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Rangers` All-Star history a proud tradition

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers


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On Wednesday night in Dallas, Brendan Shanahan will become the 64th player to represent the Rangers at the NHL All-Star Game since it became an annual part of the NHL calendar 60 years ago.

If history is any indication, Shanahan could be in for a big evening. Rangers players have traditionally performed extremely well in All-Star Games, particularly during the 1990s, when the Blueshirts became the only team in NHL history to produce three different All-Star Game MVPs in the same decade.

Since the NHL began naming its official All-Star Game MVP in 1962, the Rangers have had four different players earn the honor, tying the Blueshirts with Montreal and Toronto for the league record.

Here is a look back at some All-Star Games in which Rangers players have had the biggest impact:

1940s

Only three NHL All-Star Games were played in the decade of the 1940s, beginning with the first annual game on Oct. 3, 1947. In that game, Edgar Laprade, Tony Leswick and Grant Warwick became the first Rangers to appear in one of the seannual events -- although Rangers players had appeared in earlier All-Star benefit games during the 1930s.

The All-Star format from 1947 to 1950 and from 1953-1968 matched up the defending Stanley Cup champion against the All-Stars from the league's other teams.

Warwick made some history in the inaugural game in 1947 , scoring the All-Stars' second goal to cut Toronto's lead to 3-2. The All-Stars went on to a 4-3 win.

The first truly dominant performance by a Rangers player in an All-Star Game came on Oct. 10, 1949, at Toronto, when Hall of Fame goaltender Chuck Rayner shut down the Maple Leafs over the final 31:30 to secure the All-Stars' 3-1 victory.

1950s

Two All-Star Games from the 1950s turned into showcases for Rangers players. The first was the Oct. 3, 1953, game in Montreal, where Wally Hergesheimer put on one of the greatest All-Star performances to that point in history.

Hergesheimer scored twice in the first 5:25, with both goals coming on the power play, to give the All-Stars an early 2-0 lead over the host Canadiens. His second goal stood up as the game-winner in a 3-1 victory. Paul Ronty, one of the Rangers' other All-Stars in that game, assisted on Hergesheimer's first goal at 4:06. Hergesheimer was also the only All-Star to score on Montreal's Gerry McNeill, since the game's final goal went into an empty net.

On Oct. 5, 1957, two other Rangers left their marks on the All-Star Game, as Andy Bathgate and Dean Prentice led the All-Stars to a 5-3 win over the Canadiens at the Montreal Forum.

Prentice had a three-point game for the All-Stars, while Bathgate chipped in two points. Prentice helped the All-Stars take a 2-1 lead with only five seconds remaining in the opening period when he set up Allan Stanley's goal. He then picked up a second assist on Bathgate's game-tying goal at 18:14 of the second period and finished off his night with an insurance goal, assisted by Bathgate, at 16:50.

1960s

As was the case in the 1950s, the Blueshirts had two moments of true All-Star glory during the 1960s, and they happened to occur in the decade's first and last games.

On Oct. 1, 1960, Rangers teammates Andy Hebenton and Red Sullivan stole the show in Montreal, leading the All-Stars to a 2-1 win over a Canadiens team that was coming off a record five straight Stanley Cup championships. Sullivan set up Hebenton at 15:51 of the second period, snapping a 1-1 tie. That goal stood up as the game-winner for the All-Stars.

The Rangers' other big All-Star Gamein the 1960s came on Jan. 21, 1969, at Montreal in the first game played under an inter-conference format. Representing the Rangers were Ed Giacomin, Bob Nevin and Rod Gilbert. All three had previously played in All-Star Games, but neither Nevin nor Gilbert had ever cracked the scoresheet, and Giacomin had been part two losing efforts. That would all change in a big way in 1969.

Giacomin played the first and third periods, allowing only one goal to help the East gain a 3-3 tie with the West. Meanwhile, Gilbert picked up his first All-Star point with an assist on Frank Mahovlich's goal at 3:11 of the third period, pulling the East into a 2-2 tie. Nevin then notched a go-ahead goal at 7:20 of the third period, although the West came back with a late goal to salvage the tie.

1970s

The Rangers teams of the early 1970s were among the best in franchise history, and it's no coincidence that the decade's first four All-Star Games were fueled by Rangers talent.

On Jan. 20, 1970, in St. Louis, six members of the East team were Rangers, and two of them -- Giacomin and Walt Tkaczuk -- played a big role in the East's 4-1 win. Giacomin allowed only one goal over the game's first 29:37 to earn the victory, while Tkaczuk scored at 9:37 of the second period to give the East its final goal.

One year later, on Jan. 19, 1971, the Rangers again sent six players to the All-Star Game in Boston, including both of their goaltenders. Giacomin and Gilles Villemure came up short in a 2-1 loss that year, but they combined to stop 26 shots. Villemure was particularly sharp, refusing to allow a goal in 29:19 of action. Another Ranger, Dave Balon, registered an assist on the East's lone goal, scored by Yvan Cournoyer at 6:19 of the opening period.

The game on Jan. 25, 1972, in Minnesota marked the third straight year that six Rangers had participated -- the most All-Stars ever produced by the team over a three-year stretch. Four of the five Blueshirts skaters figured in the scoring, and Villemure earned the 3-2 victory by shutting out the West over the game's final 29:36.

Trailing 2-0, the East got on the board when Jean Ratelle scored his first All-Star goal at 3:48 of the second period with an assist from his GAG Line linemate Gilbert. Late in the second period, the East tied the game 2-2 on a goal by John McKenzie. Assisting on the goal were Rangers defensemen Brad Park and Rod Seiling.

The last truly great moment for the Rangers at an All-Star Game in the 1970s came on Jan. 30, 1973, at Madison Square Garden, when an East team featuring four Blueshirts beat the West 5-4. This time it was Giacomin getting the win in relief of Villemure, who gave up only one goal in the game's first 29:16.

Park helped get the East on the board at 3:56 of the second period, when he picked up the lone assist on a goal by Buffalo's Rene Robert. The MSG thriller was won by Boston's Bobby Schmautz, who scored with only 6:01 remaining in the game.

1980s

The early 1980s were a strong period for Rangers at the NHL All-Star Game, featuring the team's first All-Star MVP.

The Rangers' 1980s All-Star success got off to a grand start on Feb. 10, 1981, at Los Angeles, when unlikely All-Star hero Eddie Johnstone played a huge role in the Campbell Conference's 4-1 win. Johnstone picked up the lone assist on Bill Barber's shorthanded game-winner at 8:02 of the first period. That goal gave the Campbells a 2-0 lead. Johnstone added another assist on an insurance goal by Wayne Babych, making it 3-0 at 16:12 of the middle period.

On Feb. 9, 1982, the Rangers had another major All-Star moment at the Capital Center in Landover, Md., when defenseman Barry Beck set up the game-winning goal by Mike Bossy at 17:10 of the second period -- a goal that snapped a 2-2 tie. It was a rare instance of Rangers-Islanders co-operation in a time when the rivalry between the teams was as intense as ever. By then, both the Rangers and Islanders had moved into the Wales Conference, which went on to a 4-2 win.

By far, the greatest Rangers moment of the 1980s came courtesy of Don Maloney, who turned in an unforgettable MVP performance on Jan. 31, 1984, across the river at the Meadowlands. The future Rangers Vice-President of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager scored four points that day to lead the Wales Conference to a 7-6 win over the Campbell Conference.

Maloney had scored a goal the year before in the All-Star Game on Long Island, but nobody could have predicted what would happen for him in 1984. Thanks to some help from Rangers' teammate Pierre Larouche, who had two goals and one assist on the afternoon, Maloney became the first Rangers player to win the MVP award since it was established 22 years earlier.

Maloney's big day began when he picked up the primary assist on Mats Naslund's goal at 16:40 of the opening period, giving the Wales Conference a 4-0 lead. He then gained assists on two straight goals by Larouche. The first goal, at 17:14 of the opening period, gave his team a 5-0 lead, and the second made it 6-3 at 5:51 of the first.

Saving his best for last, Maloney notched the eventual game-winning goal at 7:24 of the third period. Although the lead was 7-3 at the time, Maloney's goal proved crucial in protecting the Wales Conference from a late Campbell comeback.

1990s


MVP Mike Richter joined Adam Graves, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch at the 1994 All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers players were never better in the All-Star Game than in the 1990s, when they won three MVP awards and were key members of the winning team for six straight years.

The run of excellence began on Feb. 6, 1993, in Montreal. The Rangers sent two players to the Forum that day, and one of would come away with the team record for points in one All-Star Game as well as a share of the NHL record for goals in one game.

Mike Gartner was certainly the man of the hour at the Forum. He scored hat trick in the first period and finished the day as only the fourth player in NHL history to score four times in one All-Star Game.

Gartner began his scoring rampage with the game's first goal, assisted by Rangers teammate Kevin Lowe, at 3:15 of the opening period. Only 22 seconds later, he scored again, giving him what remains the All-Star record for the fastest two goals by one player from the start of a game. Gartner then picked up an assist on a goal by Peter Bondra just 46 seconds after his second goal, and completed his hat trick at 13:22 of the first to make it 6-0.

Gartner's historic fourth goal came at 3:33 of the second period, putting Wales Conference up 8-0 lead en route to their 16-6 win in one of the wildest All-Star Games ever. Gartner was an easy choice for MVP -- the first Ranger to win the award in nine years.

One year after Gartner worked his magic, the Rangers hosted the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 22, 1994. That afternoon turned into a showcase for Blueshirts goalie Mike Richter, who stopped 19 of 21 shots in the second period to earn MVP honors in a 9-8 win for the Eastern Conference. That made Gartner and Richter only the second pair of players from the same NHL team to win MVP honors in back-to-back years. The only other time it had happened was for Toronto teammates Eddie Shack and Frank Mahovlich in 1962 and 1963.

Supplying some of the offense for Richter that day were Rangers teammates Mark Messier and Adam Graves. Messier had three points, while Graves added two. Messier, the Eastern Conference captain, scored off an assist from Graves at 15:05 of the second period to cut the West's lead to 6-5. He then teamed up with Graves to set up a goal by Joey Mullen at 1:28 of the third period.

Messier closed his big game with the lone assist on Bob Kudelski's tying goal with 6:01 left in regulation. That set the stage for Alexei Yashin's game-winner just over two minutes later.

On Jan. 20, 1996, three Rangers were part of the Eastern Conference All-Stars' dramatic 5-4 win at Boston, and all three figured in the scoring. Defenseman Brian Leetch helped get the East off to a fast start when he set up Eric Lindros' goal at 11:05 of the opening period, and forward Pat Verbeek made it 2-0 just under three minutes later.

The biggest points from the Rangers came with only 38 seconds left in the game, when Messier and Verbeek assisted on Ray Bourque's winning goal -- a moment that clinched MVP honors for hometown hero Bourque.


Wayne Gretzky went out a winner at the 1999 NHL All-Star Game.
The NHL All-Star Game on Jan. 18, 1997, turned into the Mark Messier Show, as the Rangers captain led the Eastern Conference to an 11-7 victory in San Jose. Messier assisted on two goals by Mark Recchi and also scored one of his own, picking up three points. Also contributing an assist in the game was the Rangers' Wayne Gretzky, playing in his first All-Star Game as a member of the Blueshirts.

Gretzky would have two more strong All-Star efforts as a Rangers representative. On Jan. 18, 1998, in Vancouver, The Great One assisted on two goals, including the game-winner for the North American All-Stars, who beat the World All-Stars 8-7. He had the lone assist on a goal by Messier (then with Vancouver) to give his team a commanding 8-5 lead early in the third period.

In his final All-Star Game, on Jan. 24, 1999, at Tampa, Gretzky again did the Rangers organization proud as their lone representative. As captain of the North American All-Stars, Gretzky had a goal and two assists that afternoon, leading his team to an 8-6 win. Fittingly, he was named the game's MVP.
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