New York Rangers President Glen Sather announced today that the organization will retire jersey No. 19 in honor of Rangers great Jean Ratelle in an on-ice ceremony prior to the Rangers' game against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, February 25, 2018 as part of Jean Ratelle Night presented by Chase.
"Jean Ratelle is truly one of the greatest players to have ever played for the New York Rangers," Sather said. "Few players have demonstrated the class, dignity, and gracefulness that Jean possessed throughout his career, both on and off the ice. I had the good fortune to call Jean a teammate with the Rangers, I am proud to still call Jean a friend, and I am honored to announce that he will take his rightful place in the rafters of Madison Square Garden."
Ratelle played parts of 16 seasons with the Rangers (1960-61 - 1975-76), registering 336 goals and 481 assists for 817 points, along with a plus-167 rating in 861 games. He ranks second on the Rangers' all-time goals list, ranks third on the franchise's all-time assists list and all-time points list, and ranks sixth in career games played with the Blueshirts. Ratelle and Rod Gilbert are the only players who rank third or higher on the Rangers' all-time lists for goals, assists, and points. In addition, Ratelle is one of only five players in franchise history who played in parts of 16 or more seasons with the Rangers (along with Gilbert, Harry Howell, Brian Leetch, and Ron Greschner).
During his tenure with the Rangers, Ratelle was the recipient of the team's Most Valuable Player Award twice (1971-72 and 1972-73), the Players' Player Award five times (1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1974-75), and the Frank Boucher Trophy as the team's most popular player on and off the ice (as selected by the Rangers Fan Club) twice (1971-72 and 1972-73). He ranked 10th or higher in the NHL in goals three times (1967-68, 1971-72, 1972-73), assists three times (1967-68, 1969-70, 1971-72), and points five times (1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1971-72, 1972-73) during his Rangers tenure. He also registered 30 or more goals in more seasons than any other player in franchise history (six). Ratelle recorded the final goal at the 'Old Garden' (MSG III) in a 3-3 tie against Detroit on February 11, 1968, and he took the first faceoff for the Rangers at the current MSG (MSG IV) on February 18, 1968 against Philadelphia.
Ratelle was the center on the Rangers' famous Goal-A-Game Line (G-A-G Line) with left wing Vic Hadfield and right wing Rod Gilbert. During the 1971-72 season, Ratelle, Hadfield, and Gilbert ranked third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in the NHL in points during the regular season. Ratelle tallied 109 points (46 goals, 63 assists) and posted a plus-61 rating in 63 games during the 1971-72 season, becoming the first Ranger to tally 100 points in a season (along with Hadfield) and establishing a single-season franchise record for points. Ratelle received the Lester B. Pearson Award (since renamed the Ted Lindsay Award) as the NHL's Most Outstanding Player as selected by the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) in 1971-72, as well as the Lady Byng Trophy for being the player "adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."
Ratelle played in parts of 21 NHL seasons with the Rangers and Bruins, registering 491 goals and 776 assists for 1,267 points, along with a plus-295 rating in 1,280 games. A five-time NHL All-Star, Ratelle was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985, and in 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players. Ratelle is the only player in NHL history who tallied at least 1,200 career points while amassing fewer than 300 career penalty minutes. Ratelle received the Lady Byng Trophy twice in his NHL career (1971-72 and 1975-76), and he also received the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey," in 1970-71.
Ratelle will join Rod Gilbert (7), Ed Giacomin (1), Mike Richter (35), Mark Messier (11), Brian Leetch (2), Adam Graves (9), Andy Bathgate (9), and Harry Howell (3) as the only Rangers whose jersey numbers have been retired by the organization. Gilbert was the first Ranger to have his number retired on Oct. 14, 1979, and was joined by Giacomin's No. 1 on Mar. 15, 1989, Richter's No. 35 on Feb. 4, 2004, Messier's No. 11 on Jan. 12, 2006, Leetch's No. 2 on Jan. 24, 2008, Graves' No. 9 on Feb. 3, 2009, and most recently, Bathgate's No. 9 and Howell's No. 3 on Feb. 22, 2009. In addition, Ratelle's jersey number will be among nine New York Knickerbockers that have been remembered in the ceiling of The World's Most Famous Arena. Former Knicks players Walt Frazier (10), Dick Barnett (12), Earl Monroe (15), Dick McGuire (15), Willis Reed (19), Dave DeBusschere (22), Bill Bradley (24), and most recently Patrick Ewing (33) have all had their numbers honored by the team, along with Hall-of-Fame coach Red Holzman (613).