Ask modern day New York Ranger fans who was the best Ranger of all time you are likely to hear names like Rod Gilbert, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Ed Giacomin or Mark Messier.
To those old enough or smart enough to take a wide view, many will say that person was Andy Bathgate.
Andy Bathgate, a legendary Ranger and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame died on February 26 at age 83.
Bathgate scored 349 goals and 973 points in 1,069 NHL games with the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks. He was the first Ranger to score 40 goals.
He is also famous for being, in part, for Jacques Plante donning a goaler’s face mask for the first time.
Later in his career (1964) he won his only Stanley Cup as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Playing with the Rangers for 12-plus seasons, Bathgate was named to the all-N.H.L. squad four times in an era when his rival right wings included the brilliant Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion of the Montreal Canadiens, Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings and Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to an obituary in the New York Times, although a Ranger mainstay along with his fellow Hall of Famers Harry Howell, on defense, and Gump Worsley, in goal, he was hardly a New York celebrity.
“I’m very seldom recognized on the streets,” he told Sports Illustrated in January 1959, when he appeared on its cover. “It’s different in Toronto and Montreal, but then hockey is the big sport there. People have so many other things to do in New York.”