What happened on February 17 in the history of the New York Rangers
On this date in 1960 a man named Joe Schaefer played goal for the New York Rangers. It was the first of two appearances for him and what made it unusual is that he was the 35-year-old team statistician who was forced into uniform by an injury.
Gump Worsley tore tendons in his hand when Bobby Hull’s skate sliced through his glove. The accident happened in the first minute of the second period with the Rangers ahead of the Black Hawks 1-0. With no backup goalies, each team had a designated replacement and for the Rangers, it was Joe Schaefer.
At 5’8″ tall and 200 pounds, Schaefer didn’t have the build of an NHL player and he gave up five goals as the Rangers lost 5-1. He played 39:38 and registered a save percentage of .773, stopping 17 of 22 shots.
Schaefer would be forced into one more game a year later. Incidentally, his opposing netminder was future Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall. Schaefer was paid $100 for his troubles. Most recently, Zamboni driver David Ayres played goal for the Hurricanes and won the game. He was paid $500.
A record setting day
There were several franchise scoring records set on February 17. In 1972, Jean Ratelle had two assists in a 6-4 road win over the Los Angeles Kings. With the two assists, he set a franchise record for multi-assist games in one season, his 18th of the season. That record was later tied by Mark Messier and Brian Leetch. Ratelle would have improved on that total if he had not broken his ankle on March 1.
In 1989 Brian Leetch got five points in one game in a 10-6 win over the Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden. At age 20 years, 31 days, he became the youngest Rangers defenseman to achieve that feat. Don Murdoch had set the franchise record with five goals in 1976 when he was 19 years, 353 days old.
On this date in 1996, Mark Messier scored two goals in a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. That was his 13th multi-goal game of the season, setting a new franchise record. He broke Jean Ratelle’s record of 11, set in 1971-72.
30 NHL players were born on February 17. Seven former Rangers are in that group along with one current Blueshirt and a potential future Ranger.
In 1998 on this date, defenseman Adam Fox was born in Jericho, New York. The Long Island native is in his third season with the Rangers after coming to the team in a trade with Carolina. The lifelong Ranger fan is fast establishing himself as one of the best young defensemen in the NHL, winner of the Norris Trophy in 2021.
Rangers prospect Simon Kjellberg was born on this date in 2000 in Nashville, Tennessee. He is Swedish, but was born in Nashville because his father, winger Patric Kjellberg, was playing for the Nashville Predators. Kjellberg is a defenseman who is in his third year at RPI, ,though he didn’t play any games in 2020-21 due to the pandemic.. He was a sixth round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Hall of Famer left winger Luc Robitaille was born on this date in 1966 in Montreal, Quebec. One of the top scorers in NHL history, he topped the 40 goal mark for eight straight years with the Los Angeles Kings. He was traded to the Rangers in 1995 and in two seasons in New York, he never reached the scoring heights he had achieved earlier in his career, maxing out at 24 goals. Of course, he returned to L.A. and had four seasons of 30 goals or more. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Lindy Ruff was born on this date in 1960 in Warburg, Alberta. Ruff played defense for the New York Rangers for two seasons and retired after finishing his career in the minor leagues. He had been a favorite playing for the Sabres for 10 years including one season when he scored 20 goals. He returned to New York as an assistant coach under Alain Vigneault and David Quinn.He is now head coach of the New Jersey Devils.
Todd Harvey was a crowd favorite who was born in 1975 in Hamilton, Ontario. Traded to the Rangers in 1998, he played parts of two seasons in New York before his trade to San Jose for Radek Dvorak. He was best known for his extra effort and was nicknamed “Heartbeat” Harvey.
Vinny Prospal was a Czech center who was born on this date in 1975 in Ceske Budejovice, Czechoslovakia. Prospal played two seasons in New York, joining the team at age 34. He scored 20 goals in his first season, but missed most of this second year in New York after knee surgery.
Nathan LaFayette was a center who played 17 games over two seasons for the Rangers. He was born on this date in 1973 in New Westminster, British Columbia. He is best remembered by Ranger fans for hitting a post in the closing minutes of Game Seven of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final when he was with the Canucks. In 1996 he was traded to Los Angeles in one of the worst deals in Blueshirts history. The ten goals he scored in 94 games for the Kings over four years was nine more than the number of goals scored by the three players the Rangers got (Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley, Shane Churla). Let’s not even talk about what Ray Ferraro, Mattias Norstrom and Ian Lapierriere scored for the Kings.
Brodie Dupont was born on this date in 1987 in Russell, Manitoba. Drafted by the Rangers in 2005, the defenseman made it to the NHL for one game as a Ranger in 2011. He did have a few decent AHL seasons and he finished his career playing in Italy.
Jean-Yves Roy was born on this date in 1969 in Longueuil, Quebec. He was a right winger who played three games in 1992 after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine. He scored one goal before he was traded to Ottawa in 1995 after two AHL seasons.
The Rangers have a decent record in their 40 games on February 17. They are under .500 in regulation, but are 3-1 in overtime and shootout games.
Regulation wins: 16
Regulation losses: 18
Overtime wins: 2
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout wins: 1
Points percentage: .512