Bull Dog Line’s Best of Series: Wingers Edition

I know some of you thought after reading this title that there would be some hair/glam rock that would follow, but the wingers BDL is discussing today are the men who played along the walls from the mid 70s through the present.

We have one more post of BDL’s for the centers, and then some gems from Bonehead favorite George Grimm. Also, I could use volunteers for game reviews pretty much every single night that they play.

And now, here’s BDL’s wingers. Spoiler: he and I had some significant disagreement on this one, particularly for Gartner and Kovalev:

I was originally going to do a top 10 for both RWs, and LWs, but after discussing it a bit with RR2, I decided to combine the wings. The RWs were a much stronger group than the LWs. Coming up with 10 LWs was a bit of a stretch. So here is my combo of top 12 wingers.

  1. Mike Gartner.

Gartner was a goal scorer. Plain and simple. 3 seasons of 40 or more goals as a Ranger, and the season he was traded, he had 28. 332 games as a Ranger, with 173 goals.

  1. Ryan Callahan.

No, I have not forgiven him, but he does belong on the list. 132 goals in 450 games, but that’s not what he was about. Callahan was an original Black and Blueshirt. Finished every check. Never met a shot he wouldn’t block. Former Ranger Captain. To this day it’s makes me sad, and angry that he is not a Ranger for life.

  1. Bill Fairbairn.

Can’t have this list without including a member of the Bull Dog Line. Great on the PK. Very good defensively and he could score. 138 goals in 536 games as a Ranger; 4 seasons of 20 or more goals.

  1. Alexei Kovalev.

A favorite of mine. Never became what he should have, but was still mighty good. 492 games over two stints as a Ranger with 142 goals. A very good playoff performer. Cup champion.

  1. Tomas Sandstrom.

A rat. He would thrive in today’s NHL, as they now protect the perp. Sandstrom played on the edge. 407 games as a Ranger. 5 seasons of 20 or more goals, and a 40-goal season in 1987.

  1. Steve Vickers.

Another favorite of mine. His number 8 was the first jersey I owned. 6 seasons of 20 or more goals, and the 1973 “Rookie of the Year”. Vickers did most of his work right on top of the crease. Could drop the gloves when needed; was a feared fighter early in his career. 698 games, 246 goals.

  1.  Anders Hedberg.

He is probably the best two-way Ranger forward that I have seen. Came over as an FA from the WHA before the ’78/’79 season. 6 seasons of 20 or more goals, and three 30-goal seasons. 465 games, 172 goals.

  1. Don Maloney.

Lived in the corners. Another strong two-way player. 653 games; 195 goals as a Ranger. Was called up with a little over 20 games to go in the 1979 regular season. Ended up being the leading playoff scorer during their magical playoff run.

  1. Jaromir Jagr.

I struggled a bit with Jagr. Not if, but where on the list. Jagr only played 277 games as a Ranger, but without Jagr, the Rangers would not be where they are today. Along with Lunqvist, he brought the Rangers out of the dark ages. A 54-goal season. 124 goals in his 277 games, and a Ranger Captain.

  1. Vic Hadfield.

839 games as a Ranger. 262 goals. And 572 points. Hadfield was a rugged mean SOB. 1,036 PIMs. You can bet they weren’t for tripping and hooking. Hadfield was a main combatant in the famous brawl against the Leaves in 1971. The brawl in which Bernie Parent’s mask ended up in the blue seats, and then out of the Garden. My favorite photo in the Ranger yearbooks I’ve collected, was a picture of Vic’s 50th. He was the first Ranger to get 50 goals in a season. The LW on the GAG line. Ranger Captain.

  1.  Adam Graves.

There isn’t much I can say about Graves that hasn’t already been said. A couple of things did surprise me when looking back at his career. He played 772 games as a Ranger. I didn’t  realize it was that many. We all remember the 52-goal season in ’94. Graves also had 9 seasons of 20 or more goals, and three 30-goal seasons. One of my favorite memories of Graves was in a game against the Caps. The Caps had this little rat named Kaminski, I think. This rat was running around taking liberties with Leetch. Graves had had enough. Grabbed the rat, and just beat the snot out of him. Ah, the old days

1.. Rod Gilbert.

1,065 games as a Ranger. 406 goals, and 1,021 points. Gilbert was a career Blueshirt. RW on the GAG line. Gilbert’s bread and butter was the slap shot coming down the wing. Was not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score. Beautiful skater. Quick story.  A couple of seasons after Gilbert retired, I was at the Garden with my brother. I am a little embarrassed to say I was in the Red seats ( my brother’s company seats). Right after the anthem, guess who sits right next to me? Rod Gilbert. Needless to say, I froze. I could not get two words out. Gilbert nodded and smiled at me, but the best I could do was mumble incoherently. Still one of my fondest memories, even though I choked in the clutch.

90 thoughts on “Bull Dog Line’s Best of Series: Wingers Edition”

  1. Bdl
    Well done sir. I’d love to see a list of your top fighters and/or top fights. Your memory/fandom goes much further back than mine 😉


  2. Definitely not enough time spent in NY, but Pat Verbeek made a huge impact in a short time here. Not nearly enough to break into the above-mentioned group though. But what an impact he made in that one full season. That righty-shot on Messier’s left on the PP…
    Marty Straka was also a pretty good player here for 3 seasons, which puts him in the smaller sample size timeframe. But again, another guy who doesn’t beat any of the guys in your top-12.
    John Ogrodnick is another who had some great years here. But again (broken record), he doesn’t beat your top-12 imho.


  3. Like to see Hedberg mentioned. As with Nash, I admire top guys who sacrifice some glory and play both ways for the good of the team. Not entirely common to be sure.


  4. Amonte had some good numbers during time here

    Don Murdoch just couldn’t stay away from the bad stuff

    Kreider by end of career could be strongly considered. JT Miller too.


  5. A lot of guys had sample size problems, to be sure. Amonte, Weight, Tikkanen, Larmer, Verbeek, Fleury.

    Also, BDL and I disagreed as to whether Petr Nedved should have been considered a winger or center. I always thought of him as a winger that filled in at center when needed. But it’s hard to remember those times because the team was just so bad.


  6. Murdoch could have played with Kevin Stevens and Theo Fleury. Loved the chicken flap against the isles by Fleury. Didn’t he also beat up a mascot.


  7. Amonte would have been an all-time Ranger legend had he stayed. So much popularity.

    Love Verbeek too. Was on pace for 50 just like Messier in 96, but both got injured.
    Shame it came down to losing he or Beuk that one year. Messier flanked by Graves and Beeker was what the old NHL was about.

    Straka was a good Ranger. Gaby was streaky but contributed to the post dark years


  8. Fleury beat up the Shark in San Jose, which was the start of his downfall, that trip where he was left crying on the trainers table in Denver, I believe, then “quit” hockey after taking three or four minor penalties and leaving the rink during a game in Pitt. Soon after he was in rehab.


  9. Nedved played some wing, but he was a Center. He pivoted the Rangers Czech Line: Hlavac-Nedved-Dvorak during the Rangers doldrums.

    Also to followup on Alex’s brief list, both Pavelich and LaRouche were Centers although Pierre might have played some wing.

    I am glad to see that Hedberg got some respect. Never expected him top equal his WHA numbers, but he might have put up better numbers if Ulf Nilsson could have stayed healthy. The two Swedes never really found the perfect LW in the NHL, but they put up some good numbers when Pat Hickey was on their left side. It would have been interesting to have seen Ulf and Anders reunite with Bobby Hull in The Golden Jet’s brief five game Rangers run during the 1981 exhibition season.

    Also think Mike Gartner deserved a better rating – and a better fate from Captain Queeg, er Mike Keenan. His losing out on the 1994 Cup was the one negative because Glenn Anderson added nothing (other than his Mum’s salmon sandwiches). Gartner was Michael Grabner with better hands, better scoring ability and better playmaking abilities. Also helped get the Black Aces names on the Cup as part of his duties with the NHLPA.


  10. Wow! Great job, BDL. As many have said, there were a lot of other great wingers, but I think BDL nailed it with his 12.

    Simon, thanks for the Graves video. Loved watching that guy fight. Only lost once that I can remember, in a line brawl in Detroit, vs. Keith Primeau. I think that was the game Kocur fought Probert, his great friend, and he absolutely hated doing it. But he was under orders from Keenan. After the game, Probert’s mother scolded both of them in the hallway.

    Quick story: Rangers played the Devils in a neutral-site game in Halifax. Keenan ordered Kocur to fight Peluso, whom Keenan coached in Chicago. Joey chased him around for a few shifts, then came back to the bench and barked at Keenan, ‘Your f****n boy won’t fight me.”

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Pierre ‘Lucky’ LaRouche? Center, right? Not enough NYR games but 123 goals in 253 games ain’t bad (along with .96 pts/game) and smoking cigs in the ‘room’ between periods.


  12. FYI – According to Newsday, March 2 is the date MSG will start to livestream Rangers, Islanders and Devils games. The rangers are in Boston and the Isles are in Dallas.


  13. Lucky had a quite the PO year in the ECF run in ’86 when they ran into a hot young goalie named Roy. Was at the Game 3 OT loss on the breakaway by dirtbag Claude Lemieux after James Patrick was interfered with coming back into the play by the ref! Willie Huber….smh…


  14. Thanks BDL. I think this list is a good piece of evidence as to why we are at 1 cup in 70+ years. Not a whole lot of exemplary names on there. Loved Billy Fairbairn, but if he is in the top 10 all time, ugh.


  15. The list is 40 or so years long. Plenty of reasons in the early years why no cups. Territorial rights gave unfair advantage to Montreal and Toronto among others. No draft. Things like that.


  16. TYM – I believe that BDL is only listing players he has seen, not from the entire history, so figure from about 1970ish until the present (am I close BDL).


  17. TYM – I didn’t want to say it, but since you did first…. I started watching the Rangers starting around 1969 or 1970. I remember Billy Fairbairn. For his time, I thought he was just average. Not a bad player, but certainly not one of the best of the last 40 years.


  18. I think he was much too high. He was not an exceptional Ranger. In fact, I would argue that his time with the Rangers (especially the second stint) was the worst of his career until he got to Ottawa.

    He was an otherworldly talent, but he never quite put it together for us. If he wasn’t on the 1994 team, he would not have made the list, at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. yes but people should not throw out that 1 cup in 75 yrs without knowing certain facts. 25 or 30 years should be shaved off. example 1950 they lost in double ot in game 7. none were played in ny and most in detroit.

    kovalev tour 1 definitely deserves to be on the list


  20. LOL! Keenan showed his disgust with Kovalev’s effort one game by keeping him out on the ice for 7 consecutive minutes. Kovi was later quoted through a translator as saying he appreciated how much confidence the coach had in him.


  21. Kocur tells the story that when Kovi, a #1 pick, came up, he spoke no English and traveled with a translator. Pre-season scrimmage, Kovi, large, and no shrinking violet, smashed Kocur into the boards with vigor. Joey said he new he couldn’t hurt the #1 pick, but after a shower, he hunted down Kovi’s translator and told him to explain to Kovi who he (Kocur) was and what his job was here, and that the next time he does what he did today, he goes back to wherever he came from “in a box.”

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Cops, Kovalev also drew 2 penalties and scored a goal during that shift.
    Does anyone remember his play against Tucker? I think Alex play for Montreal at that time


  23. Norm – You can blame Freddie “The Fog” Shero for not signing Joey Mullen. Herb Brooks had a spot for Mullen set on the 1980 Olympic team, but the Mullen family’s home suffered some major damage – can’t remember what it was.

    Art Kaminsky (I believe it was him) was set to represent a bunch of Olympians. When the Mullens had their problems, Joey had to turn pro. The Rangers passed and former Blueshirts GM Emile Francis jumped on him for the Blues.

    I wish I could remember the name of the book that had the whole story. I lent to a frfiend many moons ago and never got it back. It might have been by Kaminsky – will check to see if I am correct.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Speaking of favourite graves’ moment, when (I think fetisov) hits messier low along the boards in a game vs the wings (the hit occurs inside the ranger d zone), graves (who was near the other blue line with apparent eyes in the back of his head) wheels around and goes all the way back down the ice and goes after fetisov…loved graves.


  25. I tracked down the Olympic book. I think it is “One Goal” by John Powers and Art Kaminsky. It is an interesting read, from what I remember, on how the 1980 Team was put together.

    While searching for the book, I came across an excerpt of another book that included a feature on Ralph Cox. For those not familiar with him, Cox was to the 1980 team what Herb Brooks was to the 1960 team – the last cut.

    The book came out in December and is called “Win at Losing: How Our Biggest Setbacks Can Lead to Our Greatest Gains”. The author is none other than former Ranger Reports Blogfather Sam Weinman!


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