The New York Rangers joined the National Hockey League in 1926, under the aegis of Tex Rickard, the president of Madison Square Garden, who wanted his own team after the New York Americans drew big crowds to his arena. Rickard intended to name the team the New York Giants, but the press nicknamed the team "Tex's Rangers," the name stuck and the New York Rangers were born.
The Rangers won the American Division in their first year and went on to win the Stanley Cup in only their second season in 1927-28, beating the Montreal Maroons 3 games to 2 -- sparked by a heroic goaltending stint by coach-GM Lester Patrick in Game 2. The players became celebrities during New York's "Roaring 20s" and with the Garden located on 48th Street, only a few blocks away from Times Square, the Rangers soon became known as the "Broadway Blueshirts."
The Rangers found more success in the 1928-29 season, but fell short in the Final against the Bruins. After a difficult start to the 1930s, the Rangers brought the Cup back to New York in 1933 when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3 games to 1. Seven years later, the Rangers won thei third Cup in franchise history when they beat the Leafs again, this time winning a six-game series on Bryan Hextall's overtime goal at Maple Leaf Gardens.
World War II decimated the Rangers, who lost a seven-game Cup Final to Detroit in 1950 and didn't make the title round again until 1972, when a club led by the "GAG Line" of Jean Ratelle, Rod Gilbert and Vic Hadfield fell to Boston. The Rangers lost a five-game Final to Montreal in 1979, then had to watch the upstart Islanders win four consecutive Cups -- two of which included victories over the Rangers. The Blueshirts finally ended an NHL-record 54-year drought in 1994 by beating Vancouver in seven games. That team was led by 52-goal scorer Adam Graves, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brian Leetch and captain Mark Messier, who scored what proved to be the Cup-winning goal.
The Rangers made it back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997, falling to Philadelphia, but have struggled since then, going seven years in a row without a playoff berth until 2005-06. They made the postseason for four years running after the work stoppage, but came up short last April by losing 2-1 in a shootout at Philadelphia on the final day of the regular season.