Aug 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
New York Rangers
1. Mark Messier — 957 votes
2. Brian Leetch — 641 votes
3. Mike Richter — 314 votes
4. Wayne Gretzky — 291 votes
5. Henrik Lundqvist — 155 votes
6. Rod Gilbert — 113 votes
There was really only one choice to make here, wasn’t there?
Yes, Rod Gilbert is the franchise leader in goals and points and a Hockey Hall of Famer. Yes, Brian Leetch was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1994 and Mike Richter was the goalie that helped make that Stanley Cup championship happen that year, but Mark Messier was the captain.
Messier’s guarantee the Rangers would win Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in 1994 against the New Jersey Devils was the stuff of legend and earned him the nickname of “Messiah.” It was backed up by seeing him score a hat trick and force a legendary Game 7 that was capped off by Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime winner past Martin Brodeur.
What seemed to by mythology about Messier’s leadership came to fruition as the Rangers battled back against New Jersey and then slipped past Pavel Bure’s Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the Final. Hell, Messier even has his own award he dishes out annually for leadership based not upon the five Stanley Cups he won in Edmonton but the one he got in New York.
Wayne Gretzky had a fine final run with the Rangers and perhaps the best of Henrik Lundqvist’s legacy is yet to come in Manhattan, but when you think of the Rangers it’s Messier’s face taking the Cup from Gary Bettman that’s forever emblematic of the franchise.
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 9
- Price makes 43 saves as Senators’ magical run ends in controversy 35
- Video: Fast whistle costs Senators potentially critical goal 14
- WATCH LIVE: Today’s Stanley Cup playoff action 3
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance 94
- Crosby joining Team Canada at Worlds 18
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for today 12
- One more time, with feeling: Flames stage yet another comeback, eliminate Vancouver 25
- Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators 49
- Red Wings smother Lightning, take 3-2 series lead 23
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (110)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (94)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)