Mark Messier, Eric Lindros
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Rangers are rich in tradition and history. Therefore, let’s call out eight unbelievable moments from team history. 

Frank Curto

On Tuesday, NASA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission. We put a man on the moon which stands as one of the most incredible accomplishments the United States of America has achieved.

Remembering history is quite important for the progress of the future. The New York Rangers are a team who are constantly reminded of past accomplishments with the hope of regaining that glory in the very near future. One learns by the mistakes and achievements made over time.

So, as America remembers the days of Neil Armstrong and his first steps on the moon, now would be a great time to look back at some of the great moments the Rangers have celebrated over the last 50 years.

Don Maloney scores 3 goals in 2:30 against Washington

Don Maloney was drafted in the second round, 26th overall, in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft. He made his NHL debut that same season and went on to play 11 years for the Blueshirts. A fierce competitor and excellent penalty killer, Maloney netted 307 goals in his 11 seasons with the team. Three of those goals were scored in a blink of an eye.

In a contest against the Washington Capitals on February 1981, 22-year-old Don Maloney scored three goals in a span of two minutes and 30 seconds. The left-winger recorded the last two goals on the same penalty kill situation leading the Blueshirts to a 6-4 victory. Ironically, the Ranger who was in the penalty box for was none other than Don’s brother, Dave Maloney.

Mike Gartner records 600th NHL Goal

Mike Gartner came to the Rangers with 397 goals scored as a member of the Washington Capitals. He scored the prolific goal of his career while wearing the Original Six sweater of New York.

The goal came in a typical scoring play for the speedster. He was skating fast and hard to the net.

Gartner skated down the middle of the Madison Square Garden ice. Alex Kovalev possessed the puck on his left and dished a perfect pass right on to Gartner’s stick which was then directed past the New Jersey Devils goaltender. Sam and JD had the call as Gartner recorded his 600th NHL goal on Dec. 26, 1993. The following March, Mike was traded to Toronto for Glenn Anderson. The Rangers went on to win the Stanley Cup that glorious June 1994. Gartner went on to score 708 goals in his 19 NHL seasons but never did get his hands on the Stanley Cup.

Gartner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

Vic Hadfield becomes first Rangers player to score 50 goals

Rangers captain Vic Hadfield scored 48 times as he prepared to play in the last game of the 1972 season. Hadfield already had the record for most goals scored by a Rangers player in a season, but he wanted to do what only five others had accomplished, he wanted to get to the magic number of 50. To add to the dilemma he would have to do it against the Montreal Canadiens.

Hadfield scored his 49th of the year with an assist by Mr. Ranger himself, Rod Gilbert, in the second period. The Rangers were down in the third period by a score of 6-4 and with less than six minutes to play, the impossible became a reality as Hadfield took a pass from Rod Seiling and scored number 50.

Hadfield’s number was raised to the Garden rafters in 2018.

October 7, 2001- The first regular-season game after 9/11

A month of fear, heartache and anger had plagued the city of New York following the September 11 attack. The New York Rangers took the ice for the first time on Oct. 7 and helped the city, with its important first responders in the stands at MSG, come together and smile if only for a few hours.

Captain Mark Messier was the last player to skate onto the ice. Messier had accepted Chief Downey’s helmet from firefighter Larry McGee. He skated onto the ice with the helmet on his head, an everlasting vision that is etched in every Rangers fan memory. That game against the Buffalo Sabres was filled with tears, smiles, and laughter.

For a short moment in time, everything was back to the way it was before the attacks began. The city cheered on it’s Rangers and for the time being put aside the sadness that had engulfed the city and country.

Martin St. Louis scores OT winner against Montreal

The spring of 2014 had a lot of magic in it. The magician and ring leader was none other than Martin St. Louis. The sniper fired a shot over the glove of Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski into the top corner to win Game 4 in OT. With that goal and win, the Rangers needed just one more victory to go to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Rangers would go on to defeat Montreal and appear in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994. Unfortunately, the MSL magic would fade at the worst time with the Los Angeles Kings winning the Championship four games to one. A cup lost but a fan favorite found even though he only played two seasons in New York. The blue-collar player was adored by the fans as a player who left it all on the ice game in a game out.

Marek Malik scores in the 15th shootout round in dazzling fashion

Defenseman Marek Malik had not scored a goal all season. Head coach Tom Renney was running out of players to put on the ice for the shootout and as the breakaway shootout continued passed the 14th round, Renney made a decision that would become a New York Rangers highlight for eternity.

Number 8 had his name called, and he didn’t disappoint. Malik skated straight down on Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig, put the puck in between his legs and flipped the puck over the goaltender into the back of the net for the win.

The Garden erupted and Malik cheered them as he skated back to the bench to celebrate with his teammates. An improbable goal from the least likely player to score, but what a moment in Rangers history.

The return of Eddie Giacomin

One of the toughest moments to witness was the return of Ed Giacomin. The goaltender was just acquired by the Detroit Red Wings a few days earlier after being placed on waivers by the Blueshirts. Eddie’s return to MSG seemed more like a home Detroit game than a road game in New York.

With chants of Eddie-Eddie-Eddie, Giacomin stood between the pipes of the visitor for the first time at the Garden. As the fans cheered for the first time visitor he had tears in his eyes and standing in the Rangers crease on the other side of the ice was none other than John Davidson.

Time heals all wounds and in 1989 Giacomin had his Rangers No. 1 jersey raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden and this time he cried in joy as the fans again chanted his name.

Matteau, Matteau Matteau

There may be no other name fans can relate to as Stephane Matteau. He scored the double-overtime winning goal in game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Championship game at the Garden that sent the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The goal was scored against New Jersey Devils rookie goaltender Martin Brodeur. Matteau picked up the puck to the right of the Devils goalie, took the puck around the net and completed a wrap-around goal that sent the city into a frenzy that hadn’t been seen since 1979 made it to the Cup Finals.

The Rangers faced off against the Vancouver Canucks, winning the Stanley Cup in an epic seven-game battle. If not for the hard play behind the Devils net, the outcome might have been different. Instead, Matteau and the Rangers erased a 54-year drought and earned their way up the Canyon of Heroes.

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A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at