The New York Rangers are suffering through an uncharacteristically rough year. Fans are looking for anything to get excited about besides the end of the season as a whole. After the recent news from the front office broke saying that the core of the Blueshirts would face serious changes, many are looking forward to seeing what general manager Jeff Gorton can cash in with his stockpile of trade bait. But on the eve of the Deadline, fans have the opportunity to witness the team’s ninth jersey retirement, Jean Ratelle‘s number 19.
Jean Ratelle Night Draws Anticipation Amidst Dreadful Season
The Legacy of No. 19
Since becoming a regular with New York in 1963, Jean Ratelle had become a staple in the roster along with linemates Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert to form the iconic Goal-A-Game (GAG) Line. Across a span of 16 seasons, Ratelle produced 336 goals and 481 assists for 817 total points in 861. Year after year, he was the leading point-getter for his team and his wide array of awards exemplify his illustrious tenure with them.
Jean Ratelle earned the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy during the 1970-71 season and the Ted Lindsay Award the following one in 1971-72. That same year he won the Lady Byng Trophy, then won it again in 1975-76. He was an NHL All-Star every year from 1970 up through 1973 as well as the 1980 season. In 1971-72 and again in 1972-73 Ratelle earned the honor of being the MVP on the Rangers. In 2017, he was named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players list.
These and many other accolades all attribute to the incredible player he was. He was also known for the great man that he is. Ratelle was notorious for being an overall classy and respectable person by teammates, rivals, owners, and hockey fans alike. He truly was one of the greatest players of all-time and one of the greatest gentlemen of all-time.
A Moment Long Overdue
For years, Ranger fans who have either watched him play or watched his highlights generations later have awaited this. The famous ceiling of MSG will finally feature Jean Ratelle. No other Blueshirt will don the number 19 jersey again. This summer, current Ranger, Jesper Fast, changed his number 19 to 17 in honor of Ratelle.
On February 25th, Rangerstown will come together to honor him in a pre-game ceremony prior to a matchup against Detroit. He will join the likes of Ed Giacomin (1), Brian Leetch (2), Harry Howell (3), Rod Gilbert (7), Andy Bathgate (9), Adam Graves (9), Mark Messier (11), and Mike Richter (35) to have their jerseys retired.
“I’ve received many awards in my career and this is probably the ultimate,” Ratelle said. “To have your sweater retired with the New York Rangers, it’s the icing on the cake.”
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