The beloved New York Rangers came together in 1926 when “Tex” Rickard, president of Madison Square Garden, decided that one New York hockey team just wasn’t enough. The Rangers were an expansion team in addition to the New York Americans at the time. The Americans played at Madison Square Garden but weren’t owned by the facility. To form a team that could compete with the Americans, Rickard asked Conn Smythe, a hockey guru, to leave the University of Toronto to gather the best hockey players he could find in North America.
The Rangers’ name came about when the media heard that Smythe was gathering together an army of great hockey players. The media dubbed the team “Tex’s Rangers,” and the name stuck. After all the hard work putting together a team, Smythe left before the season could even start due to several disagreements with Garden management. However, that didn’t stop Rickard from getting his team ready for the 1926-1927 season.
The early success of the team was partly due to Smythe’s work but was more so a product of Lester Patrick, the new coach for the New York Rangers. No other team had won a Stanley Cup title in its first two seasons. Not only did the Rangers win the Stanley Cup during their second season, but they also made it to the finals four times in their first seven years. The Rangers have made it to the finals 11 times, and they own four Stanley Cup trophies from 1928, 1933, 1940, and 1994.
Brian Leetch played for 18 NHL seasons and was with the Rangers from 1987 to 2003. The Rangers drafted Leetch ninth overall, who was considered the league’s best rookie after putting up 23 goals and 48 assists his rookie season. Over the course of his career, Leetch was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, Lester Patrick Trophy, and the James Norris Memorial Trophy twice. As one of only 10 American ice hockey men’s players, Leetch competed in the Winter Olympic Winter Games three times.
One of the all-time leading NHL scorers was Rangers’ Mark Messier. Messier was nicknamed “the Moose” for his size and determination and was added to the Rangers’ roster when he was traded from the Edmonton Oilers before to the 1991-1992 season. Leading the Rangers to win the Stanley Cup in 1994, Messier is the only captain in NHL history to lead two different organizations to a Stanley Cup win.
Rod Gilbert, No. 7, was the first Rangers player to have his jersey retired. After a lengthy career (1962–1978), Gilbert was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. During his career, the right winger was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy as well as the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his persistence.
Notable Jersey Changes
1928: The Rangers win their first Stanley Cup title this year in their dominant blue jerseys. Tex Rickard, the owner, makes sure that the Rangers stand apart from the Americans by placing the word “Rangers” diagonally across their jerseys, unlike the Americans who have their name horizontally on their jerseys.
1942: The team keeps the same concept as the 1928 style. However, the uniforms start to look more like jerseys rather than sweaters.
1946: This year, the Rangers go with a different placement of their name. Instead of having the name diagonal on the jersey, “Rangers” is now placed in a semi-circle above the players’ numbers.
1959: The jersey is changed to a lace-up jersey, and the name is back to its original placement. With the name now back to being diagonal, the players’ numbers are moved to both arms.
1972: Blue changes to white on the jersey. The team continues with the lace-up design but adds a large blue stripe to the shoulder with two white stripes and one red stripe featured on either side. The numbers are kept on both arms.
1977: Again, the placement of the name is changed on the front of the jersey. The Rangers add a crest on the front with “New York” on top and “Rangers” diagonally across. The jerseys drift away from the lace-up concept, and blue is added to the top of the arms and shoulders with a red strip breaking up the white and blue coloring.
1994: The Rangers keep changing the name placement on the jerseys, but always go back to the original diagonal look. Instead of having blue on the entire sleeve, the blue is moved to the bottom of the sleeve – leaving the jersey predominantly white.
2008: Back to the blue! The Rangers switch up the jerseys by replacing the white with blue, leaving the name diagonally across the jerseys.
Do you want to join in on the Broadway Blueshirts’ history? Head over to Fanatics.com to pick up a Rangers jersey of your own!