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Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Tip of the Goalie Mask to Rangers Greats

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By JEFF Z. KLEIN


After Henrik Lundqvist secured a 3-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, he paid tribute to two great Rangers goalies who came before him: Eddie Giacomin, whose Rangers shutout record he tied, and Mike Richter, whose team victory record is only one win away.

“I do think about them, probably because the Rangers are so good at paying tribute to the old guys and the legends they’ve had here,” Lundqvist said. “They come in once in a while. You constantly get reminded what they did for this organization, which I think is great. It’s very special when you’re up there with them.”

Richter and Giacomin say the feeling is mutual.

“Hank is gifted,” Richter said as Lundqvist closed in on his club record of 301 career victories. “His intensity, his desire to win, his real desire to improve — these are the things I’ve seen and admired in him from when he first joined the Rangers. I’m very happy for him.”

Giacomin said: “I’m a Canadian, Mike Richter’s American and Hank’s a European, a Swede. It’s amazing that it happens in New York that way.”


300 and Counting
On Sunday, Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 300th N.H.L. victory and 49th career shutout. Where his regular-season numbers rank.


CAREER WINS, RANGERS
GP
W
Mike Richter, 1989-2003
666
301
Henrik Lundqvist, 2005-14
560
300
Eddie Giacomin, 1965-76
538
266
Gump Worsley, 1952-63
582
204
John Vanbiesbrouck, 1981-1993
449
200
Dave Kerr, 1934-41
324
157
Chuck Rayner, 1945-53
376
123

SHUTOUTS, RANGERS
GP
SO
Eddie Giacomin, 1965-76
538
49
Henrik Lundqvist, 2005-14
560
49
Dave Kerr, 1934-41
324
40
John Ross Roach, 1928-32
180
30
Chuck Rayner, 1945-53
376
24
Gump Worsley, 1952-63
582
24
Mike Richter, 1989-2003
666
24


Giacomin, Richter and Lundqvist are three strands in an extended golden braid of Rangers goaltenders going back to the club’s founding in the 1920s. Richter and Giacomin have been where Lundqvist is today. Richter, who played for the Rangers from 1989 to 2003, surpassed Giacomin in 2001 for the team lead in victories. Giacomin had supplanted Gump Worsley (1952-63) in team wins and Dave Kerr (1934-41) in shutouts.

When they set those records, they were aware of their place in the continuum.

“There’s a series of goalies that you eclipse as you go along, guys that came before you,” Richter said. “Eddie is the iconic Rangers goaltender. I had him as my goalie coach when I first came in. I watched him when I was a young guy growing up in Philadelphia. I loved his mask, read his life story, and there I was, in the same uniform as him. Later on, just have him as a friend, the feeling is humbling.”

Giacomin looked up to Chuck Rayner, who played for the Rangers from 1945 to 1953.

“He used to come to whatever functions we had,” Giacomin said. “I can remember saying, ‘Boy, that’s really something to be on the ice with Chuck Rayner.’ ”

Richter, 47, knows as well as anyone what it takes to be a winning goalie in New York. He played 666 regular-season games for the Rangers, the most of any goalie, and in 1994, he helped the team win its only Stanley Cup since 1940, when Kerr was in the net.

Richter’s goaltending was also central to the United States’ victory at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and its silver medal at the 2002 Olympics. But a fractured skull and two concussions in rapid succession forced him to retire before the 2003-4 season.

After his retirement, he went to Yale to finish his bachelor’s degree and was an assistant for the men’s hockey team. In the late 2000s, he twice contemplated running for the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat, once in Connecticut and once in New York, but decided against it.

Today, Richter is a founding partner at Healthy Planet Partners, a company that retrofits buildings with renewable energy technology. He is also on the boards for Riverkeeper, the Adirondack Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.


Richter has three sons, two of whom, age 13 and 9, play hockey, but he no longer coaches their travel teams and works only occasional clinics. And he no longer plays goalie; he is a forward in a recreational league. Even his sons are not goalies.

“My wife was especially happy about that,” he said, laughing.

Giacomin’s most famous moment came two days after he was waived by the Rangers in October 1975. He returned to Madison Square Garden as the goalie for Detroit and was given a thunderous, extended ovation by Rangers fans as he stood weeping on the blue line. He won the game for the Red Wings.

“I always say one of the reasons I’m in the Hall of Fame is because of that night,” Giacomin said. “How many times does a player get an ovation like that, where they cheer for the opposing team the whole night?”

Soon after he retired, Giacomin was the Rangers’ goaltending coach for a few seasons, mentoring Richter, John Vanbiesbrouck, Bob Froese and other goalies of the 1980s. Now 74 and retired, he lives near Detroit and has three grandchildren who play hockey, though none are goalies.

“Oh, no, they’re all smarter than me; they want the joy of scoring,” Giacomin said.

He added that he would always be a Ranger and that his heart was in New York.

“When the Rangers lose, a little bit of me dies with them because that’s how I feel,” he said. “New York fans have been so supportive of me. and of Mike Richter and now of Lundqvist.”

Giacomin also watches Lundqvist with admiration.

“You’re not going to get many cheap goals on him — he’s a gamer,” he said. “He battles all the time, everything, whether it’s a practice or it’s a game. And he likes to play all the games — the more he plays, the better he gets. Look at the schedule, the Olympics. My God, he was sensational, and it’s continuing on.”

Lundqvist, 32, has Olympic gold and silver medals on his résumé but not a Stanley Cup. Still, he said he was appreciating the grand sweep of history more and more.

“I do a lot more now than when I was younger,” Lundqvist said. “You still want to push yourself, but at the same time, you want to enjoy the ride. So I think back on where I came from and how it all happened.”

And the other great Rangers goalies he stands alongside.

“I’m proud just thinking about it,” he said.



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/sports/hockey/lundqvist-tips-goalie-mask-to-rangers-greats.html?_r=0

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