The New York Rangers will finally recognize Vic Hadfield’s accomplishments as they raise his No. 11 to the rafters at MSG.
The G-A-n-G is back together.
The long overdue wait is over as the New York Rangers will raise Vic Hadfield’s No. 11 to the Garden rafters in a pregame ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
The “Goal-A-Game” line will be reunited as Hadfield will join Jean Ratelle’s No. 19 and Rod Gilbert’s No. 7 up above the Garden ice. The greatest line combination in Rangers history will stand together again.
The New York Rangers claimed Vic Hadfield from the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1961 Intra-League draft. Hadfield was a tough guy, the modern day enforcer, very early in his career. As a member of both St. Catharines and the Buffalo Bisons, Hadfield regularly posted far more penalty minutes than points. He continued his tough guy ways when as a member of the Rangers.
Hadfield played for New York beginning in 1961-62 and he stayed with the team through the 1973-74 season. He played 13 great seasons where his game evolved from enforcer to goal scorer and eventually to captain.
In 1963-64 Hadfield led the NHL in penalty minutes, recording 151 minutes in 69 games. Over the next three seasons, he continued to record over 100 penalty minutes each season. Then an interesting conversation occurred that caused a transformation in Hadfield’s game.
A friends suggestion changes everything
In the 1967-68 season, good friend Bobby Hull suggested Hadfield try a curved hockey stick. The forward took the suggestion and skated with it as his point production started to increase with his penalty minutes continuing to be in the triple digits.
That same season he was put on a line with Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert and the G-A-G line was formed. An everlasting memory created as the line produced goal after goal.
Hadfield had 20 goals with 39 points that season which started a run of seven straight seasons where he scored 20 or more goals while a member of the Rangers. The forwards’ best season was the 1972-73 campaign where he scored 50 goals with 56 assists for 106 points along with 142 penalty minutes.
It was the first time in Rangers history that a player hit the 50-goal plateau.
Hadfield proved it was possible to score goals, set up his teammates and play an aggressive style of hockey that put fear into the opposition. He could do it all.
The well rounded forward was named the captain of the New York Rangers in 1971, a title he held until he was traded a few years later.
Always a fan favorite and the entertainer to his fellow teammates, Hadfield knew how to get in the opposing player’s heads to drive them crazy on the ice and knock them off their game.
In a contest against the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, Hadfield somehow got his hands on the mask of Toronto goalie Bernie Parent and threw it into the stands to the delight of the Garden fans.
The game was delayed until they found the fan who caught the mask and took it back.
The 1972 season was the teams best with the G.A.G line. The playoffs that year began with the team one man down as the Rangers were without one member of the great G-A-G line with Jean Ratelle injured.
The Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in six games and swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the semi-finals. The Stanley Cup Finals was against the Boston Bruins who proved too strong for the Rangers as they lost the series in six games.
Hadfield played two more seasons with the Rangers before being traded to Pittsburgh where he finishing his career.
Hadfield retired from the NHL in 1977 after he sustained a knee injury which essentially ended a great hockey story.
Finally, Hadfield's 11 will be raised to the Garden roof
The news about Hadfield’s number retirement was done with class as the Rangers organization always does. It was also done with Hadfield’s linemates by his side.
During Jean Ratelle jersey retirement, the organization announced that Hadfield would have his number go up to the rafters.
Following the announcement of Hadfield’s No. 11 going up, President and CEO Glenn Sather said this of the 77-year-old Hadfield to the New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis.
“As a player, Vic Hadfield embodied the heart, soul, and determination of a New York Ranger,” team President Glen Sather said in a statement. “His willingness to contribute in any way necessary to help the Rangers win earned the respect and admiration of his teammates and fans alike. It is only fitting that Vic takes his rightful place alongside the Rangers legends in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
The last time Hadfield skated for New York was at the end of the 1973-74 season. It has been 44 years since the fans of this great city were able to cheer for the 50-goal scorer.
On Sunday, Dec. 2 in a pre-game ceremony that will have all the well deserved bells and whistles, the fans will get to celebrate with Vic once again.
Rod Gilbert, Jean Ratelle, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and the other No. 11 already in the Garden Rafters, Mark Messier, will all be there to watch a well Hadfield’s jersey ascend to Ranger’s immortality.
Old Time Hockey
The G-A-G line at center ice for Gilbert’s retirement. Look at that car! Look at the beard Hadfield is sporting. Sunday night they will get to do this one more glorious time.