What happened on April 27 in the history of the New York Rangers
On this date in 1987, Tom Webster made it official, he was resigning as head coach of the New York Rangers. In doing so, he ended a tumultuous year that has to go into the record books as the coaching gig most filled with misfortune in the history of the Rangers, if not the NHL.
Webster had been named head coach 19 games into the season, when General Manager Phil Esposito fired Ted Sator. After just five games as coach, he was diagnosed with an inner ear ailment that made it impossible for him to fly. He underwent surgery on his ear in December, leaving the coaching duties to assistants Ed Giacomin and Wayne Cashman.
After the surgery , he could travel, but not by air so Esposito along with Giacomin and Cashman, split the road coaching duties with Webster coaching the home games. He was finally able to join the team on the road and coached two games in Los Angeles and Vancouver before falling ill again. He took a train back to New York and Esposito took over coaching duties full time for the rest of the season.
Webster, 38, ended up coaching the team for only 16 games with a 5-7-4 record. He was later able to become coach of the Los Angeles Kings for three seasons without any ear issues.
Webster’s inability to stay healthy meant that Esposito was in the hunt for a new coach and it went from bad to worse when he hired Michel Bergeron from Quebec, at the cost of a first round draft pick. Bergeron had no health issues, but lasted less than two seasons.
The Rangers pick #1 overall
On this date in 1965, the Rangers had the first pick in the NHL Amateur Draft. It was their chance to get the cream of the crop, the best unsponsored or undrafted young hockey player in the world. With the pick the Rangers selected…Andres Veilleiux.
Who? Andre Veilleux was a right wing for the Montreal Rangers and despite being the first pick, he never played professional hockey. Why? In 1965 it was called the NHL Amateur Draft and the rules were very, very different. For the first time, players had to be 18 years old to be eligible, instead of 16. After the NHL teams made their picks, the AHL, WHL and CHL were allowed to select any remaining players.
Because of the change in age eligibility, the best of the young players had already been selected in prior years or were already sponsored. Already gone were future NHLers like Ken Dryden, Pete Mahovlich, Tim Ecclestone, Walt McKechnie, Garry Monahan, Gerry Meehan and Syl Apps.
In fact, the 1965 draft was considered so poor that only 11 players were selected by NHL teams, compared to 24 the year before. It was so bad, the Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t pick anyone. Of course, this would be the year that the Rangers had the first overall pick.
They wouldn’t get a top pick again for 55 years until 2020 when they won the draft lottery and selected Alexis Lafrenière.
27 NHL players were born on April 27 including only two little known Blueshirts.
Jeff Ulmer was born on this date in 1977 in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. His career in the NHL lasted 21 games in 2001 when the right winger made it to the Rangers. He was signed by the Blueshirts out of North Dakota as an undrafted free agent. He scored three goals in those 21 games and spent the rest of his career in Europe.
Vern Ayres was defenseman born on this date in 1909 in Toronto, Ontario. He had a six year NHL career, ending it with 28 games with the Rangers in 1935-36. He also played for the New York Americans, the Montreal Maroons and the St. Louis Eagles.
The Rangers have won both of their regular season games played on April 27 including a 3-1 win over the Sabres last season. In the playoffs they have won three and lost five games with the most notable game a 3-2 overtime loss to the Black Hawks in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. It gave Chicago a 3-2 lead in that series.
Playoffs games: 8
Overtime losses: 2
Winning percentage: 38%
Regular season games: 2
Regulation wins: 2
Regulation losses: 0
Points percentage: 1.000