It’s Time Rangers Retired Brad Park’s Number

If any reason is needed, besides the fact that Brad Park is one of the top two defenders in franchise history and thus deserves to have his number 2 retired and rise to the top of the garden’s pinwheel ceiling besides his colleague, Brian Leetch, there is this:

It would mean the world to a generation of Rangers fans who have been watching their team for 50 or 60 years and have one Stanley Cup for it. What about that one?

How about the franchise, now run by a Connecticut gentleman who grew up with the Blueshirts and later became captain of the team, giving back a little bit to the fanbase by playing the last of the five pillars of Emile Francis’ beloved teams. honor the way that Rod Gilbert, Ed Giacomin, Jean Ratelle and Vic Hadfield have already been recognized?

This is not a plea to President and CEO Chris Drury based solely on sentiment. If you ever saw Park wearing the Blueshirt, you would know that. I don’t care that he only played 465 games for the Rangers before being sent off to the Bruins in trade 46 years ago this Sunday, marking the end of time. Why would anyone? It’s not like he ran away alone.

“I cried,” Park said of the trade last week as we telephoned memories of Giacomin’s iconic return to the Garden in 1975, five days before Park and Ratelle were told to surrender their ID badges. “And then I got angry.”

Rangers Legend Brad Park
Paul J. Bereswill

Before he cried, before he got mad, before he and Ratelle led the Bruins to the cup finals in 1977 and 1978 (and before Phil Esposito did the same for the Rangers in 1979), Park had a five-year stint in New York (from 1969 -70 to 1973-74), in which he was named three times to the first All-Star team and twice to the second team, while finishing second to Bobby Orr four times for the Norris Trophy and finishing third in the one times vote.

I happened to come across a tweet a few days ago promoting a podcast or network show with bullet points about the topics that would be covered. One was “Rules for Retired Numbers.” I didn’t listen, sorry, other stuff to do, but the first rule about retired numbers is that there are no rules for retired numbers. The second line is to refer to the first.

That’s why Adam Graves’ No. 9 is retired and why Bobby Nystrom’s No. 23 is retired, and why, in Washington, Yvon Labre’s No. 7 has been honored. That’s why Alan Hamilton’s number 3 has been retired in Edmonton and Keith Magnuson’s number 3 has been honored in Chicago.

There is never a wrong reason for a franchise to pull a song out, any more than there is a guideline to do so beyond greatness, beyond impact, beyond its connection to the fanbase. Beyond history. Park checks every box.

Derek Sanderson of the Boston Bruins is checked on the ice while Brad Park of the Rangers sits on him during their circa 1974 game at Madison Square Garden.
Getty Images

But there’s more. Park is 73 years old; Giacomin, 82; Ratelle, 81; Emile, 95; Hadfield 81; Gilbert turned 80. The silver generation only has so many days left. So are the generation of Blue Seaters and the fans in the greens and the swell in the reds who loved those teams wholeheartedly. Not only is there no good reason to wait, there is no time to wait.

Park has earned this honor. He is one of the two greatest defenders in franchise history, a member of the Hall of Fame and one of the NHL’s Greatest 100 as selected four years ago. It’s time to reunite Park with Gilbert, Giacomin, Ratelle and Hadfield at the top of the Garden.

It’s time to celebrate this No. 2 in New York. He deserved it. And so are the generations of Rangers fans who haven’t had the chance to celebrate franchise championships but have earned the privilege of greeting franchise icons.

The return of the Sabers for Jack Eichel was in many ways commensurate with Rick Nash’s win in July 2013 when the Blue Jackets shared him with the Rangers with about as much influence as Buffalo had in this case.

Nash, as you recall, had a no-swap clause that he refused to part with from any team other than the Rangers after asking to be moved at the start of a rebuild, like Eichel—without a no-swap clause, but with pending serious neck surgery on the horizon – told the Sabers he wanted out.

Buffalo has a few players, Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs, who hopefully because of the suppressed upstate franchise will be part of a young winning core the way Eichel and Sam Reinhart weren’t. The Sabers also got a presumably late first-rounder, as did Columbus, alongside Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon, from the Rangers in 2013.

And the Golden Knights, who have gone to great lengths from day 1 to weaponize the gallons of cap space the franchise was given to get into the league in a way that the Kraken seemingly have no interest in copying, have their franchise center… if Eichel makes a full-blown hockey recovery from his upcoming disc replacement surgery.

You know what I remember most about Marian Gaborik, who announced his retirement from the NHL on Thursday after a career that saw him score 407 goals in 1,035 games?

The way The Great Gabby — who scored 19 goals and 33 points in his first 22 games as Ranger in 2009-10 en route to the first of two seasons with over 40 goals in his nearly four years on Broadway — would squirm and hitchhike his stick in his hands before confronting him as Wyatt Earp would have wielded his gun before going to work against Curly Bill Brocius.

That is what.

Do I have this right? Due to the 9-0 start of the Candy Canes they put on the line in Florida on Saturday night, has Tony DeAngelo been on the ice one goal to five-on-five while clinching a plus-11? Holy Sheltering, Rod Brind’Amour.

I’m not a particularly devout believer in karma, but if you want to convince me, maybe you don’t have to say anything other than, “Marc Bergevin.”

That wasn’t how McJesus scored that Friday goal in Edmonton. That was McMoses parting the Blueshirt Sea and the Rangers doing what Mario Lemieux once did to Shawn Chambers, times four.


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