Bull Dog Line’s Best of Series: Centers Edition

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.

134 thoughts on “Bull Dog Line’s Best of Series: Centers Edition”

  1. Good Morning Boneheads! Nice BDL no complaints. If Messier had just played that one season, the cup season, I would still place him #1 definitely slayed the Dragon!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great job once again BDL. I may have put Pav a bit higher than Stepan but that’s just for the sake of conversation. Gretzky is Gretzky so obviously he goes on the top 10 list but we really got him at the end of his greatness. The one notable thing from his 96-97 stats is that he put up 97 points and 25 goals and actually suffered through a 25 game goaless streak for what I believe was the first time in his career. Had it not been for that he would have had 30+ goals and broken 100 points on the way to that last playoff run before the dark ages

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  3. Doodie, I guess I have to do some self reflecting to see if I’m a Brassard hater because he’s nothing near an all time Ranger as far as I’m concerned. I think I’d put Nemchinov ahead of him and he mostly played wing

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  4. Good morning, boneheads!
    Nice, BDL.
    You know what’s remarkable? Gretzky played her at the end of his career and was still averaging over a point per game. Messier isn’t far behind with almost a point per game.

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  5. I always liked Nedved,( I still have one of his game used sticks in my collection) but if it weren’t for that “Czech line” era I think most Rangers fans would have less good memories of him. He put up points but was the definition of soft. Hard to be that kind of player during the Messier era

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  6. Were those 2 were the only pt/game players for the NY Rangers in their NYR stints/career?
    Quick research; Nylander & Jagr (but not Straka). Gilbert & Ratelle just miss
    .
    Kelly Kisio, steady eddie; very solid contributor.

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  7. Although he didn’t play here long, larmer deserves a mention and I love nemchinov, he’d have been 2 on my list but only because I liked him that much ;).

    I might of had nylander on that list instead of stepan, but for the life of me I can’t remember how long he was here.

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  8. Kelly Kissio is a good honorable mention. 336 games 305 points.

    As for a point per game guys believe it or not, Bernie Nicholls. 110 in 104

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  9. Fate and bad luck are a beetch. Thinking of Dale Rolfe who is remembered and defined not by his stellar D, but for breaking Ratelle’s ankle with a slapper and being slapped around by that moron Dave Schultz.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Coos the only thing he did worse than the turtle was scoring 20+ goals that one year. Convincing himself and rangers fans that he was a 20 goal scorer

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  11. But Bole was a valuable 4th liner. You’re right, though, in saying that he deluded himself into thinking he was a talented scorer rather than a powerful fore-checker.

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  12. Callahan is out indefinitely again. Something with a hip. We dodged a YUGE bullet. Tho, I feel bad for Calls. He gave his all to NYR.

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  13. Can’t disagree that Cally and his agent overpriced themselves around these parts. No one except we recognizes the huge tax incentives that finalized his decision to go. NHL doesn’t want anyone thinking about something as gauche as a million dollar tax savings. Hypocrites.

    BTW, we never did fill Cally’s inspirational enthusiasm factor here.

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  14. Some of my “mentions” but not on any lists: Nicholls, Ridley, Richards, Drury. Sure seems to be a dearth at that position for many decades. Dionne? Carpenter? (Ducks twice).
    Funny thing about ’94 is that team had so many guys who played center that season. Messier, Nmchinov, Tikkanen, Larmer, Kovalev, MacTavish, Hudson, Graves … I know I’m forgetting someone.

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  15. That was the same year we got Derek Morris and Nik Antropov at the deadline..then lost to the Caps first round. Guess we should have tanked and went through the Atlantic

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  16. Norm,
    I did see Stemkowski, but for some reason I thought him more of a LW. I had him on my original LW list. Thinking about it now, he was probably more a center, and I should have given him more consideration. I don’t remember watching his triple overtime winner, but I have seen the highlights of it many,many times.

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  17. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/display_players.php?tmi=7089

    most mentioned but these guys are honorable mention at least and stemmer needs to be on the list

    stemkowski
    turcotte
    brassard

    bickell like carp says for faceoffs

    slowinski – too early but what a name for hockey
    reminds me of people yelling slow at lowe

    i think larmer was more a wing here.
    nylander only 2 yrs but 2 very good years

    the above link shows straka as a c but i thought he was more a wing

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I was going to bring up Turcotte’s name. Not bad numbers in his four full years with the Rangers. always remembered him as a shooter first except for the last game of the 1990-91 season when he kept feeding Mike Gartner who was stuck on 49 goals.

    To me Stemmer was always a Center, anchoring the third line with Bruce MacGregor and Ted Irvine (aka Chris Jericho’s Dad).

    Larmer was a lefty shooting RW who I can still envision him scoring on penalty shot slapper against the Blackhawks in his return to Chicago.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Mike Hudson, who was a decent center, was suspended 10 or 15 games for a high-sticking incident in ’94. (pre-Dept. of Player Safety days, obviously). During the end of the suspension, the Rangers made all those trades and Hudson couldn’t get back into the lineup.
    He walked into Keenan’s office and said, “Um, coach, you know my suspension’s over, right?” Never played again.

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  20. Turcotte was truly amazing in that he rode Secretariat to victory in the Belmont, then 15 years later, after incredible work and determination, he became a sixth round draft choice of the Rangers and represented them in the ’91 All Star game.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Re: Weight, Carp,I feel like longevity aside he and Todd Marchant should get brought up in these talks as both would have gone on to do some great things here. Just as Amonte would have.

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  22. BDL it was around 1991 when a wise man said “One day you’ll read Turcotte’s grave stone and it’ll say ‘here lies Turcotte. He’s in alone…he missed’..”

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  23. I saw the Stemkowski goal in a bar in Manhattan. They were the only places that had cable then. My future wife and I found our way to her apartment via several bars in Manhattan where we watched each of the successive OTs. I think beers were ~$1 then. We stared on the east side and finished in Washington Heights.

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  24. The Therrien ripping of shaw in the 2nd intermission of the game against the flyers in the mtl locker room and it got so personal and bad price told Therrien to stfu and get out of the locker room

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  25. He was ripping shaw because of a minor he took…odd they went on a losing streak and Therrien was fired right after

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  26. Fwiw, there are English speaking “snippets” on this link, just click on mtl link and they have pretty good little “insider” blurbs.

    All the stations in Canada tsn family have the links and they’re pretty informative from some of the tsn insider folks

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  27. Man, where’s Orr? I miss that fuggin guy. It’s around this time of the day/month that he would throw out a nice
    “OFFICIAL: Rangers acquire Shattenkirk for Vesey Skeji and a second”

    Liked by 1 person

  28. James
    Me too. I’d trade vesey except for I think it sets a bad precedent for ufa college guys that want to play here

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  29. Therrien and Julien both recycled by Montreal and fine with it. Just like Carlyle in Anaheim. You would think some of these coaches would want a clean slate when choosing their next job but I guess having an actual coaching job is more important.

    As for Seguin, he’s blossomed into a real nice player in Dallas. Meanwhile Boston has Marchand and Pasternak but lost that trade pretty badly. Handful or not, you’ve got to be tough and patient with players like that.

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  30. I like skjel and vesey, just because I like them doesn’t me I wouldn’t move them in the right deal (brassard for instance). Both guys are valuable assets, but certainly not untradeable or HOFers at this point in their careers.

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  31. IMO, Shay has tremendous upside. Maybe Duncan Keith potential. But he could also become another DelZaster (though I don’t think that’s likely)

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  32. The previous 3 seasons the Rangers played on deadline day. They made there big trades (St. Louis, Yandle, and Staal) early in the day so the players they traded for could travel and play that night. This year they do not play on deadline day. Which means they hold us hostage till the deadline.

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  33. I thought the Yandle deal was the day before the deadline. Not sure about Staal.

    They also made the Brassard deal, etc., on a day they played, and those guys suited up that night.

    Thank you. FG. Who was better during that penalty shot? Richter or JD?

    Loved Leetch in deep for a shot, then chasing down the rebound in the corner, and still nearly getting back when he lost the puck.

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  34. The year before they did Clowe the day before the deadline, but if I recall correctly, Gaborik to Columbus was announced just as the deadline passed or even afterwards and Clowe, Brassard, and Moore all played that night and had big games.

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  35. My point still stands. They did there work early. Now stop fact checking me and just accept what I say as the truth!😁

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  36. I believe Ryan Clowe scored his first of the season in his Rangers debut and Moore and Brass both scored as well…We have that and Gaborik has a Stanley Cup with LA…so I guess it all worked out?

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  37. Good evening all! Bulldog, a much belated mama love shoutout for the series….really enjoyed it and the ensuing discussions.

    So relieved I get game tonight! Thought I was gonna get hartnelled….LGR!

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  38. and then Torts had them get more ‘jam’ and grit’ along with shot blocking technique so they wouldn’t beat teams so badly.

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  39. I love how some hockey analysts say not much of anything will happen this deadline due to expansion draft and other say all the GMs they talk to aren’t worried about the expansion draft because they can sort out issues before the draft

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