October 10, 2010

New York Rangers' 85th Anniversary

While the Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres are celebrating their 40th anniversary in the National Hockey League, the New York Rangers have them both beat. The Rangers are celebrating their 85th anniversary this season.

The Rangers won their very first game by a score of 1-0 over the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons way back on November 16th, 1926. Bill Cook (pictured below), on a pass from brother Bun Cook, scored the only goal of the game, with less than 2 minutes left in the 2nd period. Hal Winkler got the shutout, with Clint Benedict at the other end of the ice.

There is no footage available on YouTube, but the Montreal Gazette does have an article, courtesy of Google News Archives.

The game was described as "rather rough and loosely played." Rather rough? 18 penalties were assessed, most notably featuring a stick fight between Montreal's Bat Phillips and NYR's Frank Boucher, who was bloodied in the melee. Both were immediately assessed 5 minute majors and $15 fines! Of all the players in the game, these two may have been the most unlikely combatants, especially Boucher who would go on to win the Lady Byng trophy for gentlemanly play 7 times in 8 years from 1928 through 1935.

A reported 13,000 people entered Madison Square Gardens (the old Gardens had a capacity of 15,000 for hockey) for the inaugural Rangers game. The New York elite were out in full force, as the game played in aid of the Grosvenor Neighborhood House.

Silent movie star Lois Moran took part in the pre-game ceremonies, while the West Point Band entertained the crowd during intermissions.

Of course, the National Hockey League was not exactly new to New York. The New York Americans began playing in the NHL the season prior.

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