The New York Rangers have made great strides this millennium in honoring some of the greatest players in their history. However, they still have some catching up to do.
The New York Rangers have played two games simultaneously over parts of the last 15 years.
On the ice they’ve been one of the NHL’s best clubs since the players’ lockout in 2004-05, winning at least 40 games ten times, two Presidents’ trophies and a Prince of Wales crown during that span.
Off the ice the Rangers have played catch-up, backtracking to honor some of the greatest players in team history and dutifully raising their uniform numbers to the rafters of Madison Square Garden.
However, the team’s work in that department is far from done. The next players the Blueshirts should honor are Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park and long-time blueliner Ron Greschner.
Some have already called on the team to send Park’s No. 2 to the rafters next to Hall of Famer Brian Leetch’s. Agreed. While they’re at it, the Rangers should bestow the same honor upon Greschner and his No. 4.
Both are long overdue.
During his prime, Park was the NHL’s second-best defenseman behind Bobby Orr.
Picked second overall in the 1966 Amateur Draft, Park was a four-time runner-up to Orr in Norris Trophy voting. He had 95 goals and 283 assists for 378 points, and 738 penalty minutes in 465 games for the Rangers before being dispatched to the Boston Bruins.
Greschner spent his entire 16-year NHL career with the Rangers and his 981 games played is exceeded only by Rod Gilbert with 1,065. He ranks second to Leetch among all-time team defensemen in goals (179), assists (431) and points (610). “Gresch” also is the franchise’s leader in PIMs with 1,226.
A strong skater with wonderful stickhandling ability, Greschner was one of the league’s best two-way defensemen. Durable, too. In his first seven seasons, he played more than 70 games in each season but one (although injuries would plague him for much of the next nine years).