Several Hall of Famers and All-Stars experienced brief stays as members of the Broadway Blueshirts. Many fans can recall Guy Lafleur, Pat LaFontaine, Pavel Bure, and Martin St. Louis calling Madison Square Garden home for a season or so.
Yet, there’s an elite group of players who played less than 50 games for the Rangers. Let’s take a deeper look at some noteworthy NHLers who were barely Rangers.
Acquired to back up fellow Hall of Fame goaltender Ed Giacomin, Sawchuk only played eight regular season and three playoff games for the Blueshirts during the 1969-70 season. After losing the 1970 Eastern Conference quarterfinals to the Bruins, Sawchuk rented a house with teammate Ron Stewart, and the 40-year-old netminder died of a pulmonary embolism after a roughhousing incident between the pair. Sawchuk’s death was ruled accidental and Stewart was exonerated by a Long Island grand jury.
At the time of his death, Sawchuk held NHL records with 447 wins and 103 shutouts. He captured the Vezina Trophy four times and lifted the Stanley Cup four times during his legendary career.
Considered “The Babe Ruth of Hockey,” Morenz suited up for the Rangers for 18 games during the 1935-36 season. Morenz was an instrumental figure in raising hockey’s popularity. He was the first player in NHL history to score 40 goals – and keep in mind that in the late 1920’s and 1930’s, the NHL held 44-48 game regular seasons.
Morenz was a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens and captured the Hart Trophy three times. After returning to Montreal for the 1936-37 season, Morenz tragically died at age 34 following a crash into the boards that fractured his leg in four places. The Hall of Famer ultimately succumbed to a coronary embolism as a result of the injury.
Best remembered as Wayne Gretzky’s favored linemate during the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty run, Kurri was acquired by the Rangers ahead of the 1996 playoffs.
After a pedestrian return of five points in 14 regular season games, Kurri caught fire in the playoffs by notching eight points in 11 games – but the Rangers were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games in the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinal. Kurri won the Stanley Cup five times in Edmonton, finished his career with 601 goals and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Duff captured the Stanley Cup twice with the Toronto Maple Leafs and four times as a member of the Canadiens. The Rangers acquired Duff in a 1964 seven-player trade that sent Andy Bathgate to Toronto and he played parts of two seasons for the Blueshirts, totaling 20 points in 43 games. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Rangers reunited Marc and Eric Staal, trading for the latter in Feb. 2016.
The oldest of the Staal brothers skated in 20 regular season games for the Rangers, collecting six points. He failed to record a point during the 2016 playoffs, as the Rangers were defeated by the Penguins in a one-sided, five-game opening round exit, but following his brief stint in New York, Staal flourished in four seasons for the Minnesota Wild, recording 240 points in 311 games. At age 36, he ranks eighth in points (1,021) among active NHL players, and will play his first season for the Buffalo Sabres in 2020-21.
A popular member of the 1980’s Philadelphia Flyers, Kerr recorded four consecutive 50-goal seasons and represented Philly in three All-Star Games. Knee troubles hampered his career and he arrived at Madison Square Garden in 1991 when the Rangers swapped Brian Mullen to the San Jose Sharks. Kerr dressed for 40 combined regular season and playoff games for the Rangers, struggling to stay healthy for the remainder of his career.
A member of the inaugural 1993-94 Mighty Ducks, Hebert produced several strong seasons of netminding in Anaheim. The Rangers claimed Hebert off waivers in Mar. 2001 and he went 5-7-1 as a Blueshirt before retiring at season’s end.
A longtime Washington Capital and New Jersey Devil, Carpenter recorded 10 points in 28 games as a Ranger during the 1986-87 season. Overall, Carpenter tallied 728 points in 1,178 games and was a member of the Devils’ first Stanley Cup championship team in 1995.
A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Sykora was acquired by the Rangers from Anaheim in Jan. 2006. His robust regular season production of 31 points in 40 games did not carry over to the postseason, as the Czech wing failed to record a point as the Rangers were swept in the opening round of the 2006 playoffs by Sykora’s former employers, the rival Devils.
Similar to Sykora, Ozolinsh was acquired from Anaheim before the 2006 trade deadline and put up initial strong numbers as a Ranger, but was held pointless during the 2006 playoffs. Ozolinsh recorded 14 points in 19 games for the remainder of the 2005-06 season as a Ranger, then struggled the next season, only managing three points in 21 games before being waived. Prior to arriving in New York, Ozolinsh was a seven-time All-Star and won the 1996 Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
Follow Sean Hartnett on Twitter: @HartnettHockey