Today is the last of BDL’s excellent series tracking the best Rangers from his time as a fan. Thank you for the tremendous job you have done. Without further ado, here’s BDL:
Before I get to the Centers, I just wanted to take a second to thank RR2 for getting this place up and running, and allowing me to make these small contributions. I also want to thank E3, and CCCP, for jumping in and putting new posts up when needed.
The Centers were a pretty strong group. There were a few guys I did not include in the list but feel they deserve mention: Sergei Nemchinov, Pierre LaRouche, Petr Nedved and Ulf Nilsson. Now to the list.
10. Mark Pavelich.
1980 U.S. Gold medal Olympian, was signed as FA prior to the ’81/’82 season. Played 341 games as a Ranger, scoring 133 goals, and 312 points. Scored 20 or more 4 times, and 30 or more twice. Fixture on the smurfs.
9. Kelly Kisio.
A solid Ranger. 341 games. 110 goals, and 305 points. Ranger captain. 4 time 20-goal scorer.
8. Derek Stepan.
Two way Centers are hard to come by in today’s game; Stepan is one of the better ones, usually matched up against the opposition top line. Stepan has played in 491 games as a Ranger, scoring 123 goals, and 346 points. Slow skater. High hockey IQ.
7. Mike Rogers.
Rogers played in 316 games as a Ranger, and scored just short of a point a game with 308. Had a 103 point season in ’81/’82.
6. Ron Duguay.
Duguay played both Wing and Center as a Ranger, but I put him on as a Center. 499 games as a Ranger, 164 goals, and 340 points. 3 seasons of 20 or more goals, and a 40-goal season for Duguay. Fast choppy skater, and underrated toughness.
5. Wayne Gretzky.
3 seasons as a Ranger, and the only really meaningful one was the ’96/’97 season. He had 25 goals and 97 points in that season, and in the playoffs he had 10 goals and 20 points in 15 games. Unforgettable playoff Hat Trick against Florida in round one. Scored 249 points in 234 games as a Blueshirt.
4. Phil Esposito.
Espo played in 422 games as a Ranger, with 184 goals, and 404 points. Espo scored 29 goals in 62 games the season he came to the Rangers. He had 3 seasons of 30 or more goals, and in ’79 had 42. It took Esposito a few seasons before he accepted being a Ranger. Once he did, he ended up loving his time with them.
3. Walt Tkaczuk.
The center of the Bull Dog Line. Played 945 games for the Rangers, scored 227 goals and had had 678 points. 6 seasons of 20 or more goals. Great on the PK. A great two-way Center. Often matched up against the top lines. Matched up against Bryan Trottier in the ’79 playoffs, and held that line to one even strength goal in the series.
2. Jean Ratelle.
Ratelle was the Center of the famed GAG line. 862 games as a Ranger, 336 goals, and 817 points. 3 seasons of 20 plus goals. Four 30-goal seasons, and two 40-goal seasons. Dale Rolfe broke Ratelle’s ankle with a shot during the ’71/’72 season; a season in which he had 109 points in 63 games. That team was good enough to get to the finals without Ratelle, but not good enough to beat the Bruins or win the Cup without him. I gave a lot of thought to putting Ratelle at the top of this list, but winning the Cup keels him at 2.
1. Mark Messier
Messier had two separate careers as a Ranger. The first one as an MVP in ’92 and a Stanley Cup in ’94. The second one is hardly worth mentioning. 698 games as a Ranger, 250 goals, and 691 points. Messier had three 20-goal seasons, two 30-goal seasons, and 47 goals in the ’96 season. The guarantee in ’94 will live in Ranger history forever. Slayed the dragon. Captain.