With All-Star Weekend festivities ongoing in Los Angeles, we take a look at Rangers’ ghosts of All-Stars past. Hopefully we’ll find Ryan McDonagh on this list this time next year!
Rod Gilbert, 1972
En route to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, the Rangers sent six players to represent the East squad. None had a better weekend than Gilbert, who helped the East make up a 2-0 deficit. Gilbert first assisted on the goal that cut the lead in half, scored by his teammate Jean Ratelle. With 44 seconds remaining in the game, Gilbert played hero, scoring a power play goal for the 3-2 win.
Eddie Giacomin/Gilles Villemure, 1973
The Rangers had not one but two of their goalies on display for the Madison Square Garden hosted 1973 game. The pair, who were also reunited with teammate Brad Park at MSG, faced 30 shots from a West Division team that featured numerous scorers, led by Stan Mikita. They made 26 stops combined, and the East earned a 5-4 victory.
Phil Esposito/Rod Gilbert 1977
A pair of Rangers were selected to the 1977 game to rep the Campbell, with the captain Esposito going to Vancouver with Gilbert, taking on former teammate Park who was on the other side for the Wales. Down 3-2 late in the game, it was Esposito who knotted things up, getting one past Gerry Desjardins of Buffalo for the tying goal. It was Gilbert who got Esposito the primary assist. Victory, however, was not to be, as Desjardins’s teammate, Rick Martin, put in two goals, including the winner in the penultimate minute.
Mike Gartner, 1993
Gartner was actually a substitution, replacing Mark Messier for the 1993 game in Montreal. He definitely made the most of it, first winning the Fastest Skater competition, establishing a new record in the contest. During the final game of the Campbell vs Wales set-up, he achieved a hat trick in the first period before adding one more in the second, becoming the fourth player to score four goals in a single All-Star Game. He walked away with MVP honors in the Wales’s 16-6 victory.
Mike Richter, 1994
In a sign of things to come that summer, Richter rose to the occasion when Madison Square Garden itself hosted the 1994 festivities. In a game commonly noted for little defense, Richter earned the rare goalie MVP award, playing a second period where he made 19 of 21 potential stops. Three of the saves were made on breakaway shots by Pavel Bure of Vancouver. In the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, it was Richter’s save on a Bure penalty shot that changed the course of the series, helping the Rangers bring the Cup back to Manhattan.
Wayne Gretzky, 1999
The Great One ended his All-Star career on the perfect note. Playing for North America, the second time the league adopted the “North America vs The World” format, Gretzky, named the captain, earned a trio of points (one goal, two assists) in North America’s 8-6 victory. It was part of Gretzky’s triumphant retirement tour, one that concluded that spring with the hockey world watching at Madison Square Garden, a ceremony that ensured that no one would ever wear #99 in an NHL All-Star Game…or any other game…again.
Marian Gaborik, 2012
The Rangers found themselves in a bit of an awkward spot during the 2012 game. Under the fantasy draft format, Gaborik was selected by the team captained by Zdeno Chara, while two more Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi, were chosen by the team captained by hometown guy Daniel Alfredsson. Gaborik tortured his teammates, notching a hat trick, as well as MVP honors in Team Alfredsson’s 12-9 win. Gaborik’s first two goals were scored against none other than Lundqvist.
Rick Nash, 2015
Rick Nash may very well be the first Columbus Blue Jacket to have his number retired, but #61 was not welcomed back to his former stomping grounds warmly. Taking part in the final All-Star game decided by fantasy draft, held in Columbus’s Nationwide Arena, Nash was snubbed by designated home captain Nick Foligno, selected instead by the team captain by Jonathan Towes. Nash, booed every time he touched the puck, ended up getting the last laugh, scoring two goals in Team Towes’s 17-12 victory.