Born with orange and black blood, I despised the Rangers, Pens, and Caps, and their fans are even worse. Going to college with the nasally, whiny accented fans was enough to strain any friendship. So straight up, this article caused me anxiety. Focusing on a team and players you would rather forget tempts every last nerve in a die hard fan.
But as a professional, I had to leave all that in the past, and yet return to it to find some of the (few) objectively great players, the (many) that infuriated me, or the ones with great names or stories. What surprised me most is many Ranger players and coaches shared a link to the Flyers, how so many dedicated Ranger players were jettisoned for nobody a year before that black day in the Summer 0f 1994, and how many New Yorkers actually played for the Rangers.
But looking through the Blueshirts' past, I must also admit there are only two Rangers I wished were Flyers, Adam Graves and Brian Leetch. However, they aren't on this list because they're hardly forgotten and have rode off into the hockey sunset of fishing and being an "ambassador." I remembered one of the greatest plays I ever saw, where Leetch skated end to end, eluded every Flyer, and scored. Any hockey fan must also admire how Graves played the game and his determination to win.
The Rangers were named after "Tex" Rickard from Kansas City, who brought the name over from the mid-west. They have won two Cups over the last 77 years, but over their long history as being one of the original 6, they have created quite a mixed history of trades, great draft years, and poor ones. They have sold millions of jerseys, but I doubt they sold many of Lindros or Tim Kerr. I'm pretty sure the names and numbers of the following players can be seen on the backs of Ranger fans on Broadway.
15 John Vanbiesbrouck
I loved Beezer's game. He was spot on with his angles, and extraordinarily agile and quick. Facing him in the playoffs was always scary and the phrase, " a goalie can steal you a series," was invented by watching him. In the 1986 playoffs, Vanbiesbrouck was just a rookie and stunned the hockey world as he was brilliant in net as they beat the Patrick Division champs, the Flyers, in 5 games. As a member of the Panthers, he was equally unbeatable as Florida and Beezer beat the Flyers in the playoffs in 1996. As a Flyer, his playoff performances were unreal, and he once lost a series for the Flyers with a 1.46 goals against average. After he retired, he was the coach and GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds but was fired after using a racial slur to Trevor Daley.
In 2013, Vanbiesbrouck was named the GM of the United States Hockey League's Muskegon Lumberjacks. Throughout his later playing days and retirement, he started the Vanbiesbrouck Foundation for children with Attention Deficit Disorder but it later turned into an information service. However, he is also the celebrity sponsor of a golf event in support of The Alan T. Brown Foundation to Cure Paralysis.
14 Brian Mullen
All Ranger and hockey fans love this story. Mullen grew up in Hell's Kitchen, N.Y, and he and his brother Joey, played roller hockey in the streets as kids. They were also stick boys for the Rangers and played for a junior team coached by Ranger head coach, Emile Francis. Then, a dream came true when he played for the Rangers from 1987-1991, scoring 248 points, in 307 games. It must have hurt Ranger fans that he finished his career and retired and Islander. A NEW YORK ISLANDER! Life threw Mullen a nasty curve in 1993, when he suffered a stroke that effected his motor skills and required open heart surgery. Mullen then had a seizure and had no other choice but to retire.
He worked for the NHL front office for eight years, as a radio color analyst for the Rangers, and currently coaches youth hockey with the Protec Ducks of the New Jersey Youth Hockey League.
13 Tomas Sandström
Thomas was a classic villain, haunted many teams and players throughout his career, and many teams and players sought revenge. He was selected with the 36th pick in 1982 by the New York Rangers, and played for 20 years with 5 different teams, including the rival Pens. Though many considered him a power forward, the compliment is far from reality. He was a first class agitator who rarely protected himself and was on the receiving end of more punishment than he dished out. Glenn Anderson punched and broke his cheekbone in 1990, he fractured his leg in 1991 after colliding with the Oilers' Craig Muni, Doug Gilmour slashed and fractured his forearm, and Dave Brown of the Flyers leveled the net crashing but not glove dropping Swede with an "unintentional" cross check to the neck. In a whopping 6 years with the Rangers, only twice did he average more than a point per game, but he was a fan favorite for his ability to infuriate opponents. Today, Sandström's work finally backs up his tough guy image as he is a firefighter in Sweden.
12 James Patrick
James Patrick, the 9th overall selection in 1981, was a solid defenseman in every aspect of the game and a great Ranger. He also has a Philly connection because he scored his first NHL goal in 1984, against the Flyers. He played a devoted 10 years on Broadway and netted a career high 71 points in the 91-92 season. After playing his guts out for a mediocre decade in Ranger history, he was unceremoniously traded to Hartford a year before they'd win the cup. After he retired, he joined the Sabres as an assistant in 2006, and in 2013 he re-joined Lindy Ruff with the Dallas Stars. At the end of the 2016-17 season, Patrick and Ruff were fired when the Stars missed the playoffs. He is currently not in hockey, but as the offseason shakes out he'll hopefully land somewhere.
11 Kelly Kisio
Kelly Kisio had one of those names that the moment a hockey fan hears it they say "Whatever happened to him." He only played 5 years with the Rangers, but the undrafted center played a quick, sneaky, and feisty game. He captained the Rangers for three and a half years before being traded to San Jose. After he retired, he became a scout for the Calgary Flames and later was named the GM of the Calgary Hitmen. With him as GM, the Hitmen made the playoffs 17 out of 18 years, won four regular season titles, and won the Western Hockey League championship in 1999 and 2010. He has now left Calgary for a return to the NHL and was hired by the Vegas Golden Knights as a scout. He's been successful, and seems fit to GM a NHL club in the future.
10 Barry Beck
In one of the greatest trades in Rangers history, they acquired Barry Beck, the 2nd overall pick in the 1977 draft by the Colorado Rockies, for, well, nothing. The monstrous and mean defenseman had very good offensive talent as he scored double digit goals in 5 of his 11 seasons, and averaged a half a point per game in 8 seasons. He was also quite used to the box as he was nasty to play against and stood up for his much smaller teammates. As a Ranger, Beck was implored to shoot more and of the many chants that sounded from the fans, "Shoot the puck, Barry," was as well known as any. One would probably think the 69-year-old would be with the Rangers in some capacity, involved in the AHL, or wrestling bears in his hometown of Vancouver, but Beck lives and coaches in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey.
9 Jeff Beukeboom
The big, tough defenseman was acquired with Mark Messier in a deal that would change history for the Rangers. He paired with Leetch and was loved by the fans as he'd hit or fight and police the ice for the Blueshirts. He had some great rivalries and match ups with Eric Lindros, and like many players was a generous, giving man. He participated in "Hockey for Harlem" and won the Rangers' Crumb Bum Award, given for dedication to local youngsters. But Beukeboom's style of play lead to post concussion syndrome which would ultimately end his career, and he tried his hand at coaching in the AHL. He'd later become the president and part owner of the Jr. A Lindsay Muskies, and then an assistant in the OHL for the Barrie Colts. His hard work as a player continued to follow him through various stops in the minors until 2016, when he returned home and was hired as an assistant by the Rangers.
8 Chris Drury
Most hockey and sports fans are familiar with Drury, the Connecticut born boy who pitched a 5 hitter, complete game, and had 2 runs batted in as his home town little league team beat Chinese Taipei to win the 1989 Little League World Series. He also won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and then joined the Rangers. The hard working, all purpose player, then became the 25th Captain for the Blueshirts. Drury continued his steady success as a Ranger, but retired in 2011. In 2015, the Rangers named Drury their Director of Player Development, and a year later he was promoted by the Rangers to Assistant General Manager. Drury had a way of making fans think he only played for them through his dedication to the game and his teammates.
7 Tony Granato
Tony had a short but sweet career as a Ranger. Granato made an immediate impact as a rookie with the Rangers during the 1988-89 season, when he scored and set a team record for a rookie with 36 goals. The following season, the Rangers traded the feisty speedster in a package for Bernie Nicholls. This deal was thought of as a game changer by the Rangers, but really was inconsequential for them and helped the Kings reach the 1993 Stanley Cup.
After he retired, he was hired as an assistant coach for Detroit, Pittsburgh, and has an assistant and head coach for Colorado. Today, Granato is the head coach for the Wisconsin Badgers men's ice hockey team, where he also attended and played college hockey.
6 Ron Duguay
The 13th overall pick in the 1977 draft by the Rangers has played for three other NHL teams but noone will deny he is only and always a Ranger. Known for his skating and long, flowing hair, he was kind of like a Bee Gee playing pro hockey. He was never a dominant NHL player, but he scored 40 goals once for New York and 30 twice for Detroit. But Duguay always had flair, and was known to party at Studio 54 in NYC. After he retired, he was an analyst for the Rangers, and in 2009 he played games for the Brooklyn Aces and Jersey Rockhoppers to raise money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation. He also skated in the reality television show "The Battle of The Blades," and played in the 2o12 Winter Classic Alumni Game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park. He had a breakaway against Flyer and NHL legend Bernie Parent, and though they say he went easy on the 65-year-old, Bernie, in his classic stand up style, stoned him.
5 Mike Gartner
Mike Gartner only spent five seasons in New York, but he scored 49, 45, 40, 28, and 11 goals (in 12 games). The speedy sniper was acquired from the Minnesota North Stars, and in his first game for the Rangers he scored two goals versus the... Philadelphia Flyers. He scored over 4 goals 8 times and was dominant everywhere he played. Gartner never one a Stanley Cup, and like many Ranger greats was traded one year before they eventually did. Poor guy. Today, Gartner is a born again Christian and with a former teammate, Wes Jarvis, he owns three rinks in Toronto. Gartner was a consistent goalscorer throughout his career but due to playing in an era flooded with superstars he's often overlooked at being one of the all-time greats.
4 Alexei Kovalev
The Rangers drafted Kovalev with the 15th pick in 1991, and though his best scoring years were with Pittsburgh, he did win the Cup with the Rangers. He was the first Russian drafted in the 1st round, and he had an up and down career where he showed flashes of greatness with his elusiveness, speed, and shot, but was often considered an underachiever because he was so inconsistent and a defensive liability. Toward the end of his career, he bounced around between the Penguins, Senators, and Panthers. In 2008, Kovalev released hockey tips and training DVDs where he donated ALL profits to charities involved with the cardiac care of children.
As of now, he has publicly stated he could pull a Jaromir Jagr and still play in the NHL, but has signed with the Swiss National League B as the general manager. But if an NHL team were to call, and maybe it would be the Rangers, he might fly back to the U.S in his own plane because he is a licensed pilot.
3 Darren Turcotte
The speedy and skilled Turcotte burst onto the scene with the Rangers and had an excellent first five years before being traded, once again, just a season before they won it all. Injuries began to haunt the late round pick and he retired with the Nashville Predators in 2000. He made Nashville home for a while and founded the Southern Ice Lightning AAA Midget traveling team. He later coached Team USA's inline hockey team that won gold at the World Inline Tournament, and then he returned home to Ontario.
He was hired as an assistant coach for his hometown Nipissing University Women's hockey team. In 2012, when Nipissing gained a women's ice hockey team, Darren became the head coach and still is today. He also runs hockey camps in North Bay.
2 Sergei Zubov
In 1990, the Rangers drafted Zubov with the 85th pick, and he would help them and the Dallas Stars win Stanley Cups as he would become a premiere offensive defenseman. He only played three years on Broadway but still was named the 72nd best all time Ranger in scoring. In the 1993-94 season, he had 89 points for New York, and in their Cup winning year he had 36 points in 38 games. In 2009, he decided to leave the NHL as he signed a contract with SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL. He was also selected as a reserve by Team Russia for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but a year later he officially retired due to hip injuries. However, he was named to the coaching staff, as an assistant, to the Russian national team.
1 Nick Fotiu
The 6-foot-2, 210 pound winger is another New York born player to play for the Rangers. He was born in Staten Island and was tough, mean, and stood up for his teammates. He played for 4 other teams over 17 years, one of which was those Philadelphia Flyers. He retired in 1990, and began coaching for the Hartford Wolfpack.
Currently, Fotiu runs a successful construction business and a charitable foundation, in addition to doing public relations for the Rangers.
His charity involves Toys for Tots at the Garden and the Police Athletic League. Just like his presence was always felt on the ice, he never turns down a chance to make his presence felt where he can help or bring awareness to a cause.