After the 1975-1976 season, the New York Rangers decided they wanted to rebuild. They did so by dealing star player, Jean Ratelle, among others to the Boston Bruins, in an effort to build for the future. Ironically, the Rangers did the same thing this morning. Following the trades of Michael Grabner and Nick Holden earlier this week, the Rangers have continued their trade-deadline-fire-sale, as they have now dealt alternate captain, Rick Nash, to the Boston Bruins, and received quite the haul in return, which included roster players, a draft pick, and a top-prospect. Nash spent 6 seasons as a fan-favorite on Broadway, in which he totaled 252 points in 375 games. If interested, the Blueshirts will have a chance at re-signing Nash when he hits free agency this summer. Now that Jeff Gorton has cashed in on all of his ‘rentals’, the focus shifts to Rangers captain, Ryan McDonagh, whose contract expires after next season, and is rumored to be on his way out.
Done deal.#NYR acquire Ryan Spooner, Matt Beleskey, Ryan Lindgren (unsigned), Boston's own 1st Round pick in 2018 and Boston's own 7th Round pick in 2019. Rangers retain 50 percent of the Nash contract.#Bruins acquire Rick Nash. BOS retains 50 percent of the Beleskey contract
— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) February 25, 2018
Although the departure of Nash has taken over the some of the spotlight, tonight’s contest will not only be about the possible debut of Ryan Spooner. Tonight the Rangers will honor Jean Rattle, by raising number 19 to the rafters. Having played 16 seasons on Broadway (1960-1976) in which he scored 817 points, Rattle’s jersey retirement is well-deserved and long overdue. He certainly has the accolades, as Ratelle boast the second most goals in Ranger history, the third most assists, and the third most points. Ratelle will become the 9th Ranger to be commemorated, joining Ed Giacomin, Brian Leech, Harry Howell, Andy Bathgate, Rod Gilbert, Mike Richter, Adam Graves, and Mark Messier, whom will be joining Ratelle at the garden tonight. Following his illustrious career, Ratelle was inducted into the hockey hall of fame in 1985, and was included in the NHL’s list of the top 100 greatest players ever, made just one a year ago.
Now for the actual hockey game. Tonight the Detroit Red Wings (25-26-10) will travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Blueshirts (27-30-5). Detroit enters on their second game of a back-to-back, winning the first yesterday in Carolina, to snap their three game losing skid. The Rangers will be looking to snap their 6 game losing streak, after back-to-back frustrating losses to Montreal and Minnesota, on Thursday and Friday respectively. Despite the lack of playoff implications, this original six matchup does have some meaning, as it might be the loser that truly comes out on top tonight. Both the Wings and the Blueshirts are in contention for the 1st overall pick in the 2018 NHL entry draft, where coveted defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin, will finally find a home.
Tonight’s outcome will decide the season series between these two teams, as they enter the finale with one win apiece. The Blueshirts came away victorious back in late November with a 2-1 overtime win at MSG, but the Wings would get revenge defeating the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout at Little Caesar’s Arena just over a month later. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to return to the net for the Blueshirts, and Jimmy Howard is likely to be between the pipes for Detroit. While he has had a wildly inconsistent career, Howard has always been superb against the Rangers, as he boasts 1.73 goals against average, and a .950 save percentage in 12 career starts. Tonight’s ceremonies will begin a 7:00 PM, but puck-drop won’t occur until 7:30 (MSG).
Brian Paget is on Twitter @BrianPaget17