February 19 in NYR history: A milestone for the great Rod Gilbert

Rod Gilbert #7 of the New York Rangers skates on the ice during an NHL game against the California Golden Seals . (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
Rod Gilbert #7 of the New York Rangers skates on the ice during an NHL game against the California Golden Seals . (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images) /

What happened on February 19 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1977, Rod Gilbert scored a goal and added an assist and be became the first player to reach 1,000 points for the New York Rangers.   The milestone was tempered by the fact that the Rangers lost to the Islanders 5-2 at Nassau  Coliseum.

Gilbert remains the only New York Ranger to reach the 1,000 point mark, retiring with a total of 1,021.   That total puts him 86th overall in NHL history.   He is one of 44 players who accomplished the feat with one team. At the time, he was fifth among players who did it one team, behind Stan Mikita, Alex Delvecchio, Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard.  That’s pretty exalted company.

The great shame of the purge of 2004 was that Brian Leetch was traded when he had scored 981 points as a Ranger.  He scored an additional 47 points for Toronto and Boston, finishing with 1,028 points.  He should have the chance to be the Rangers’ record holder or at least reach the 1,000 point mark.

A ugly loss in Montreal

On this date in 2008, the Rangers blew a five goal lead and lost in a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens at the Forum.  It’s a game that Ranger fans won’t forget as the Blueshirts jumped out to a 5-0 lead just five minutes into the second period led by two goals by Chris Drury.

The Canadiens began their comeback just three minutes later with a goal by Michael Ryder.  To add insult to injury, it was two goals by Alex Kovalev that got the Canadiens back into the game including the tying goal with under five minutes left in the game.

Henrik Lundqvist was in goal for the Rangers and Carey Price had been chased from the Canadiens’ goal after giving up three goals on 11 shots.  In the shootout, Saku Koivu was the only player to score and with the win the Canadiens tied a franchise record for coming back from the most goals in their history.

An injury to Richter

On February 19, 2001, Mike Richter suffered a debilitating injury in a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden.  He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when he banged the knee into the post while making a save in the first period.  This was one year after he tore the same ligament in the left knee on the same kind of play.

Richter had to undergo reconstructive surgery and was done for the season.  The injury doomed the playoff hopes for the team. Six point out of the playoffs at that point, they finished 16 points out winning only eight of their last 23 games.

Though Richter helped the United States to a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Games, he later suffered concussions and a fractured skull and was forced to retire.

A new coach

On this date in 1998, the Rangers announced the hiring of John Muckler as their head coach, succeeeding Colin Campbell who had been fired the day before.   Muckler coached the remaining 25 games that season and for two more seasons, missing the playoffs each year.  He had won a Stanley Cup with the Oilers in 1990 and General Manager Neil Smith hoped to recreate the magic after he had signed Wayne Gretzky.  It didn’t work and both Muckler and Smith were fired on the same day at the end of the 1999-2000 season.

Today’s birthdays

26 NHL players have been born on February 19 including four New York Rangers, without a household name among them.

Jeff Taffe was a center, born on this date in 1981 in Hastings,  Minnesota. He played 180 games in nine seasons in the NHL including a two game stop in New York in 2005.  His acquisition put an end to one of the greatest draft failures in franchise history as he was traded to the Rangers from Phoenix for Jamie Lundmark.  Lundmark and Pavel Brendl had been two top picks in the 1999 draft and they were both busts.

Rob DiMaio was a right winger who was born on this date in 1968 in Calgary, Alberta. He made his debut with the Islanders in 1988 and played 17 years in the NHL as a utility forward. He was acquired at the trade deadline in 2000 for Mike Knuble and after 12 games with the Rangers, they traded him to Carolina over the summer.

Kris Newbury was born on February 19, 1982 in Brampton, Ontario.  He spent three years in the Rangers organization, mostly in the AHL, but the center did see action in 24 games for New York, notching two assists.

Russell Oatman was a left winger born on this date in 1905 in Tilsonburg, Ontario.  He played for the Rangers in the 1928-29 season, scoring one goal and two points.  The Rangers had acquired him from the Montreal Maroons for cash and they sold his rights to the minor league Hamilton Tigers. His career came to an end in a car accident in 1930 when he broke his leg.

The numbers

The Rangers have had some success on this date, with 18 wins in 40 games against 13 regulation losses.

Games: 40
Regulation wins: 16
Regulation losses: 13
Ties: 6
Overtime wins: 2
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout losses: 2
Points percentage: .562

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