4 Pieces of New York Rangers Trivia Every Fan Should Know

Andrew CapitelliContributor IJuly 16, 2013

4 Pieces of New York Rangers Trivia Every Fan Should Know

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    A lot can happen in 87 years. The New York Rangers are one of the oldest teams in North American sports history and a member of the NHL’s exclusive Original Six club.

    Naturally, the organization has seen countless ups and downs, and in the process, a lifetime’s worth of memories have been created.

    It can be hard to sort through them all and acknowledge some of the most interesting happenings in the organization’s history. So what better time to do so then the dog days of summer?

    Today we’ll unearth some of the most interesting, yet vital pieces of Rangers history. These are the four bits of trivia every Blueshirts fan should know.

Brian Leetch: First Non-Canadian to Win the Conn Smythe

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    The Rangers' 1994 Stanley Cup victory not only made history for being the franchise’s first championship in 54 years, but for another reason as well. Brian Leetch, who won the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP, was the first non-Canadian and first American to win the award.

    The first 29 winners all held Canadian citizenship, and although during that era an overwhelming majority of the players in the league were indeed Canadian, it’s still a staggering statistic. The '90s saw the influx of quality American players, and it was only a matter of time before a U.S.-born suitor would win the award.

    And who better than the greatest American-born defenseman, and arguably, the greatest American-born player, period, to be the one to do it? Leetch, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is just one of eight defenseman to register 1,000 points in their NHL career, but his landmark Conn Smythe win may be his most important individual accolade.

Mark Messier: First to Captain Two Different Franchises to Cup Titles

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    When Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, he left behind a talented cast of players who were eager to prove that they could win without “The Great One.”

    Mark Messier was the one to take over as captain, and after just two seasons without Gretzky, Messier led the Oilers to victory in the 1990 Stanley Cup Final.

    Messier, anxious for a new challenge, joined the Rangers a year later in hopes that he could end New York’s 50-plus year Cup drought.

    And, as we all know, he did. On June 14, 1994, Messier collected the Stanley Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman, and in the process, put all the “1940” chants to bed.

    To this point, Messier is the only player to captain two separate franchises to Stanley Cup championships. It may not seem incredibly rare, but considering how hard it has become to win the Cup, Messier may hold the distinction for decades to come.

Andy Bathgate: The 1962 Scoring Title—Almost.

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    Amazingly enough, a Rangers player has won the scoring title just three times in 87 years, none of which came during the Art Ross trophy era. But in 1962, Andy Bathgate came dangerously close.

    At the conclusion of the 70-game season, Bathgate and Bobby Hull were tied with 84 points. Hull ended up being awarded the Art Ross on a count that he had more goals—50 compared to Bathgate’s 28.

    But what’s most interesting is that the month before, in February, Bathgate was awarded an assist in a game against the Boston Bruins. But Bathgate knew he never touched the puck before goal, and therefore didn’t deserve to be credited with an assist.

    Less than two weeks later, Bathgate informed the league and they removed the assist from his tally. In the end, Bathgate’s honesty cost him the scoring title, and as a result, the Rangers haven’t had a scoring champion since Bryan Hextall in 1941-42.

Pavel Bure: The Last Ranger to Wear Number 9

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    The Rangers have not just one, but two No. 9 jerseys hanging from the rafters at Madison Square Garden. The first of which went up in early February of 2009, when Adam Graves was honored with his own, personal jersey-retiring ceremony.

    But later that month, Andy Bathgate’s No. 9 was also raised to the rafters, in a ceremony in which he shared with Harry Howell.

    What’s most curious is that neither Graves nor Bathgate were the last to wear the number. Pavel Bure was. When the Rangers acquired Bure in 2002, Sandy McCarthy wore Bure’s classic No. 10. Instead of asking for McCarthy’s number, Bure contacted Graves, who was the last player to wear No. 9 for the Rangers.

    Seeing that Graves had achieved near-legend status with the Rangers, Bure respectfully asked permission to wear the sweater, and of course, being the man he is, Graves allowed it.

    Bure only played 51 games for the Rangers, but the fact that he was the last to wear such a sacred number in the organization’s history is a bit of history each Rangers fan should know.