On March 13 in NYR history: The Blueshirts break the color barrier

NY Rangers (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NY Rangers (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

What happened on March 13 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1948, the New York Rangers broke the color barrier in the NHL when Chinese-Canadian Larry Kwong played one shift for the Blueshirts. Known as the “China Clipper” for his speed, the Rangers signed him in 1946 to play for their  Rovers farm team, a team that played at Madison Square Garden.

In 1948, in one of the last games of the season he traveled with the team to Montreal. Coach Frank Boucher finally put him in for one shift in the third period.  He played for a minute and completed a pass, but did not score and never played another second in the NHL.

Believing that he would never get a shot in the NHL, he finished his career in the Quebec Senior Hockey League where he battled Jean Beliveau for the scoring title one year.

Although Willie O’Ree gets a lot of attention as the first black player in the NHL, it was Larry Kwong who broke the color barrier and he did it for the Rangers.

Penalty shot number two

Pavel Bure was one of the great goal scorers and is on the long list of great players who joined the New York Rangers too late in their careers. While he was only 30 when traded to the Rangers from Florida, he had bad knees and was a risk.  Still a gifted scored, Bure did make some waves with the Blueshirts.

On this date in 2003, Pavel Bure scored on a penalty shot, the second time he had done so in the same season.  With that he became the only player in club history to score twice in the same season on penalty shots and he joined Alex Shibicky as the only Rangers to score twice on penalty shots.   11 Rangers have taken more than one penalty shot and only those two scored twice.

Bure was awarded an amazing 12 penalty shots in his career and scored seven times and was two for two in his brief time in New York.  The Rangers have taken 84 penalty shots in their history and have scored 31 times.  Of the current Blueshirts, Chris Kreider and Julien Gauthier have taken penalty shots, both  not scoring.  In fact, Kreider is tied for the franchise lead with four missed penalty shots. He joined Marian Gaborik and Shibicky lead last April and he and Gaborik missed all four while Shibicky scored twice.

As for Bure, he played on 51 games for the Rangers, before a kneed injury forced him to retire at age 31.  He scored 31 goals and registered 50 points.   A five-time 50 goal scorer, two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner, all Ranger fans can wonder is “what if?”

Four power play goals in one game

On this date in 1954, Camille Henry did something no NHL player had done. He scored four power play goals in one game for the Rangers in a 5-2 win in Detroit.  The NHL started keeping records of power play goals in the 1933-34 season and Henry was the first to score four times.

It’s a record that has been tied, but never surpassed.   The last player to do it was Scott Mellanby of the St. Louis Blues in 2003.  Five Rangers have scored three power play goals in a game, the most recent being Mika Zibanejad last March against the Flyers.

Today’s birthdays

24 NHL players have been born on March 13.  Four of them skated for the New York Rangers.

Blaine Stoughton was born on this date in 1953 in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba.  If you want to find the story of a player who lost his scoring touch when he became a Ranger, Blaine Stoughton is the perfect example.  After a successful career in the WHA, he played 357 games for the Hartford Whalers when the join the NHL, scoring 219 goals.  In a four year period he scored 56, 43, 52 and 45 goals for the Whalers.  He was traded to the Rangers in February 1984 and played 14 games, scoring five goals.    The team realized he was a defensive liability and they didn’t use him in the playoffs.

The following fall he showed up out of shape  and he didn’t even make the team and was sent to New Haven of the AHL and never made it back to the NHL, finishing his career in Italy.

Maxim Galanov was born on this date in 1974 in  Krasnoyarsk, USSR.  The defenseman was a third round draft pick in 1993 and made it to the Rangers in the 1997-98 season for six games.  He was claimed on waivers by Pittsburgh and played three more seasons in the NHL for three team. He had a long career in the Russian pro leagues after leaving North America.

Ivan Irwin was born on this date in 1937 in Chicago, Illinois. A defenseman, he played three full seasons in New York from 1953 to 1958. He played 151 games as a Ranger and four games with Montreal.

Brad Smyth was born on March 13, 1973 in Ottawa, Ontario.  He played  88 games in the NHL for five different teams including five games with the Rangers in two separate stints in New York. The right wing scored one goal in New York.

The numbers

The Rangers have played 33 games on March 13. They’ve only won ten games on this date.

Games: 33
Regulation wins: 10
Regulation losses: 16
Ties: 5
Overtime losses: 2
Points percentage: .409

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