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MSG Network turns clock back to 1976 tonight

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Few Rangers rookies have ever burst into the limelight like Don Murdoch.

Nearly 30 years ago, in his first NHL game, Murdoch made a tremendous splash in the Rangers' 1976-77 season opener at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 6, 1976. His performance that night against the Minnesota North Stars set the stage for a brilliant rookie season that put him in the running for the Calder Trophy and helped him tie the team's former record for goals by a rookie.

Unfortunately, Murdoch's effort came in an era long before the advent of 24-hour sports networks or the Internet. And until now, the only Rangers fans who actually saw Murdoch's first game were those at the Garden that night or at home watching the broadcast on HBO during the infancy of cable television.

But tonight at 8 p.m., MSG Network viewers get a rare chance to see the third period of that 1976-77 season opener all over again, as part of a new show called Al Trautwig's MSG Vault.

To prepare this new show, MSG Network researchers went through 90,000 archival videotapes of games and events from Madison Square Garden's past. Tonight's premiere episode focuses on the year 1976. In addition to the Rangers-North Stars game, Trautwig will look at a 1976 NBA preseason game between the New York Knicks and New York Nets, who had just crossed over from the former American Basketball Association.

The Oct. 6, 1976, game being shown tonight features a goaltending matchup between the North Stars' Gary Smith and the Rangers' Gilles Gratton. Rangers legends who played in the game included Rod Gilbert, Walt Tkaczuk, Steve Vickers, Phil Esposito, Dave Maloney, Ron Greschner and Pete Stemkowski. It's a classic bit of Rangers history no Blueshirts fan will want to miss.

Al Trautwig's MSG Vault will air at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on Sunday nights. Upcoming Rangers content includes a look back at the 1978 playoffs as well as key regular-season games from the 1974-75 season.

For more information on this new program, see:
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