Sunday, March 21, 2010
On this date in 1977, Jean Ratelle, then of the Boston Bruins, played in his 1,000th NHL game.
Ratelle was originally a member of the New York Rangers and made his NHL debut in the 1960-61 season, getting into three games. He suffered a serious back injury during that time period and had to have major spinal cord surgery, but recovered to return to the NHL.
After splitting time between the Rangers and the Baltimore Clippers of the American Hockey League from 1962-63 to 1964-65, Ratelle became a full time Ranger in 1965-66 and by 1967-68 established himself as a regular 30 goal, 70 point scorer and would be named the winner the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1971.
As a member of the "GAG Line" (which stood for "Goal A Game") in the late 60's and early 70's, with left wing and team captain Vic Hadfield and right wing Rod Gilbert, Ratelle hit a career highs in 1971-72 with 46 goals and 109 points, which remained the Rangers team record for 34 years.
The GAG Line, Hadfield, Ratelle and Gilbert
Additionally, he would win both the Lady Byng Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Trophy that season as well as competing for Team Canada in the famous 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
After scoring over 90 points two out of the next three seasons, Ratelle was dealt to the Boston Bruins in one of the biggest trades in NHL history, that sent Ratelle, Brad Park and Joe Zanussi in exchange for Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais.
He excelled in Boston, scoring 90 points in just 67 games and finished with a combined 105 points that season. He would play six seasons in Boston, winning his second Lady Byng Trophy in 1976, scoring his 1,000th point on April 3, 1977 and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals twice, in 1977 and 1978. Ratelle would score over 70 points five times in his six seasons in Boston before retiring in 1981 as the NHL's sixth all-time leading scorer.
His final career totals were 1281 games over 21 seasons, scoring 491 goals and 776 assists for 1267 points. Of those 21 seasons, Ratelle scored over 70 points 12 times. Additionally, he played in 132 playoff games, scoring 32 goals and 98 points and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.
Today's featured jersey is a 1980 NHL All-Star Game Jean Ratelle jersey as worn in the game played in Detroit. It was the fifth and final All-Star Game of Ratelle's career. Ratelle had an assist in the game on a goal by Craig Hartsburg in a 6-3 winning effort by the Wales Conference.
First in today's video segment, a profile of the GAG Line, with Ratelle and linemates Hadfiled and Gilbert.
Here is footage of the overtime of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1978 with Ratelle's Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. The two teams alone had rosters to loaded with talent it might as well have been an All-Star Game.