Parts one and two of My Favorite Rangers, 1 – 25 (or 27), was heavily populated by tough guys. Part III won’t be entirely different but it also includes two of the most skilled goal scorers to ever suit up in a Rangers sweater. Let’s get right to it.
15. Brandon Prust – Anyone who happens to be friends with me on Facebook, take a close look at my profile picture. That’s actually Brandon Prust, on February 2, 2010 in his first game as a New York Ranger following his trade from Calgary, fighting Brandon Segal, ironically now a Ranger. I am happy to say I was at that game and took that picture. From the moment I saw Prust in that scrap I knew I was going to like him.
In two-plus seasons in New York, Prust proved himself to be one of the toughest players in the game. He was a key penalty-killer for the club and combined with Brian Boyle and Ruslan Fedotenko to form the Rangers top checking line. His departure from the team this summer was a bitter pill but I can’t find fault in the Rangers allowing him to walk and I can’t blame Prust for taking a nice, four-year deal worth $10 million with Montreal. The NHL shelf-life of a player who fights all comers and is as physical as Prust isn’t always a long one. He had every right to take the best offer and the club understandably didn’t want to spend its resources on a 3rd/4th line checker/tough guy.
Here’s the Hockeyfights.com video of that Prust v. Segal scrap. It brings back some memories for sure.
14. Marian Gaborik – I own three personalized Ranger sweaters: An autographed Henrik Lundqvist, a vintage Mark Messier and a Ranger blue Marian Gaborik. I’d love to get more but I can’t complain with the three I have.
Gaborik is one of the most talented players I’ve seen don a Rangers jersey. He has one of the best releases in the game and led the team in goals in 2009 – 2010 and 2011 – 2012 seasons. He has gotten a bad rap for not being particularly physical or playing well in the big games but he did have a couple of bright moments this past postseason while playing through a painful shoulder injury. I have a good feeling about what Gaborik will bring this next season once he recovers from surgery.
Here’s a little highlight compilation of Gabby’s 2011 – 2012 season. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_dIcvibCu0
13. Dan Girardi – It’s not hard to like a guy who signed as an undrafted free agent, carved out a spot on the NHL team, turned himself into one-half of the club’s top shutdown pair and finally earns a well-deserved All-Star berth all within six short seasons. Not only has Girardi done that but he leaves everything he has on the ice each and every game and does anything and everything to help the Rangers win hockey games. He is the ultimate blue collar player on one of the league’s bluest collar teams.
Here’s one of my favorite Dan Girardi moments, the Winter Classic when he announced the starting lineup. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RizZq7eNRd4
12. Sean Avery – One of the most controversial players to ever wear an NHL sweater much less a Rangers one. Avery isn’t well-liked but he earned the affections of many, many Rangers fans who were all very unhappy when he was sent away to Connecticut team the last time. I was fine with that decision as is time as an effective NHL player was about out. However there is no question during his first tenure with the Rangers that he was instrumental in helping those clubs win a lot of games.
What I loved about Avery was how he did whatever it took to get under the skin of an opponent. He was often accused of ducking the tougher opponents and going after the small fries but his rivalry with Ilya Kovalchuk is infamous and just ask Brayden Schenn how much of a pushover Kovy is.
Besides, how many players in the league have an NHL rule named for them? Here’s Avery at his best; or worst if you’re a Devils fan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjZUmnyId3M. I admit it still brings a smile to my face.
11(Tie) – Brendan Shanahan – His role as the head disciplinarian in the NHL hasn’t gone nearly as well as his playing career did. Shanny scored more than 650 goals and recorded 1,354 points in a great career that surprisingly didn’t earn him a Hall-of-Fame election this year.
I loved Shanahan before he joined the Rangers. I was extremely pleased when he agreed to join the club for the 2006-2007 season. In two years as a Ranger Shanny potted 52 goals, 25 on the PP. Known for being the league’s top power forward for much of his career, Shanny rarely ever backed down. What I will remember Shanahan most fondly for was the time when he challenged one of the league’s top heavyweights, Donald Brashear, when the Capitals tough guy started taking liberties with some Ranger players. At the time Shannahan was 38 years-old and well past his fighting prime.
It wasn’t a “win” for Shanny as far as the fight went but he earned tons of respect from me and it’s the reason why he was so respected by his peers in the game. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0CdDOKwVLw
Love how Brashear landed an extra, very late blow well after Shanny hit the ice. Why did we ever sign that lunk Brashear a few years later?
Oh, and who can forget Shanahan’s role in helping to end the last lockout. He was part of a contingent who suggested several rule changes too.
11 (Tie) – Pavel Bure – Perhaps the most exciting player during his prime, Bure’s career was sadly cut short because of knee problems. Wayne Gretzky badly wanted the Rangers to get Bure and the club tried hard but couldn’t reach a deal with then Vancouver GM Brian Burke. Gretzky said he would have played the 1999 – 2000 season had the Blue Shirts pulled off that trade.
The Rangers would eventually land Bure in a trade from Florida but he was only able to give the Rangers 51 games. Of course he also netted an amazing 31 goals in that limited time. At that rate he would have potted 50 goals with ease. The guy was the league’s most dangerous sniper without a doubt.
Of course my fondest memory of Bure was when he failed to do something. Going back to the 1994 SCF, Mike Richter stoned Bure on a penalty shot in hostile territory helping to secure game four for the Rangers and give the Blue Shirts a 3-1 series lead. Who knows what happens if Bure converts that. Maybe the Canucks win that game and tie the series. Maybe they take that momentum and win the series. After all, they did win games five and six forcing a winner-take-all game seven. History was made that night by Mike Richter and not Pavel Bure thankfully.
- Glen Miller’s Favorite New York Rangers: 25-21 (nyrnation.net)
- Glen Miller’s Favorite New York Rangers: 20-16 (nyrnation.net)
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