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The Official Site of the New York Rangers

Rangers History: The Cup and Beyond

Two years later, after again finishing at the top of the NHL during the 1993-94 regular season, the Rangers came from behind to win the Eastern Conference championship on Mark Messier's third-period hat trick in Game 6 and Stephane Matteau's double-overtime goal in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils. They then defeated the Vancouver Canucks in another seven-game thriller. 

Brian Leetch set the pace with the first goal in Game 7, and Messier scored what would stand up as the Cup-winner.

The Rangers' fourth Cup and the numerous franchise records set that season continued a long, distinguished history marked by outstanding team and individual performances. The emergence of superstars Leetch, goaltender Mike Richter and Graves, who broke Hadfield's team record with 52 goals in 1993-94, provided the organization with the on-ice skill and off-ice leadership crucial to a Stanley Cup contender.

Two years later, after again finishing at the top of the NHL during the 1993-94 regular season, the Rangers came from behind to win the Eastern Conference championship on Mark Messier's third-period hat trick in Game 6 and Stephane Matteau's double-overtime goal in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils. They then defeated the Vancouver Canucks in another seven-game thriller. 

Brian Leetch set the pace with the first goal in Game 7, and Messier scored what would stand up as the Cup-winner.

The Rangers' fourth Cup and the numerous franchise records set that season continued a long, distinguished history marked by outstanding team and individual performances. The emergence of superstars Leetch, goaltender Mike Richter and Graves, who broke Hadfield's team record with 52 goals in 1993-94, provided the organization with the on-ice skill and off-ice leadership crucial to a Stanley Cup contender.

Just two years after winning the Cup, the Rangers shook up the NHL again in 1996 by signing the game's all-time greatest player to a free-agent contract. Wayne Gretzky would play a big part in the team's run to the 1997 Conference Finals in the first of his three seasons with the Blueshirts. It was as a Ranger that the legendary center ended his NHL career on April 18, 1999. During the post-game ceremony, the NHL announced that Gretzky's No. 99 would never be worn by another player.

 

Between 1998 and 2004, the Rangers struggled to make the playoffs, coming up short in each season. Nevertheless, these years brought many highlights as Leetch and Richter shattered numerous team records.

This period also saw the premature retirement of Richter, the team's alltime wins leader, who was forced to hang up his skates due to injuries. For 14 seasons, he had provided Rangers fans with some of the team's most historic moments, including his performance in the 1994 Stanley Cup run. Richter's accomplishments were celebrated by the team when his No. 35 was raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden on February 4, 2004, becoming just the third player after Gilbert and Giacomin to have such an honor bestowed on him.

The 2003-04 season featured another great moment as Mark Messier, in his second stint with the team, passed Gordie Howe as the NHL's highest-scoring player behind Wayne Grezky. It was one of the final great accomplishments of Messier's career, because following the lockout season of 2004-05, the man known as "The Captain" announced his retirement. Messier had played 10 of his 25 NHL seasons in New York, and was recognized as the difference-maker on the 1994 Cup team. On Jan. 12, 2006, the Rangers honored Messier's legacy by retiring his No. 11 in a special on-ice ceremony prior to the Rangers - Edmonton Oilers game.

Two years after Messier's number went to the MSG rafters, Leetch's No. 2 found its way there, too. Perhaps the greatest defenseman in Rangers history, Leetch re-wrote every scoring record by a blueliner in his sparkling 17-year career in New York, netting 240 goals, 741 assists and 981 points. During his Rangers tenure, Leetch became the only NHL player other than Orr to win the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year, the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman (twice).

In 2008-09, Adam Graves was the fourth and final member of the 1994 Championship team to have his number raised to The Garden rafters. Graves spent 10 years with the Rangers, setting the franchise's single season record for goals in the 1993-94 season, tallying 52 goals to break Vic Hadfield's 22-year old mark of 50. The two-time Rangers' MVP (1992-93, 1993-94) will always be best known for his achievements and contributions to the Rangers magical 1994 Stanley Cup team, helping break a 54-year old championship drought. On February 3, 2009, Graves joined his former teammates Mike Richter, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch, as well as former greats Rod Gilbert and Eddie Giacomin, as his #9 was retired to The Garden rafters