The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
An “Original Six” squad, there’s no shortage of sensational star power with the New York Rangers. Since their founding in 1926, the Rangers have won four Stanley Cup titles in 88 seasons.
Through the years the team has boasted the likes of, Brian Leetch, Mark Messier, Rod Gilbert, Ed Giacomin, Andy Bathgate, Harry Howell, Jean Ratelle, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, Henrik Lundqvist, Vic Hadfield, Bill Cook, Walt Tkaczuk, Ron Greschner, Brad Park, Gump Worsley, John Vanbiesbrouck, Jim Neilson and Steve Vickers.
So, which players make their “Franchise Four?”
4. The Goalie – Ed Giacomin
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Henrik Lundqvist has the numbers. Mike Richter has the Stanley Cup. Giacomin had the hearts and minds of Blueshirts fans. A Vezina Trophy winner and six-time All-Star, Giacomin led the league in victories in three consecutive seasons, before overtime and shootouts existed. Giacomin also led the league in games played and minutes four times and shutouts three times. In Rangers franchise history, Giacomin ranks fourth in games (538), third in victories (266) and second in shutouts (49).
3. The Wild Card – Rod Gilbert
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. A seven-time All-Star, Gilbert also won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1975-76. Renown as the right wing part of the “GAG line” with Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield, Gilbert was the first Ranger to have his number retired at Madison Square Garden. Gilbert once posted 43-goals and netted 30 or more tallies in five seasons. In club history, Gilbert ranks third in games played (1,065), first in goals (406), second in assists (615) and first in points (1,021), even strength goals (287), power play goals (108) and game winning tallies (50). Gilbert notched 67 points in 79 postseason contests.
2. The Forward – Mark Messier
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Messier helped changed the fortunes of the Rangers, Captaining them to a Stanley Cup title in 1993-94. With the Rangers, Messier was a five-time All-Star and in 1991-92 won the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. Through 70 playoff games, Messier recorded 95 points. During the championship season of 1993-94, Messier registered 30 points and four game-winning markers in the postseason. Included in those game winners was Messier’s Game 6 victory guarantee where he netted a natural hat-trick in the Eastern Conference Finals and Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. In Rangers club history, Messier ranks seventh in goals (250), sixth in assists (441), fifth in points (691), third in game-winning goals (41) and first in short-handed tallies (23).
1. The Defenseman – Brian Leetch
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. In his rookie campaign, Leetch won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1988-89. Leetch was a nine-time All-Star and twice a winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy. Helping the Rangers hoist the Stanley Cup in 1993-94, Leetch became the first American born player to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. During that postseason, Leetch led all skaters with 23 helpers, 34 points, a plus 19 rating and four game-winning goals. In Rangers franchise history, Leetch ranks second in games (1,129), ninth in goals (240), first in assists (741), second in points (981) and second in power play goals (106).