Monday, March 15, 2010

1968-69 New York Rangers Ed Giacomin Jersey

On this date in 1989, the New York Rangers retired sweater #1 in honor of goaltender Ed Giacomin.

Giacomin, overcoming serious burns suffered in a kitchen accident as a teenager when a stove exploded, played five seasons for the Providence Reds of the American Hockey League to start his professional career.

Giacomin Providence Reds photo GiacominProvidenceReds.jpg
Giacomin with the Providence Reds

He then made his NHL debut with the New York Rangers in 1965-66 and led the NHL in shutouts with nine during his second season, helping the Rangers make the playoffs for only the second time in nine seasons.

Giacomin Rangers photo GiacominRangersnomask.jpg
Giacomin led the NHL in shutouts in 1966-67

Once established as the Rangers starting goaltender, Giacomin would lead the league in games played for the next four seasons, seeing action in between 66 and 70 games while winning 30 games or more each of those four seasons with a high of 37 in 1968-69 and leading the NHL in shutouts again in 1967 with nine and 1968 with eight.

With the acceptance of goalies in the NHL sharing the duty now becoming the norm, Giacomin's games played would shrink to the mid 40's starting in 1970, but he would still lead the league in shutouts in 1971 with eight on his way to winning the Vezina Trophy along with partner Gilles Villemure.

The following season the Rangers would enjoy their greatest playoff success of Giacomin's career, making it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Giacomin Rangers photo GiacominRangers.jpg
Giacomin joined the legions of goalies now wearing
masks after starting his NHL career playing without one

Giacomin was limited by injuries in 1974-75, limiting him to just 37 games and 13 wins, his first time under 24 wins since becoming the starter in 1966-67. As a result, the Rangers, off to a bad start, began dumping their high priced veterans, which included waiving Giacomin, who was claimed by the Detroit Red Wings.

 photo GiacominRedWings.jpg
Giacomin was claimed by Detroit early in the 1975-76 season

Giacomin's return to New York was an emotional one, as the Rangers fans chanted "Ed-die! Ed-die!", drowning out even the national anthem, a game that was voted one of the Top 50 moments in Madison Square Garden history, not just Rangers history, but all events at MSG, which include Elvis Presley and other concerts, legendary boxing matches, NBA and college basketball, political conventions and an appearance by the Pope.

He would finish his career by playing two seasons plus an additional nine games in 1977-78 with the Red Wings before retiring in January of 1978 with 609 games and a record of 289-209-96 and 54 shutouts and a goals against average of 2.82.

Giacomin played in the NHL All-Star Game six times, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987 and his sweater #1, retired on this date in 1989, was only the second number retired by the Rangers in their 64 year history.

Today's featured jersey is a 1968-69 New York Rangers Ed Giacomin jersey as worn during the season he recorded his highest NHL win total of 37 games.

The Rangers diagonal crest dates back to their first season in the NHL in 1926-27 and changed to the current font in 1941 with the drop shadow first being added the following season. This particular style with the lace-up collar was first used in 1951 with sleeve numbers arriving in 1963.

After a radical change in style in 1976 and a return to a more traditional style which read "New York" on the front in 1978, the Rangers name returned to the blue jerseys in 1987 and this style with the lace up collar was reinstated in 1997 and remains in use today.

photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video segment begins with the excellent Legends of Hockey profile on Giacomin which includes footage of his jersey retirement ceremony.

Here's evidence of the combative nature Giacomin possessed referred to by Stan Fischler in the previous video, as he goes after Garry Howatt of the Islanders. It's also an example of the "Ed-die! Ed-die!" chant that used to fill Madison Square Garden.

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