What happened on April 3 in the history of the New York Rangers
On this date in 2013, the New York Rangers made a trade that would have consequences for many years to come. Due to the lockout, there was a late trade deadline and two hours before the deadline on April 3 the Rangers traded Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a sixth round draft pick.
In making the trade, Glen Sather granted John Tortorella’s wish and exiled one of the most gifted scorers to ever wear the Ranger jersey. Gaborik twice scored 40 goals in his three full seasons in New York and is sixth all time in franchise history, averaging 0.45 goals per game.
Tortorella was convinced that Gaborik would never be a winner in New York and wanted him off the team, hence the trade. He had called him out for his effort in the 2012 playoffs when it was later revealed that Gaborik was playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
How did it work out? Good and bad.
The good was that the three players acquired were key pieces of the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. Brassard proved to be a clutch playoff performer for three years in New York. Dorsett was injured at the time of the trade and didn’t play that season, but proved to be a valuable fourth liner the next season. Moore was a regular on the blue line for the Rangers 2013-14 and was part of the package sent to Arizona for Keith Yandle.
Finally, in what was probably the best outcome of this trade was that Brassard was swapped to Ottawa in the summer of 2016 for Mika Zibanejad and a second round pick. The draft pick was used to acquire Brendan Smith and we all know what happened with Zibanejad.
The bad? Gaborik played all of 34 games in Columbus in an injury-ridden season before they traded him to Los Angeles at the trade deadline in 2014. He went on to score 14 goals and 22 points in 26 games in the playoffs including two third period tying goals against the Rangers in the Final that led to overtime wins for the Kings.
It can take years for trades to be evaluated and this one is still up in the air. The fact is that the Rangers got a lot out of this deal and Zibanejad is a star in New York, but Gaborik not only won a Stanley Cup in Los Angeles, but played a huge role in preventing the Rangers from winning it.
A playoff goal explosion
On this date in 1940, the Rangers scored six goals in a playoff game for the first time in their history. They beat Toronto 6-2 at Madison Square Garden, roaring back from a 0-2 deficit to win , led by a hat trick by Bryan Hextall.
It was only the second playoff hat trick by a Blueshirt and the first one scored at the Garden. It gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final and New York would go on to win their third Cup in six games.
As for the number of goals, it would take 35 years for the Rangers to score more than six goals in a playoff game. They finally broke through in 1975 when they beat the Islanders 8-3. That’s the game that no one remembers because of the J.P. Parise overtime goal the next game. The most goals ever scored in a playoff game was a 10-3 win over Los Angeles in 1981.
An ugly episode
On this date in 2020 an attempt to engage fans with a newly signed prospect turned ugly. The Rangers set up a live Zoom call with fans so they could interact with K’Andre Miller, who had just signed his pro contract. During the live chat, someone hijacked it and posted a racial slur hundreds of times. Miller ignored it and continued to answer questions from fans.
The Rangers issued a statement condemning the action and several teammates including Jacob Trouba and Ryan Strome posted messages in support of Miller. The NHL condemned it as “racist, cowardly taunts.” In their statement, the Rangers promised an investigation and there were reports that the FBI was looking into it, but there has been no news about it since the incident.
Several months later, Miller addressed the incident in a tweet. “”I’ve struggled for months to find the words to express my frustration and anger over the Zoom conference call incident when I was to be introduced after signing my NHL contract. It’s something that I won’t ever forget…You can only imagine how it felt to have an organization like the New York Rangers draft me, the hockey player. For that one moment in time I didn’t have to be defined by the color of my skin but rather on my hockey skills, athletic ability and character. This is how it should be all the time. It’s time for action, time for change and once and for all, it’s time to let black people be judged based on who we are not what we look like.”
24 NHL players have been born on April 3 with two former Rangers players and one coach.
John Muckler was born on this date in 1934 in Midland, Ontario. He played 13 years in the minor leagues as a defenseman, but made his name as a coach. He won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1990 and was hired to coach the Rangers during the 1997-98 season, replacing Colin Campbell, but missed the playoffs.
He coached the Rangers for two more years, both non-playoff seasons and was fired near the end of the 1999-2000 season when the Madison Square Garden Company canned Muckler and GM Neil Smith and hired Glen Sather.
Bob Chrystal was a defenseman, born on April 3, 1930 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He made it to the NHL for two seasons with the Rangers from 1953-55. He spent most of his career in the minor leagues with the WHL and AHL.
Billy Dea was born on this date in 1933 in Edmonton, Alberta. He was a left winger who played 14 games in New York in the first year of a seven year NHL career. He tallied one goal and one assist in those games before being traded to Detroit.
The Rangers are dead even .500 on April 3 helped by two ties in regular season games and a stellar 7-2 record in the playoffs.
Regulation wins: 8
Regulation losses: 9
Overtime wins: 1
Shootout wins: 1
Shootout losses: 2
Points percentage: .500
Playoffs games: 7
Winning percentage: 71%