On March 14 in NYR history: Last start for a legend

The retired number of former player Terry Sawchuk #1(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
The retired number of former player Terry Sawchuk #1(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

What happened on March 14 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1970, a legendary hockey goalie made his last regulation start in the NHL and it was for the New York Rangers. Terry Sawchuk got the start in a 7-4 loss to the Chicago Black Hawks on the road and it extended the Rangers’ streak to eight games without a win.

Sawchuk was a rarely used backup that season, but Coach Emile Francis gave him the start over Eddie Giacomin in an effort to change the team’s luck. It didn’t work as he surrendered seven goals.  Sawchuk’s last NHL win had come on February, 1 shutout over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sawchuk’s career ended with 445 career wins and 103 shutouts,at the time, the most by any NHL goalie.

This wasn’t his last start, as he got the nod in one playoff game that spring, a 5-3 loss to the Bruins in the quarterfinals.  Sawchuk died tragically in the off season from the injuries he sustained in a fight with teammate Ron Stewart.  He sustained a liver injury during what he called “horseplay” and he never recovered.

Sawchuk is still second overall in career shutouts, behind Martin Brodeur and is eighth overall in career wins.

A Time Magazine cover

On the cover of the March 14, 1938 edition of Time Magazine there was a familiar face to Ranger fans.  it was goalie Dave Kerr.  He was one of the top NHL players that season and the article was all about the game of hockey.   If you want to read it, click here.

Kerr was one of the greatest Ranger netminders who led the team to the Stanley Cup in 1940.  Highly principled, Kerr retired at age 31,  just one year after winning the Vezina Trophy in 1940 , when he was offered a contract by the Rangers that he felt was an insult.

Two milestones reached, against the Rangers

On this date in 1962, Gordie Howe scored his 500th career goal in a 3-2 Detroit loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.  It came against Gump Worsley and with it, Howe became the second NHL player to reach 500 goals after Maurice Richard.

In 1965 on this date Jean Beliveau scored his 350th career goal for the Canadiens in a 6-4 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.   The elegant Hab captain finished with 507 goals, third all time for Montreal.

Today’s birthdays

Only 19 NHL players have been born on March 14.  One is a former Ranger in the Hall of Fame and the other is a recent member of the Blueshirts .

Vaclav Nedomansky was born on this date in Hodonin, Czechoslovakia.  He finished a six year NHL career playing 25 games with the Rangers in 1983, coming to New York in a trade with the Blues.  While he didn’t have a long career in the NHL, he is best known as the first player to defect from behind the Iron Curtain to play in North American in 1974.   The right winger had been named the top player that year at the World Championships in Finland, so his defection was big news.  He starred for Toronto in the WHA before coming over to the NHL.  He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 2019.

J.T. Miller was born on March 14, 1993 in East Palantine, Ohio.  Drafted 15th overall by the Rangers in 2011, he played five years for the Rangers before going to Tampa in the big deadline deal in 2018.  A physical forward, Miller was a decent goal scorer, best known for his overtime game winner in the 2018 Winter Classic over the Buffalo Sabres.  He was traded to Vancouver by Tampa and is one of the Canucks’ top forwards and a frequent subject of trade rumors about a possible return to New York.

The numbers

For the Rangers, the saying should be “Beware the day before the Ides of March” as March 14 has not been a good day for them.  They’ve played 43 games on this date and have only 12 regulation wins.  Their only saving grace is a 4-0 record in overtime decisions.

Games: 43
Regulation wins: 12
Regulation losses: 23
Ties: 4
Overtime wins: 4
Points percentage: .419

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