Today in Rangers history: The ultimate honor for Vic Hadfield

What happened on December 2 in the history of the New York Rangers

December 2, 2018 was a big night for Rangers legend Vic Hadfield.  It was the night that  he became the third member of the famed GAG line to have his number raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden joining Rod Gilbert and Jean Ratelle.

Number 11 already hung from the rafters in honor of Mark Messier, but Hadfield deserved the honor as well.  He played the first 13 of 16 NHL seasons in New York and achieved immortality by becoming the first Blueshirt to score 50 goals in a season.

The 1971-72 season will go down in history as the best by a Rangers left wing as Hadfield scored 50 goals and added 56 assists for 106 points.  He was a second team All-Star as the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final, losing in six games to the Boston Bruins.

His 50 goals is third most, his 106 points in fourth most and his 23 power play goals is second most in one season for a Ranger, all from that 1971-72 campaign.

Hadfield was the Rangers captain from 1971 to 1974 and he is the top ten in every major offensive category in franchise history.  He is fifth all time in goals (262), power play goals (83) and penalty minutes (1,041).

December 2, 2018 was the last time that the Rangers have retired a number.  Next up, Henrik Lundqvist.

Hello Brooklyn

On December 2,  2015 the Rangers played their first game ever in Brooklyn, losing to the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout at the Barclays Center.  It was a goaltending duel between Henrik Lundqvist and Jaroslav Halak with the only goals scored by John Tavares and Viktor Stalberg.  Kyle Okposo was the only player who scored in the skills competition.

Despite the fact that the Brooklyn Americans were in the NHL for the 1941-42 season, they played their home games at Madison Square Garden so this truly was a Brooklyn debut.

So, in a curious twist, the Rangers played the Brooklyn Americans in Manhattan and the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.

37 years between games

On December 2, 1967 the Rangers played their first game in Pittsburgh in 37 years.  They beat the expansion Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.   It was the first time the Rangers played an NHL game in Pittsburgh since January 18, 1930 when they defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5.  After that season, the Pirates moved to Philadelphia as the Quakers where they played for one year before folding.

The numbers

The Rangers have played 30 games on December 2 in their history.  Here are the numbers:

Regulation wins:  13
Regulation losses:  11
Ties:  3
Overtime losses:  1
Shootout losses:  2
Points percentage:   .533

Today’s birthdays

25 NHL players have been born on December 2 with a number of New York Rangers among them including one current Blueshirt.

Morgan Barron was born on this date in 1998 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He made his Rangers debut last season, playing in seven games after an excellent NCAA career at Cornell.  He is currently in Hartford, but the center is one of the team’s top prospects and is ticketed for an NHL career with the Rangers.

Jesper Fast was born on this date in 1991 in Nassjo, Sweden. One of the most beloved players on the Rangers, the right winger built a reputation as a great teammate and solid defensive player who could chip in offensively.  He played seven seasons with the Rangers, making his debut in their playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.    His teammates honored him by giving him the Players’ Player Award for five straight years.  He signed with the Carolina Hurricanes as a free agent in 2020.

Val Fonteyne was a left winger born on this date in 1933 in  Wetaskiwin, Alberta.  He had a long 13-year career in the NHL and ended with two years in the WHA.  He was a Ranger for 96 games  over two seasons from 1963-65, scoring seven goals and 26 points.  An excellent defensive forward, he accumulated only 26 penalty minutes over 823 NHL games.

Bill McCreary was a left winger, born on December 2, 1934 in Sundridge, Ontario. He made his debut in 1953 with the Rangers and played 10 games in two seasons in New York. He did make it as a regular with the St. Louis Blues for four years.  He is not to be confused with his nephew, also named Bill McCreary, who was an NHL referee for 27 years and is in the Hall of Fame.

Thomas Pock was born on this date in 1981 in Klagenfurt, Austria.   He is one of 15 Austrian players to play in the NHL and the defenseman was the first New York Ranger born in Austria (Michael Grabner is the other).    He played parts of four seasons for the Rangers including 44 games in 2006-07.   Waived by the Rangers in 2008, he was claimed by the Islanders and played one final NHL season with them before returning to Europe.

Dick Bouchard was born on this date in 1934 in Lettelier, Manitoba.  He was a right winger who is one of those players who played only one game in the NHL, for the Rangers. That one game was when he was 20 years old  and was on January 2, 1955. Held scoreless, he never played in the NHL again, though played in the minor leagues until 1964.