Established in 1926, the Big Apple's NHL franchise has generated a storied past and a timeline that entails all-time great hockey players donning that of a New York Rangers sweater.
Hockey Hall Of Fame players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch are just a few examples of skaters among a list of all-time greats who dressed for the Broadway Blueshirts.
Still, there are plenty of notable mistakes that the Garden faithful can point its finger towards on that same historic timeline and list of forgettable players who once called Madison Square Garden "home." Playing a professional sport and working for a team's front office in the world's biggest market involves tremendous amounts of pressure to not only achieve personal success, but to construct a championship caliber organization too; which can lead to impulsive decisions.
A majority of the mistakes referred to above are in relation to overpaid unrestricted-free-agents and skaters who were acquired undoubtedly out of their prime playing days on the ice. Yet, some New York fans may be able to recall a few players who more than likely couldn't handle that pressure of playing hockey in the city that never sleeps.
Here are the top 15 worst New York Rangers players of all time.
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15 Chris Drury
Sure, there was never a moment NHL or New York fans could question forward Chris Drury's passion for the game of hockey, but sadly his time playing for the New York Rangers was one that could be labeled as underachieving.
Before signing a five-year-contract worth $35.25 million, Drury was one of the most decorative and skilled hockey players the NHL had to offer. The Connecticut native was a leader by example, with both his clutch and timely game-winning goals. Still, it was apparent that his performance level declined once Drury donned a Rangers sweater. His point production decreased and for the first time in his NHL career, he finished three straight seasons with a minus rating. Another Ranger player who was overpaid and out of his prime, plus one who was bought out before his contract was originally set to expire.
14 Tom Poti
Defenseman Tom Poti was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers by the New York Rangers at the 2002 NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for forward Mike York. There was hope that Poti would end up being half as good as Hockey Hall Of Famer Brian Leetch was, but that dream never came true for New York.
While Poti's start to his Ranger playing days were impressive, his final two seasons were dismal to say at the least. After posting a career year with 48 points in 2002-03, the Garden faithful were left with no choice but to turn on its potential next coming of Brian Leetch. Poti's defensive abilities lacked, and his offensive numbers dipped to the point where he recorded only 24 points in 2003-04.
13 Donald Brashear
Every NHL fan remembers the enforcer and forward Donald Brashear, but not everyone may be able to recall that Brashear wore a New York Rangers sweater at one point. The 6-foot-3 fighter was signed in 2009-10 to a two-year-contract, which was worth almost $3 million.
Brashear was not liked by most teams' fan bases around the league during his 16 year NHL career, but was probably disliked the most by the Garden faithful. Brashear had multiple on ice issues with what could have been considered dirty hits on former Rangers players. His chances of winning over the hearts of the New York crowd ended rather quickly in a Rangers uniform too. Brashear played in 36 games, while recording one assist. One of the league's most well known enforcers was then placed on waivers and never skated in the NHL again.
12 Mikael Samuelsson
Yes, believe it or not, forward Mikael Samuelsson was once a New York Ranger. After being drafted by the San Jose Sharks during the fifth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, the Swedish forward was acquired by the New York Rangers in 2001-02.
Samuelsson went onto to only play parts of two seasons with the Broadway Blueshirts, before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins late in the 2002-03 regular season. So why is Samuelsson on this list? Post New York, the Swede established a successful NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings and then the Vancouver Canucks, where the winger served as a role player on numerous Stanley Cup finalist clubs. And, while Samuelsson was a youngster with the Blueshirts, his overall performance and production were disappointing.
11 Dan Girardi
Dan Girardi burst onto the scene as a fan favorite when the defenseman entered the league in 2006-07. The American born d-man went onto have a string of six more good years with the club, which included a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. General manager Glenn Sather later signed his cherished defenseman to six-year contract-extension worth $33 million during the spring of 2014. Did I mention Girardi was already portraying signs of slowing down, and was also 30 years old when he received his gift from Sather?
It seemed that overnight Girardi went from being a respectable d-man and tough to play against, to a player that the Garden faithful wanted zero association with. If it wasn't for the large contract extension, perhaps Girardi wouldn't be on this list, but either way his recent play has him ranked at number 11 for the 15 worst New York Rangers of all-time.
10 Darius Kasparaitis
During the summer of 2002, the New York Rangers inked an arch-nemesis of theirs when the club signed forward Darius Kasparaitis. The Czech Republic native had been an enforcer and grinder for the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins prior to joining the Blueshirts.
While Kasparaitis was more than excited to be back in the Big Apple, his play never lived up to expectations. "Kaspar" had signed a six-year-deal worth $25.5 million, and the contract still leaves fans criticizing former general manager Glenn Sather as one of his worst signings, ever. Kasparaitis was known for bringing an uncanny energy and grit to a team's lineup, while also being a serviceable defenseman. Though, for a majority of of his first season with the club, Kaspar was a minus and his play had noticeably taken a step back.
9 Matt Cullen
Center Matt Cullen was signed by the New York Rangers to a four-year-contract during the 2006 offseason, after the veteran had just won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers and general manager Glen Sather were hoping Cullen could establish an admirable leadership role with the team, and also see an increase in his production on the stat sheet.
Yet, neither of those qualities mentioned above seemed to progress, as the Garden Faithful wasted no time in turning against Cullen donning a Rangers' sweater. After one season with the Broadway Blueshirts, the Hurricanes re-acquired their once beloved center via trade during the 2007 offseason. Cullen continues to play in the NHL today, where he won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. It's still a blur as to why the former draft-pick of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim couldn't figure it out in New York.
8 Valeri Kamensky
Valeri Kamensky had established a solid NHL career while skating for both the Quebec Nordiques and Colorado Avalanche from 1991-1999. However, the Russian born forward was then acquired by the New York Rangers in 1999-00, and Kamensky was clearly not a fit for the Big Apple.
In the one-time Stanley Cup champion's first season with the club he was a minus-13, which was followed up with a minus-18 the following season on Broadway. His point totals had taken a significant decrease in comparison to his previous three seasons with the Avs. His lackadaisical play on both sides of the puck were not appreciated by the die hard New York fan base or team management, as Kamensky quietly left the Rangers after the 2001 regular season.
7 Mike Dunham
After New York Rangers starting netminder Mike Richter was sidelined with a season ending injury during the early stages of the 2002-03 regular season the Rangers acquired goaltender Mike Dunham from the Nashville Predators. The former New Jersey Devils masked man proved to be one of the more positive highlights of the team for the remainder of that season, but Dunham's second season with New York was a different story.
The American born netminder played in 57 games during 2003-04, where Dunham went 16-30-6 while posting a dismal .896 save-percentage. There seemed to always be a hope that Dunham would blossom into an All-Star caliber starting goaltender, especially after departing from Nashville for the Broadway. After the lockout in 2005, Dunham did not return to the Blueshirts and joined the Atlanta Thrashers.
6 Alex Kovalev
Yes, Alex Kovalev is one of the best Russian goal scorers to skate in the NHL, but his two tenures with the New York Rangers are sub-par in comparison to the Russian's play with other clubs such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens.
In Kovalev's first six NHL seasons with the Rangers, the sniper typically averaged around 50 points. Yet, when the original Kovy was traded to the Penguins in exchange for Petr Nedved in 1999, his number noticeably increased. The former first-round draft-pick, 15th overall, never lived up to his All-Star caliber potential while playing in the Big Apple with the Rangers.
Kovalev was even reacquired during the 2003 NHL Trade Deadline, as the Rangers tried to make a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there was no magic that was rekindled between the two sides. Kovalev went onto to record 44 points in 66 games played in 2004, and was later traded to the Montreal Canadiens. The talented winger then posted an 84 point season three years later with Montreal.
5 Jamie Lundmark
In parts of three seasons, while dressing in over 100 games for the New York Rangers, Jamie Lundmark totaled just 30 points with the Rangers. Lundmark was drafted during the first-round and ninth-overall during the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, and after an impressive stint with the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack the Edmonton native quickly flirted with the term "bust" during his rookie NHL season in 2002-03.
It was a dark time already for New York, and Lundmark's failures didn't make matters any easier for the Garden Faithful. Lundmark was an established goal scorer and play-maker at the Junior Hockey levels, which teased Rangers fans' hearts and hopes. Similar to another former Rangers player on this list, Lundmark still managed to play in the NHL for almost a decade. Yet, his high hopes began and quickly ended at Madison Square Garden.
4 Wade Redden
New York Rangers fans always smile and shake their heads when they hear or see the name "Wade Redden," and the grin isn't for a good reason either. Defenseman Wade Redden had a solid career NHL career with the Ottawa Senators prior to being acquired by New York in 2008. And, at the age of 31, Redden's career clearly took a toll for the worse when he donned an Original Six sweater in New York.
Redden arguably took more criticism than any other player to step foot on the Madison Square Garden ice during his two years with the club. A majority of the negativity from fans and media alike was in large part to the six-year contract he had signed during unrestricted-free-agency worth $39 million. As noted above, Redden was run out of town after two years in the Big Apple, and retired two seasons later in 2013.
3 Eric Lindros
A 2016 Hockey Hall Of Fame inductee, Eric Lindros was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the New York Rangers during the 2001 offseason, and it would have seemed that Lindros would turn out to be a productive player for New York -- if he could stay healthy.
After an impressive first season with the Broadway Blueshirts, while recording 73 points in 72 games played, Lindros failed to replicate his success in year two of a four-year contract extension worth $37-plus million. The former Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1995) played in his first injury-free season in 2002-03 with the Rangers, but managed to only post 53 points in 81 games.
The Blueshirts failed to make the playoffs in each of the Toronto native's first two seasons, and Lindros suffered another concussion in 2003-04 causing the center to miss more than half of the regular season. One of the greatest centers to ever lace up skates had a short and disappointing tenure in the city that never sleeps.
2 Bobby Holik
July 1, 2002 marked a day in which New York Rangers fans rejoiced, as former New Jersey Devils center and two-time Stanley Cup champion Bobby Holik crossed the Hudson River to sign a long-term deal with the Broadway Blue Shirts. The days of Holik haunting the Garden faithful appeared to be over...that was until Holik continued to haunt the club by not living up to his five-year contract, which was worth $45 million.
Perhaps it was the burden of the long-term deal, or the pressure of playing in front of a New York crowd on a nightly basis but the Czech Republic native was nowhere near as effective with the Blueshirts as he was with New Jersey. Known for his two-way play, Holik often looked lost on the ice and finished his first season in New York with only 35 points. He played two seasons in the Big Apple before getting traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005.
1 Manny Malhotra
Drafted by the New York Rangers in the first round and seventh overall at the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, center Manny Malhotra had both high praise and expectations entering his rookie season in the Big Apple (1998-99). Yet, Malhotra goes down as the worst New York Rangers player of all time.
The Mississauga, Ontario native was supposed to be an offensive powerhouse for the Broadway Blueshirts and help jump start the Rangers back to the promise land. However, the polar opposite outcome took place. During Malhotra's three seasons the former first-round-pick only produced a total of 28 points in 150 games played. The center panned out to be nothing more than a third or fourth line center, but Malhotra found a way to stick around in the NHL as he officially retired in early September of 2016.
He managed to play parts of four seasons with New York, and went onto to play for the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets, Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes and Montreal Canadiens.
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