It’s that time of the year again, when we honor our Irish-American heritage by eating salty, stroke-inducing corned beef and everyone’s favorite vegetable—cabbage.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad; it’s time we honored the greatest Irish hockey players to ever lace 'em up for the New York Rangers. It took a while to sift through the list of every player to ever play for the Rangers, but, as you can expect, I hit pay-dirt once I got to the Ms.
7. Ryan Callahan (2006-present)
It was no surprise that Callahan’s best game as a Ranger came three seasons ago in a game versus the Boston Bruins on St. Patrick’s Day. The Rangers went on to win 7-0, and the game was dubbed the “St. Patrick’s Day Massacre.”
Callahan had both his first NHL hat trick and fight that night, in a game I’ll never forget. Callahan continues to be a very important Ranger, killing penalties alongside Olympic teammate Chris Drury. If he plays a few more seasons here, you can be sure his ranking among the Irish greats will rise.
6. Brendan Shanahan (2006-2008)
No other player to play for the Rangers in my lifetime wore his nationality on his sleeve like Brendan Shanahan. The beloved “Shanny” always had the “Irish Jig” played for him when he scored goals in Detroit, and that was played a few times during his tenure with the Rangers.
His mother speaks with a slight Irish accent, but I do not know if she was actually born there. During his two short years with the Rangers, he was the voice in the locker room the team needed and was a part of the Rangers' 600-goal club that included Jaromir Jagr—and each netted his milestone goal within a few games of the other.
5. Lynn Patrick (1934-1946)
If you’re allergic to the name “Patrick,” now is your chance to turn the page, because the next three players all share the same last name.
Lynn played 455 games with the Rangers, spanning 10 seasons. He won two Stanley Cups with the Rangers, led the team in goal scoring once, and won the team MVP award twice. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame posthumously in 1980.
4. James Patrick (1983-1994)
When one thinks of defenseman James Patrick, they think of longevity. Patrick played from 1983 until 2004, suiting up for four teams and appearing in 1280 games.
Patrick started his career with the Rangers, though, and played 671 games in blue, notching 104 goals and 363 assists. He was a part of the many battles between the Rangers and Flyers and Rangers and Islanders during the mid-'80s, which remain some of the most intense hockey games ever played.
3. Lester Patrick (1927)
Lester Patrick would only play one game in his career with the New York Rangers, but it was enough to seal his name in the annals of hockey history forever.
In the deciding game of the 1927 Stanley Cup Finals, Rangers goalie Lorne Chabot was injured and had to leave the game. When the Rangers could not find a goalie to replace him, the 44-year-old Patrick, who was coach at the time, donned the goalie equipment and finished the game, which went to overtime with the Rangers becoming victorious on Frank Boucher’s winning goal.
2. Dave Maloney (1974-1985)
When Dave Maloney was given the captaincy in 1978, he became the youngest captain in Rangers history. The defenseman appeared in 605 games for the Rangers and was as much of a scrapper as he was a good offensive defenseman.
Four seasons in a row, Maloney recorded 10 or more goals and more than a hundred penalty minutes. He currently serves as color analyst for the Rangers radio team on 1050 ESPN.
1. Don Maloney (1978-1989)
Dave’s brother Don gets the nod as the greatest Irish player in Rangers history. Don Maloney scored 20 or more goals five times in his 11 seasons with the Rangers. He also experienced playoff success on very unsuccessful playoff teams, recording 57 points in 85 games.
Six years after retiring from the NHL, Maloney became the Rangers' assistant general manager, a position he held for 10 years. This makes him the longest-tenured Ranger, at 21 years with the franchise. Lester Patrick served 20. Don Maloney is now general manager for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Have to give shout-outs to Buddy O’Connor, Angus “Scotty” Cameron, Kilby Macdonald, and Bruce MacGregor, just because of their last names. Rob McClanahan also deserves a mention because he scored 20 goals as a Ranger once and was on the 1980 US Olympic team.
The final mention goes to a player that should have never even been in the NHL, but, nevertheless, left a lasting impression. I do not know whether or not Ryan Hollweg was of Irish descent, but who could forget this idiocy...err, I mean, patriotism, three years ago before the Rangers' 7-0 win over the Bruins on St. Patrick’s Day?
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