February 4 in NYR history: #35 joins Ranger legends

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 4: Former goalie of the New York Rangers Mike Richter is presented by former Ranger Adam Graves during his #35 jersey retirement ceremony prior to the Rangers' game against the Minnesota Wild on February 4, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 4: Former goalie of the New York Rangers Mike Richter is presented by former Ranger Adam Graves during his #35 jersey retirement ceremony prior to the Rangers' game against the Minnesota Wild on February 4, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

What happened on February 4 in New York Rangers history

Today was the day that Mike Richter joined the immortals in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.  The ceremony was held on February 4, 2004 before a SRO crowd and it was only the third time a number had been retired in franchise history. Richter’s number 35 joined Rod Gilbert’s number seven and Eddie Giacomin’s number one.

The honor came very quickly for Richter as he had retired just six months before, calling it quits in September 2003.  He retired after not playing a game after sustaining a concussion in November 2002 in a game against Edmonton.

Richter, 37, played 15 seasons for the Rangers and he was in goal when the team ended its Stanley Cup drought in 1994.  Since the ceremony came so soon after his retirement, most of the current team were his teammates including Brian Leetch and Mark Messier.

Richter was honored in a 45 minute ceremony, presented with a  19 foot boat named “True Blue 35” and  a silver goal net.  He surprised everyone by announcing that he was going to Yale University to get his college degree.  Richter had attended the University of Wisconsin before turning pro.

Zibanejad’s awesome streak

On this date in 2019, Mika Zibanejad had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.  It meant that he had a point on ten straight New York goals, the first Ranger to accomplish that feat and the ninth NHL player to do it.

The streak spanned five games and started in a 3-2 win over Boston on January 19 when he scored the last two goals.  He then had points on each Ranger goal in games against New Jersey, Tampa and the first two goals against the Kings.  The streak ended when Adam McQuaid scored an unassisted goal in the third period.  The Rangers were shut out in one game in the streak, by the Flyers. He totaled six goals and four assists over the ten goals.

A long time between wins

On this date in 1971, goalie Gilles Villemure shut out the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 on the road.  Rod Gilbert scored the only Rangers goal in the victory at the Olympia in Detroit.  It would be 22 years before another Ranger goalie pitched a 1-0 road shutout.

On February 27, 1993, Mike Richter shut out the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton with the only goal coming from Tony Amonte.  Henrik Lundqvist was the last Ranger to do it, shutting out Detroit 1-0 last January.

The Flower returns home

On this date in 1989, Guy Lafleur returned home to play the Montreal Canadiens for the first time since November 24, 1984. He was greeted with a three minute standing ovation as the Montreal fans chanted his name every time he was on the ice. The crowd was ecstatic when he notched an assist on the first Rangers goal, but they were delirious when he scored two goals in the second period, the second on a breakaway when he beat Patrick Roy.

Despite going into the third period with a 5-3 lead, the Rangers allowed five straight goals and lost the game, 7-5.   It was a game reminiscent of the return of Ed Giacomin to Madison Square Garden to 1975, but Lafleur’s magic could go only so far as an overmatched New York team couldn’t overcome the Habs who would go on to lose the Stanley Cup Final.

The Rangers had played one game earlier that season, but Lafleur had been out with a broken foot.

A snow game

In 1961 on this date, the Rangers played Boston in a game that was delayed over two hours due to a snowstorm. The Rangers beat the Bruins 2-1 despite having only 13 players in uniform. Four players had missed their train connection due to the storm.  3,539 fans braved the blizzard to see the game and the referees hustled the game along, not calling many penalties so that it would finish before Boston’s midnight curfew. They made it by six minutes.  At this point in its history, the NHL had never cancelled a game due to weather.

The immortal Dunc Wilson

Most Rangers fans don’t remember a goalie named Dunc Wilson who played 23 games over two seasons for the Rangers in the mid 1970s.  If they do, it’s probably because of a game played on this date in 1976  at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers took on the Islanders and lost 6-5, but what made it distinctive was Wilson’s fight with Bob Nystrom after the Isles had scored two goals in 11 seconds. It was a wild one.  Wilson punched Nystrom twice, but never took his mask off.  Defenseman Nick Beverly jumped in to help Wilson and got knocked unconscious by Garry Howatt.  Despite taking the worst in the tussle, Beverly was the one who got the game misconduct for being third man in.

Wilson injured his thumb hitting Nystrom and had to leave the game and was replaced by John Davidson who gave up four third period goals as the Islanders overcame a 4-2 deficit.  It was Davidson first game back from a broken leg and coach John Ferguson admitted after the game that Davidson wasn’t ready.

Wilson also wore a mask that featured the Confederate flag. His explanation was that growing up in Toronto he had always been considered a rebel. That certainly would be unacceptable these days.

A big personal mark for Gretzky

On this date in 1999, Wayne Gretzky scored his 1071st goal including his playoffs and WHA totals and that tied his idol, Gordie Howe.  It came in an 8-4 win over the Canucks at Madison Square Garden.

Gretzky scored and NHL record 894 goals and also tallied 46 goals in the WHA.   He added 122 goals in the NHL playoffs and 10 in the WHA playoffs.   He had already passed Howe’s NHL total of 801 regular season and 869 NHL playoff goals.  Gretzky would score only one more goal in his NHL career.

A versatile Don Maloney

On this date in 1981, Don Maloney becomes the third Ranger to get a shorthanded, power play and even strength goal in the same game.It came in a 9-3 win over the Islanders at Madison Square Garden. In 1970, Dave Balon was the first Blueshirt to accomplish the feat and Bruce McGregor matched it in 1971.

Since Maloney did it, an additional eight other Rangers have done it with Chris Kreider the most recent on January 22.

Today’s birthdays

32 NHL players have been born on February 4 with six who have worn a Rangers jersey including a current player.

Libor Hajek was born on this date in 1998 in Smrcek, Czech Republic.  Acquired in the Ryan McDonagh trade from Tampa in 2018, Hajek has appeared 33 games over two seasons in New York.  As a birthday present, Hajek is making his 2021 debut in a game against the Capitals.

Lee Stempniak was a well traveled right winger who was born on this date in 1982 in West Seneca, New York.  In 14 years in the NHL he played for 10 different teams including the Rangers in 2014-15.  He scored nine goals in 53 game before  a trade deadline deal to Winnipeg.

Steve Patrick was born on February 4, 1961 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and played parts of two seasons with the Rangers.  He came to New York in 1984 in a trade for Dave Maloney as the Rangers reunited him with his brother, defenseman James Patrick.  He scored 15 goals in 71 games before being traded to Quebec for Wilf Paiement. His family connections don’t end there.  He is the father of Philadelphia forward Nolan Patrick.

Jeff Bandura was born on this date in 1957 in White Rock, British Columbia.  The defenseman made it the NHL for only two games, both with the Rangers in 1980.  He got an assist in his NHL debut against Colorado,  but was returned to the AHL and never made it back to the big leagues.

Dave Pichette was a defenseman from Grand Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador  who was born on this date in 1960.  He ended his seven year NHL career with the Rangers in the 1987-88 season, playing six games in New York.  He did score on goal and add three assists in the six games.  He had scored 17 goals as a blueliner for the Devils in 1984-85.

Dave Marcinyshyn was born on this date in 1957 in Edmonton, Alberta. He was a defenseman signed as a free agent by the Rangers in 1992. He made it to New York for two games in 1993.

The numbers

The Rangers have played 41 games on February 4 and it is one of their best days in the month with only 10 regulation losses.

Games: 41
Regulation wins: 20
Regulation losses: 10
Ties: 9
Overtime wins: 1
Overtime losses: 1
Points percentage: .634

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