Rangers Greats Reunite to Honor Jean Ratelle

Rangers Greats Reunite to Honor Jean Ratelle

The seismic roster shift despatched shock waves by means of the fan base. The Ratelle commerce was even on the front page of The New York Times. (By coincidence, the Rangers, who have said they are planning to rebuild, might be honoring Ratelle the day earlier than the buying and selling deadline.)

Ratelle, 35 on the time, went on to play six seasons with the Bruins, for whom he wore No. 10. His time in Boston included journeys to the Stanley Cup finals in 1977 and 1978 earlier than he retired at 40 in 1981. Ratelle completed his profession with 491 objectives and continued to work for the Bruins for an additional twenty years, first as an assistant coach, then as a scout. He was inducted into the Hockey Corridor of Fame in 1985.

“I felt loyalty to the Bruins,” he mentioned. “I used to be with them for 26 years.”

Ratelle developed a bond with Jeff Gorton, the Rangers’ basic supervisor, who spent 15 years within the Bruins’ entrance workplace earlier than becoming a member of the Rangers in 2007.

“I used to go to highschool and school video games with him,” Gorton mentioned. “I bear in mind these instances. You take a look at his numbers, every part he’s completed, and also you look as much as the rafters figuring out Jean Ratelle belongs there.”

Ratelle would be the ninth Rangers participant to have his quantity honored, becoming a member of Giacomin (1), Gilbert (7), Harry Howell (three), Andy Bathgate (9), Mark Messier (11), Mike Richter (35), Brian Leetch (2) and Adam Graves, whose No. 9 hangs subsequent to Bathgate’s.


Ratelle, proper, with the Bruins’ Bobby Orr and the Stanley Cup in 1972, when their groups met within the finals. Ratelle by no means received the Cup in his 24 N.H.L. seasons.

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Harry Harris/Related Press

“It’s simply the proper time,” Ratelle mentioned.

He might be joined on Sunday by his spouse, Nancy, their three daughters and their households.

“My spouse and I have been watching a Rangers recreation final winter, they usually have been speaking concerning the gamers with their sweaters retired,” mentioned Ratelle, whose No. 19 was worn most lately by Jesper Quick till he switched to No. 17 this season. “She mentioned, ‘The Rangers ought to actually retire your sweater since you had an important profession in New York.’ ‘O.Ok.,’ I mentioned. ‘If Glen calls me, I’ll say sure.’ A month later, he known as.”

Ratelle might be on the ice with different former teammates, together with Park, Giacomin, goaltender Gilles Villemure and ahead Pete Stemkowski.

“Jean didn’t say a lot,” mentioned Stemkowski, who performed seven seasons with the Rangers. “He wasn’t a rah-rah man, and I don’t suppose I ever heard him swear. He simply labored arduous at his craft.”

Additionally anticipated to partake within the festivities might be Ratelle’s longtime coach and basic supervisor, Emile Francis. He first coached Ratelle when he was a youngster taking part in for the Rangers’ junior group in Guelph, Ontario.

“I couldn’t be happier for Jean,” mentioned Francis, 91, who lives in Florida and stays shut together with his gamers from the GAG line period. “Little question about it, he was top-of-the-line gamers who ever performed for me.”


Ratelle (10) with different members of the 1977-78 Bruins, who have been honored in Boston this month. After being traded by the Rangers, Ratelle spent six seasons with the Bruins as participant and 20 extra as a coach and scout.

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Michael Dwyer/Related Press

That group is synonymous with a wonderful however unfulfilled Rangers period. The prospect to face collectively once more on Backyard ice is particular.

Hadfield, who turned the primary Ranger to attain 50 objectives in a season, on the final day of the 1971-72 season, was extra enforcer than objective scorer all through the 1960s, when the Rangers did not win a single playoff collection. Hadfield, who was born at some point after Ratelle in October 1940, joined the Rangers in 1961-62 and stayed by means of the 1973-74 season, after which he was traded to Pittsburgh.

Hadfield mentioned what made Rangers groups of that period distinctive was the gamers’ closeness, exemplified by the mild-mannered but intense Ratelle, whose 109 factors in 1971-72 are second-most in franchise historical past (behind Jaromir Jagr’s 123 in 2005-06).

“Jean was not solely a wonderful hockey participant, however he was a wonderful particular person,” Hadfield mentioned. “As a group, all of us frolicked collectively as a result of all of us lived on Lengthy Island. We at all times had 5 or 6 guys and our wives collectively for dinner. That’s the way it was. We received as a group and we misplaced as a group.”

Gilbert performed till 1977, ending with 406 objectives and 1,021 factors, nonetheless franchise data. He has by no means left New York, and he works for the Rangers as director of particular tasks and group relations consultant. He marvels on the happenstance that created a lifelong bond with Ratelle, who’s from Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec.

“It was pure luck we have been introduced collectively as youngsters in Montreal,” mentioned Gilbert, a Montreal native. “Then we’ve this nice profession collectively by means of juniors and with the Rangers. And now we’re each within the Corridor of Fame. It’s magical.”


Ratelle battling Chicago goalie Tony Esposito within the 1971 playoffs towards the Blackhawks. 4 years later, Ratelle was traded for Esposito’s brother, Phil.

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The Corridor of Famer Yvan Cournoyer, who performed towards Ratelle all through his profession, mentioned there was a parallel between Ratelle and the Montreal Canadiens nice Jean Beliveau, Cournoyer’s longtime teammate.

“Jean Ratelle had the identical magnificence and magnificence as Jean Beliveau,” mentioned Cournoyer, a 10-time Stanley Cup winner with the Canadiens. “And he was a gentleman off the ice. What is simply too unhealthy is that Jean Ratelle by no means received a Stanley Cup. However the Rangers have been a group we revered due to Jean and Rod and all their guys.”

In 1971-72, Ratelle and his linemates have been on tempo to interrupt all kinds of data and probably lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup since 1940. However in early March, Ratelle’s ankle was fractured by a shot taken by his teammate Dale Rolfe, and he was not an element within the playoffs. The Rangers beat Montreal in six video games, then swept Chicago to arrange a showdown towards Bobby Orr and the Bruins within the finals.

Ratelle had just one help in six video games because the Rangers misplaced to the Bruins, who lifted the Cup on the Backyard that Could 11.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, whose No. 30 will certainly take its place above the Backyard ice at some point, mentioned he had loved visiting with the greats of yesteryear. Ratelle and his linemates attended the group’s preseason golf outing final September.

“They’re all tremendous good and humorous, these guys, and you may see they take care of one another,” Lundqvist mentioned. “It was a distinct time that’s for certain — a distinct recreation and a distinct method. But it surely seems like they at all times had enjoyable.”

For Rangers followers of his period, the possibility to honor Ratelle looks like a long-overdue welcome-home get together.

“Time goes by,” Ratelle mentioned. “Will probably be good to be with the blokes. This might be very particular for me as a result of we had some nice groups in New York. And there’s just one New York.”

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