On February 11 in NYR history: Last game at the old Garden

The former home of the New York Rangers (Photo by Getty Images)
The former home of the New York Rangers (Photo by Getty Images) /

What happened on February 11 in the history of the New York Rangers

February 11, 1968 was a sad day for many fans of the New York Rangers as the team played its last game at the old Madison Square Garden before moving into their new, state of the art arena atop Penn Station.

This game was the last in what was the third Madison Square Garden, located at Eighth Avenue and 49th Street.  It was built in 1925 by Tex Rickard, the founder of the New York Rangers.

The game was against the Detroit Red Wings and ended in a 3-3 tie. There was a ceremony before the game that feature 62 of the greatest players to ever skate on Garden ice including Ching Johnson, Frank Boucher,and Bill and Bun Cook, all who played in the first Ranger home game in 1926.  Opposition players included Maurice “Rocket” Richard and the Detroit Red Wings “Production Line” of Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay.  The Red Wings trio thrilled the crowd with one last rush down the ice, but missed their shot.  Richard put a slapshot into the net with ease.

In their history, the Rangers played 1,270 games at the arena with a record of 560-456-254 for a points percentage of .541%.  The Rangers scored 3,666 goals at the old Garden with the first  scored by Bill Cook in a 1-0 shutout over the Montreal Maroons.  The last was scored by Jean Ratelle.  It was the tying goal and the last goal of any kind at the Garden.

The capacity crowd of 15,925 was thrilled when the Rangers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to get the tie, then they did their best to leave with a souvenir of the arena.  Signs, section markers and even seats were ripped down or apart although Garden security did their best to keep the souvenir hunting to a minimum.

A milestone for Lundqvist

On this date in 2017, Henrik Lundqvist won his 400th game,  becoming the 12th goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.  It was a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.   The Rangers rallied with three third period goals for the win.

For Lundqvist, he joined Martin Brodeur and Tony Esposito as the only goalies to win 400 games for the same franchise. He also got to 400 wins faster than any other goaltender, taking only 727 games.  Lundqvist was named the first star of the game for his 32 save performance.

Good-bye Atlanta

In 2011, the Rangers played their last game in the city of Atlanta, losing to the Thrashers 3-2. The Thrashers won on two third period goals by Evander Kane.  The last Ranger to score in Georgia was Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik missed on a penalty shot in the third period.

The Rangers played 22 games at the Philips Arena (now the State Farm Arena), with a record of 12-6-4.   That arena replaced the Omni, the home of the Atlanta Flames.  Considering that the NHL has tried hockey in Georgia twice with no success, it’s doubtful that we will ever see a team based in Atlanta in the future

Today’s birthdays

31 NHL players have been born on February 11 including one current Blueshirt and one of hockey’s greatest characters.

Ryan Lindgren was born on this date in 1998 in Burnsville, Minnesota.  Now in his second year with the team, he was traded to the Rangers by the Bruins in 2018 in the Rick Nash deal. He has become the steady partner for Adam Fox on the top defense pair on the current team.

Left winger Eddie Shack was born on this date in 1937 in Sudbury, ,Ontario.  He played only two seasons in New York before being traded to Toronto for Pat Hannigan and Johnny Wilson.  It turned out to be a pretty bad deal for the Rangers as Shack went on to play 15 more years in the NHL for five different teams, winning four Stanley Cups with the Maple Leafs.

He was one of the most popular Leafs ever, nicknamed “The Entertainer” as an agitator on the third line for Toronto.  Just another bad trade for the New York Rangers.

Ulf Sterner was born on this date in 1941 in Deje, Sweden.  Although he played only four games in 1965 for the Rangers, his only games in the NHL, the left winger made history as the first European trained player to skate in the NHL.   He was scoreless in those four games and returned to Sweden after his brief sojourn in North America.

Andre Dore was a defenseman born in 1958 on February 11. A native of Montreal, Quebec, Dore was a Rangers fourth round draft pick in 1978 and he played parts of five seasons in New York. He was traded to the Blues for Vaclav Nedomansky and Glen Hanlon in 1983.  He was claimed on waivers in 1984 from Quebec and ended his career back with the Blueshirts in 1984-85.

Steve Nemeth was a center who was born on this date in 1967 in Calgary, Alberta.  A 10th round draft pick, it’s a miracle he even made it to the NHL for 12 games in 1987-88.  His size (5’8″, 170 lbs.) was his biggest issue although he had been a big scorer in the WHL.   Nemeth eventually made his way to Europe where he was one of the biggest scorers in Great Britain, scoring 92 goals and 186 points in 25 games for the Sheffield Steelers in 1991-92.

Jamie Pushor was born on this date in 1973 in Lethbridge, Alberta.  The defenseman played in the NHL for 10 years including seven games with the Rangers in 2004 as a late season pick up.

The numbers

It’s been just under .500 for the Rangers on February 11 in the 35 games played on this date.

Games: 35
Regulation wins: 12
Regulation losses: 15
Ties: 7
Shootout wins: 1
Points percentage: .471

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