messier, formerly of the Edmonton Oilers, who had dominated the NHL in the 1980’s behind Messier and Wayne Gretzky. In New York, Messier helped the Rangers win lots of games, but most importantly, persevere though tough playoff encounters.
In 1994, the stars aligned for New York. Messier, Sergei Zubov, Adam Graves, and Brian Leetch led the way. In a fantastic and dramatic run, the Rangers took the Stanley Cup by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games! It would be the last title to date for this famous NHL club.
The Rangers stayed relevant throughout the 1990’s, and even held Gretzky for a few years, but further playoff success remained elusive. In the early 2000’s, the club failed to reach the playoffs for 7 years! However, the team eventually began to rebuild themselves back into contenders.
The recent resurgence has been thanks in large part to their superstar goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, one of the league’s top players. Additionally, guys like Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, and Brad Richards have helped the Rangers become a powerful team once again. The team nearly claimed a 5th Stanley Cup title in 2014 but ultimately fell short to the Los Angeles Kings. However, the writing on the wall is clear and it seems to be just a matter of time before they win it all again. Still playing in their historic home of Madison Square Gardens since day one, the Rangers are one of the most proud and impressive teams the NHL have ever seen!
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