Being an Original Six franchise, the New York Rangers are afforded a certain set of privileges. and among those is a rich history.
Although the team has won only four Stanley Cup championships, their 87-year run has cultivated great tradition. Forty-seven Hall of Famers have donned the Rangers’ Blue, and a total of eight jerseys hang from the rafters of Madison Square Garden. Regardless of their shortcomings, the Rangers are a proud franchise with loyal fans.
Many players have been loyal, too. Some players just love playing for the organization and as a result, they remain with the team for their entire careers. Some the best players to ever call New York home have spent their entire NHL careers on Broadway.
Today, we tip our hats to those who remained loyal. There are many temptations in professional sports, and for a player to begin and end his career with the same team says something about their character.
So without further ado, we’ll take a look at the five greatest Rangers to play their entire career with the club.
Ron Greschner played for the Rangers from 1974-75 to 1989-90 and is considered not only one of the best Rangers’ defensemen of all time, but one the franchise’s biggest fan favorites.
A versatile defenseman, Greschner had success in both the defensive and offensive zones. His best offensive season came in 1977-78 when he tallied 72 points in 78 games. Greschner also had an edge to his game and wasn't afraid to mix it up. As a result, he recorded over 100 penalty minutes in five of his 15 NHL seasons.
At the end of his career, Greschner had played in 982 games for the Rangers—which is fourth all-time—and amassed 610 points and 1,226 penalty minutes. In the fifteen years he was with the Rangers, the team missed the playoffs just twice. He also played a pivotal part in the team’s run to the 1978-79 finals, scoring 12 points in 18 playoff games.
Greschner briefly served as captain of the Blueshirts from October 1986 to December 1987. He is no doubt one of the fanbase’s most beloved players, and the fact that his No. 4 jersey doesn't hang from the rafters has not gone over well with some of New York’s more senior fans.
Bill Cook was a member of the inaugural New York Rangers squad back in 1926-27. He was the organization's first captain and even lead the team in scoring that season, tallying 37 points in 44 games.
He, his brother Bun Cook and Frank Boucher made up the “Bread Line,” which scored every single goal for the Rangers in the 1927-28 Stanley Cup Final. It was the first time the franchise won the Cup, and just five years later, in 1932-33, the team hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup again. The Buns and Boucher led the charge for the Rangers offensively then, too.
His two Cups put him in a special category of Rangers who've won the championship twice with the club. His 367 career points is good for 21st all-time in Rangers history, although his 474 games played is less than nearly every player ahead of him on the list.
In 1952, Cook was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and, although his number is not retired by the Rangers, he is widely considered one of the best players in the team’s history.
“The King” has been the Rangers best player following the 2004-05 lockout. He’s won the team’s MVP award every year since 2006-07 and deserves every ounce of credit he’s received over the course of his eight-year career with the Rangers.
Until this past abbreviated season, Lundqvist recorded 30 or more wins in every season he played in. He’s been nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender five times and won it in 2011-12, becoming just the fifth Ranger to take home the honor.
His 276 wins in 511 games is second in team history behind Mike Richter, who has 301, although Lundqvist has played roughly 150 less games than Richter has at this point. His 45 shutouts are second to only Ed Giacomin, who had 49 in 538 games.
His career 2.25 goals-against average and .920 save percentage are currently 11th and third best in NHL history, respectively. By all accounts, Lundqvist is on pace to become the greatest Rangers goalie—and possibly player—in team history.
He’s been the face of the franchise since coming over from Sweden, and it’s scary to think where the Rangers would have been without him this past decade. The only reason I have him third on this list is because he’s still only played eight seasons, and there’s no guarantee he finishes his career in New York.
Mike Richter has forever been immortalized in the hearts of Rangers fans, not just because his number hangs from the rafters, but for the reasons it’s up there. If there’s one guy who’s really earned it, it’s Richter.
There’s no doubt the 1994 Stanley Cup winning Rangers were a talented and driven hockey club. The likes of Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and Alexei Kovalev made the Rangers the team to beat. But if it wasn't for the truly sublime play of Richter between the pipes, the Rangers wouldn't have made it past the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.
And although he did not win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, he could have. Richter stole games in rounds three and four in every sense of the word. He could have done nothing else in his career but play like he did in those two rounds and he still would have made this list.
He doesn't have any other hardware to show for except an All-Star Game MVP award. He’s never been named to an end-of-season All-Star team, and he hasn't been elected to the Hall of Fame. Yes, he is the franchise’s leader in wins, but it was his guts and determination to will the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup victory in 54 years that gets Richter to number two on the list of greatest career Rangers.
Rod Gilbert was—believe it or not—the first Ranger to have his number retired by the franchise following his retirement in 1979. He played a total of 16 full seasons in New York and is third all-time in games played, having appeared 1,065 times for the Rangers.
Gilbert is at or near the top of nearly every Rangers all-time offensive statistic. He’s first in points (1,021), first in goals (406) and second in assists (615). Though he never scored more than 50 goals in a single season, he did register 97 points on two separate occasions.
The Bill Masterton Trophy winner (1976) and eight-time All-Star never won a Stanley Cup, but he was a part of the 1971-72 Rangers squad that took the Bobby Orr-led Boston Bruins to Game Six of the Cup Final. It would be the only time Gilbert reached the finals and the closest he ever got to winning the Cup.
His years spent on what was known as the GAG line (goal-a-game) with Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield no doubt attributed to his own personal statistical success as a member of the Rangers. That being said, there’s still no question Gilbert is the greatest career Ranger in franchise history and wholly deserving of his Hockey Hall of Fame nomination in 1982.