|The dominating line of Bill Cook (left), Frank Boucher (center) and Fred "Bun" Cook combined for 21 regular-season hat tricks between 1926 and 1935. |
Some 36 days from today, the Rangers will begin their 81st season in the NHL when they play the Oct. 4 season-opener against Florida at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers and their fans have seen just about everything in the past 80 years of hockey, but there's one fairly significant event that has never happened:
No Blueshirts player has ever scored a hat trick in a season-opener.
It nearly transpired last year, when Brendan Shanahan
scored twice, including his 600th career NHL goal, in a 5-2 rout of Washington. Instead, Shanahan joined a long list of past Rangers who have flirted with hat tricks on opening night, only to come up short.
The second game of the season is another story, because the first hat trick in all of Rangers history was actually scored in Game 2 of the inaugural 1926-27 season. Legendary Bill Cook
, the original Rangers captain who still holds the team record of 11 career hat tricks, notched three goals in Toronto on Nov. 20, 1926, as the Blueshirts beat the St. Pats (the team now called the Maple Leafs) by a 5-1 score.
Ironically, the victim of the first Rangers hat trick was Toronto goaltender John Ross Roach
, who would later come to New York and set the team's single-season record of 13 shutouts in 1928-29. Roach was not alone, however, because some of the biggest names in Rangers goaltending history have also given up hat tricks against the Blueshirts – a list that includes Lorne Chabot
, "Sugar" Jim Henry
, Chuck Rayner
, Emile Francis
, Johnny Bower
and John Vanbiesbrouck
There's something undeniably special about seeing a player score three goals in one game, and Rangers fans have had an opportunity to throw their hats on the ice many times since 1926. In all, the Rangers have had 238 regular-season and 14 postseason hat tricks in their history – an average of just under three per season. In the regular season, 104 different players have scored a hat trick, led by Cook's 11, and 12 different players have done it in the postseason, led by Mike Gartner
and Wayne Gretzky
with two apiece.
We went through the Blueshirts' history, game-by-game, to come up with the most comprehensive list of Rangers hat tricks ever published online. The list speaks volumes about the team's rich past, as it is loaded with Hall of Famers and more obscure fan favorites from the last eight decades. You'll find the full list here
, but before combing through it, consider some of the interesting hat-trick specific Rangers records that we were able to determine from this research:
| In 1986-87, the Rangers set a team record for most hat tricks in one season when Tony McKegney, Walt Poddubny, Mike Ridley, Kelly Kisio, Tomas Sandstrom and Pierre Larouche teamed up for 10 hat tricks. Sandstrom led the way with four, which stands as the team's individual record for hat tricks in one season. |
There have been 25 four-goal games recorded by Rangers players, including the team-record five-goal performances by Don Murdoch in 1976 and Mark Pavelich in 1983. Rod Gilbert has the most four-goal games, having achieved the mark four times in his Hall of Fame career.
Rangers players have both registered multiple hat tricks in the same game twice. The first time was on March 29, 1967, when Gilbert and Donnie Marshall each scored three times in a 10-5 crushing of Detroit at The Garden. The other time it happened was on March 24, 1978, in Washington, when rookie Ron Duguay and veteran Phil Esposito did it in an 11-4 win over the Caps.
The most consecutive games with at least one hat trick is three – a record established by Mike Rogers, Pavelich and Rob McClanahan in November 1982. The streak nearly hit four games when Duguay tallied twice in a 3-0 win over the Islanders on Nov. 27.
While the back-to-back-to-back record stands alone, there have been 11 other times when the Rangers recorded hat tricks in back-to-back games. Only three players have done the back-to-back feat all by themselves -- Frank Boucher in March 1928, Cook in December 1930 and Steve Vickers in November 1972. The last time the Rangers had had back-to-back hat tricks was when Gartner scored three goals in a 5-3 win over Pittsburgh on Jan 31, 1994, at MSG, and Adam Graves followed up with three more in a 4-4 tie with the Islanders on Feb. 2, 1994.
Perhaps the most amazing back-to-back feat in Rangers history happened in February 1973, when Walt Tkaczuk and Pete Stemkowski recorded hat tricks on consecutive days – the only time that has ever happened. Tkaczuk got three goals in a 7-3 win at Boston on Feb. 3, and Stemkowski turned the trick in a 6-0 rout of Atlanta on Feb. 4 at MSG.
The longest stretch of Rangers games without a hat trick by a Blueshirts player is 125 games between Petr Nedved's Jan. 13, 2003, hat trick against Toronto at MSG and Jaromir Jagr's Oct. 20, 2005, hat trick at the Nassau Coliseum.
The fewest hat tricks in one season is zero. The drought years were 1944-45, 1948-49 and 2003-04. The Rangers did not make the playoffs in any of those seasons.
The goalie who gave up the most Rangers hat tricks was Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk, one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. Sawchuk allowed seven Rangers hat tricks between March 1954 and February 1963. Later in his career, Sawchuk would play for the Blueshirts in what turned out to be the final year of his life. While Sawchuk holds the record, the active goaltender most likely to break it appears to be the Islanders' Rick DiPietro. Not yet 26, DiPietro has already allowed four Rangers hat tricks, and given his own long contract and the NHL's rivalry-driven schedule, DiPietro should have countless opportunities to catch up to Sawchuk's seven.