Wednesday, April 14, 2010
On this date in 1928, in only their second year of existence, the New York Rangers won the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 defeat of the Montreal Maroons, becoming the first NHL franchise based in the United States to win the cup, and only the second American club to win the cup after the 1916-17 Seattle Metropolitans.
After the success of the New York Americans, who were founded in 1925, Madison Square Garden president Tex Rickard wanted a team of his own. He was granted a franchise for the 1926-27 season, which was named the Rangers. He originally hired Conn Smythe to run the team, but after Smythe had a falling out with John S. Hammond, who ran the team for Rickard, Lester Patrick was hired to be both the coach and general manager.
The Rangers won the American Division during their first season, but were defeated by the Boston Bruins in the semifinals 3 goals to 1 in their two-game, total-goal series.
While the Rangers finished second in the American Division in 1927-28, they first knocked out the Pittsburgh Pirates 6 goals to 4 and then got their revenge on the Bruins 5 goals to 2 to advance to face the winner of the Canadian Division playoffs, the Montreal Maroons, in a best-of-five series.
The Rangers were led by Frank Boucher, who was third in league scoring with 23 goals and 35 points, Bun Cook (28 points) and his brother Bill Cook (24 points) and Lorne Chabot in goal.
The Rangers were unable to host the series however, due to the circus being booked into Madison Square Garden. As a result, all games were played in the Montreal Forum.
Game One went to the Maroons by a score of 2-0, with Clint Benedict of the Maroons earning the shutout.
Game Two provided one of the most unusual events in NHL history, when Nels Stewart of the Maroons fired a hard shot that struck Rangers goalie Chabot in the eye, knocking him out of the game. Maroons coach Eddie Gerard refused to let the Rangers use either Ottawa Senators goalie Alex Connell or minor leaguer Hugh McCormick, both of whom were in attendance watching the contest, forcing the Rangers coach Patrick to put the pads on and take over in goal after a 40 minute delay - at age 44.
He told his squad, "Boys, don't let an old man down" and proceeded to hold the Maroons to a single goal as the Rangers came through for their boss, checking the Maroons like mad, doing everything in their power to keep them as far away from their goaltender as possible. Bill Cook put the Rangers up 1-0 just 30 seconds into the third period before Stewart tied it with a goal for Montreal with a long shot that made in between Patrick's pads with less than six minutes remaining. Boucher then scored the game winning goal in overtime to give New York a 2-1 win to even the series at a game apiece as the Rangers carried a tearful Patrick off the ice on their shoulders in celebration. Patrick's appearance set a record for the oldest person to play in the Stanley Cup Finals at 44 years, 3 months and 10 days, a record which still stands today.
For the remaining games, the Rangers employed Joe Miller of the New York Americans to tend goal.
The Maroons went back on top with another 2-0 win in Game 3 and the Rangers fought back in Game 4 with a 1-0 squeaker to force a fifth and deciding game on this date in 1928.
The Rangers prevailed in the low scoring series with another nail-biter, this time by a 2-1 score to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup.
Today's featured jersey is a 1927-28 New York Rangers Lester Patrick jersey. The Rangers began their first season with blue sweaters with white letters and changed to red lettering for their second, Stanley Cup winning season.
The following year they outlined the red letters with white, setting the standard that would remain in effect to this day.
The Rangers would win the Stanley Cup again in 1933, and here Canadian broadcasting legend Foster Hewitt interviews members of the Rangers, including Lester Patrick.