What happened on February 25 in New York Rangers history
February 25th was one of the busiest days in New York Rangers history. No less than nine events in team history could be the top story of the day, but we will begin with honoring a Ranger legend.
On this date in 2018, the Rangers paid a long overdue tribute to Jean Ratelle, retiring his #19. He joined teammates Rod Gilbert and Ed Giacomin who were also honored, but decades earlier. Although he was traded to Boston, he was still one of the greatest players in Rangers history and his 1971-72 season, though cut short by a broken ankle, is still one of the greatest ever in franchise history.
Ratelle played 16 seasons in New York and was the first Ranger to score 100 points in a season with 109 points in only 63 games. He would have been the first in franchise history to 50 goals (he finished with 46) and he won the Pearson Award, judged to be the MVP in the NHL by his fellow players.
Above all, he epitomized class and it’s a shame that he never was able to raise the Stanley CUp in New York or Boston.
Setting a record road winning streak
On this date in 2020, the Rangers won their eighth straight road game, setting a franchise record. It was a 4-2 overtime win for the Blueshirts and they came awfully close to losing. The Rangers blew a 3-1 lead as the Islanders tied the score with just 18 seconds left.
In the overtime, Artemi Panarin stole the puck, took it deep into the Islander zone, drawing all three Islanders to him and then he made a brilliant pass to Zibanejad who one-timed the shot past Semyon Varlamov just 29 seconds in.
Alexandar Georgiev made 37 saves in their first game without Igor Shesterkin who had been injured in a car accident two days earlier.
The Rangers would win once more on the road, beating Montreal, before finally dropping a game to the Flyers in Philadelphia. The previous record had been seven road wins set in 1935 and equaled in 1978.
A first on television
On this date in 1940 the Rangers played Montreal at Madison Square Garden, beating the Habs 6-2. What made it an historic event was that this was the first NHL game televised in the United States. The channel was W2XBS and all of 300 television sets in New York City were equipped to get the signal.
W2XBS later became WNBC and is the longest continuously operating television station in the country. They televised the first baseball and football games in 1939 and hockey was the third sport that they tried. Available on channel 1, the game was shot with only one camera
After this experiment, hockey didn’t find permanent home on U.S. television until 1956 when CBS carried NHL games for four years.
The Rangers also made history with that win as it was their 14th straight home win, a new franchise record.
On this date in 1978, Swedish goalie Hardy Astrom made his NHL debut in net for the Rangers when they beat Montreal 6-3 at the Forum. The Rangers’ win ended a 28 game undefeated streak for the Habs, the longest in NHL history. The Canadiens had smashed the NHL record of 23 games set by the 1940-41 Bruins and equaled by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975-76.
Montreal had 23 wins and five ties in the streak, but they only held the record for two years as the Flyers set a new record with a 35 game unbeaten streak in 1979=80.
On February 25, 1948, Don “Bones” Raleigh became the first player in franchise history to score four goals in a game at Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, his four goals were the only goals scored by New York in a 7-4 loss to the Chicago Black Hawks.
On this date in 2012, Henrik Lundqvist became the first NHL goalie to get 30 wins in his first seven seasons. He did it in a 3-2 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. The streak came to an end the next season shortened by a lockout.
A coaching change
In 2004 on this date, Tom Renney was named interim coach of the Rangers, succeeding Glen Sather for the last 20 games of the season. He had been serving as the Director of Player Personnel. After the 2004-05 lockout he was given the job permanently and he led the team to three straight playoff appearances. Despite a 31-23-7 record in 2008-09, he was let go and replaced by John Tortorella.
The purge begins
This was the day before the trade deadline in 2018 and just weeks after sending out “The Letter,” the Rangers began their rebuild in earnest. They had already traded Nick Holden and Michael Grabner, but on this date they traded Rick Nash to the Boston Bruins.
In exchange for Nash, the Rangers got Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey and first and seventh round draft picks. The Rangers used the first round pick to trade up and draft K’Andre Miller. After flipping Spooner for Ryan Strome and will Lindgren and Miller becoming fixtures on the blueline, this could end up being one of the best deals in Rangers history.
39 NHL players were born on February 25. Six were New York Rangers and there was one longtime Rangers front office executive who was also born on this date.
Former Rangers Public Relations Director and VP of Communications, John Halligan was born on February 25 , 1941. A native New Yorker, Halligan spent 40 years working either for the Rangers or the NHL. An author of numerous books about the Rangers, in 2007 he received the prestigious Lester Patrick Award for contributions to hockey. It was an award that Halligan helped to create in 1966.
Anders Hedberg was born on this date in 1951 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Hedberg was a prolific scorer for Winnipeg of the WHA on a line with Bobby Hull and Ulf Nilsson. Hedberg and Nilsson became synonymous when they signed a huge contract with the Rangers in 1978.
In their first season they helped take the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Hedberg played seven years with the Rangers, scoring 172 goals and 397 points in 465 games as one of the first Swedish stars in the NHL.
Troy Mallette was born on this date in 1970 in Sudbury, Ontario. A second round draft pick of the Rangers in 1988, he only played two seasons, but he made his mark in that short time by totaling 557 penalty minutes including a franchise record 305 minutes in 1989-90. The two fisted left winger’s 252 minutes in 1990-91 is the third highest single season total in club history. Perhaps his biggest conribution as a Rangers was the fact that he was awarded to the Edmonton Oilers as compensation for the signing of free agent Adam Graves.
Gary Doak was a defenseman born on this date in 1946 in Goderich, Ontario. He only played 50 games for the Rangers in a 790 game career for four different teams. He spent most of his career with the Bruins, winning a Stanley Cup in 1970.
Connor Brickley was a center born on this date in 1992 in Everett, Massachusetts. He played 14 games for the Rangers in 2019, scoring one goal and four points. When he wasn’t re-signed, Brickley continued his career in Austria.
Ted Taylor was a left winger born on this date in 1942 in Oak Lake, Manitoba. He played eight games in New York over two seasons from 1964-66. Although his NHL scorer didn’t account to much, he did have some success with the Houston Aeros in the WHA.
Clare Martin was a defenseman born on February 25, 1922 in Waterloo, Ontario. He played 15 games in New York in the 1951-52 season in a career that spanned six years and four teams.
The Rangers best day in February is this date as they boast a .695 points percentage, with only eight regulation losses in 41 games.
Regulation wins: 21
Regulation losses: 8
Overtime wins: 3
Overtime losses: 1
Shootout losses: 1
Points percentage: .695