Sunday, June 14, 2009
With a 3-2 victory on this date in 1994 the New York Rangers won one of the most memorable championships in NHL history. Ending a 54-year drought, something the New York Islanders fans were fond of pointing out with chants of "Nineteen-Forty! Nineteen-Forty!", the Rangers captured their fourth title in franchise history by defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the finals.
In a very momentous season, the Rangers hosted the NHL All-Star Game in January, won the President's Trophy for their regular season and went onto capture the Stanley Cup as well.
The Rangers were captained by Mark Messier and led in scoring by defenseman Sergei Zubov, with 89 points, while Adam Graves had the most goals with 52. The Rangers had many other contributors that season as well, including Brian Leetch, Steve Larmer, Alexi Kovalev, Esa Tikkanen, Sergei Nemchinov, Kevin Lowe and Jeff Beukeboom. Mike Richter and Glenn Healy shared the goaltending during the regular season, with Richter handling the vast majority of the playoff duties. Acquired during trades during the season, Stephane Matteau, Brian Noonan, Glenn Anderson and Craig MacTavish all played roles in the playoffs, with Matteau's goal in the second overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals being the most memorable.
The Canucks won Game 1 on the road in overtime to start the series and the Rangers came back to win Game 2 at home, as well as Games 3 & 4 in Vancouver to seemingly take control of the series with the next game back on home ice in New York. The Canucks had other plans however, taking the next two games to set up the dramatic seventh and deciding game at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead before Trevor Linden scored short-handed early in the second. Messier scored for the Rangers only to have Linden pull one back for the Canucks early in the third. Vancouver hit the post with five minutes left in the game and the Rangers held on to win the Stanley Cup. Leetch was not only named the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the first non-Canadian as well.
Today's jersey is a 1994 New York Rangers Brian Leetch jersey featuring the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals patch. This was the smallest size finals patch ever made, in deference to the Rangers needing to wear the patch on their shoulders due to the diagonal "Rangers" cresting across the front of the jersey taking up the space on the upper right chest where the patch is customarily worn.
Aside from the first time a Stanley Cup Finals patch was worn in 1989, when it was located on the upper left sleeves, this is the only instance of the finals patch not being worn on the upper right chest.
In a milestone side note, Zubov, Kovalev, Nemchinov and Alexander Karpovtsev became the first four Russian-trained players to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.