Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Long time New York Ranger Walt Tkaczuk was born on this date in Emsdetten, Germany. He learned the game of hockey while being raised in Canada after his family emigrated when Walt was two.
He first played with the Kitchener Rangers in 1963 and began to dominate play in 1966-67 with 70 points in 48 games and backed that up with 93 in 52 games in 1967-68, setting himself on the patch to the NHL with a pair of games with New York that same season.
Tkaczuk established himself as a strong two-way player and became a member of "The Bulldog Line" with Bill Fairburn and Dave Balon and later Steve Vickers.
After a rookie campaign in which he scored 36 points, Tkaczuk set a career high in only his second season with 27 goals and 50 assists for 77 points, showing himself to be a good playmaker. He again topped 70 points in 1970-71 with 75 points. While his point total dropped to 66 in 1971-72, he made his first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals and contributed 10 points in 16 playoff games while holding the NHL's leading scorer Phil Esposito without a goal in the finals.
Tkaczuk and Esposito
Seasons of 66 and 63 points gave him five consecutive over 60 as he became a team leader on the Rangers with a reputation for his faceoff skills and ability to shut down opposing forwards. After a couple of down years offensively, he rebounded with 50 points in 1976-77 and 66 in 1977-78 before another trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1979, only to run into the Montreal Canadiens dynasty of the late 1970's.
Tkaczuk in the short-lived Rangers jerseys of 1976-1978
Tkaczuk would play two more seasons with the Rangers prior to retiring halfway through the 1980-81 season after a serious eye injury.
His final point totals after 945 games were 227 goals and 451 points for 678 points with another 51 points in 93 playoff games.
Today's featured jersey is a 1969-70 New York Rangers Walt Tkaczuk jersey. While it may be difficult to see without the laces, this jersey, which was first worn in 1963, sported a tie-up collar.
This particular jersey is from the 1969-70 season when Tkaczuk had the best offensive season of his career prior to the Rangers using names on the back of their jerseys in 1978.
Our video today is a peek at the Rangers/Bruins rivalry from the 1970 playoffs with Tkaczuk involved from the same season as today's featured jersey.