How the Rangers 1933 Stanley Cup Improbably Was Won

After winning the 1928 Stanley Cup in the second year of their existence, Rangers manager-coach Lester (The Silver Fox) Patrick could have been tempted to stand pat with his championship lineup.

But the Silver Fox was too foxy for that. “Stand-pat” was not part of his standard, creative philosophy. As a result, the Blueshirts’ Cup lineup began being trimmed and replaced in the 1930s era.

“Rangers faces kept changing,” wrote Blueshirts center Frank Boucher in his autobiography, When The Rangers Were Young. “Lester was not a man to sit still with a winner.”

Rangers Boucher Vintage 101916

He unloaded his original (1926-27, 1927-28) goalie Lorne Chabot along with another fan favorite, defenseman Clarence (Taffy) Abel as well as Cup-winning forward Paul Thompson.

By the time the 1932-33 season had begun, the Toronto Maple Leafs were the defending Cup champions, eventually to be challenged by Patrick’s rejuvenated Rangers.

New faces included Babe Siebert who was placed on a line with scoring star Cecil Dillon and Art Somers while Earl Seibert — no relation to Babe — was the rock on defense. The Seibert-Siebert duet would prove a major asset in the Cup drive.

The new group was molded around the 1928 Cup nucleus. Patrick retained the first line comprised of Boucher and the Cook Brothers, Bill and Bun.

“Bill had led our (American) Division in goals the year before,” Boucher recalled, “and had another great season in ’32-’33, winning the scoring championship, with Bun second and me fifth in our division.”

Bill Cook Rangers 11916

Although the Rangers finished the American Division’s regular season in third place, that was a somewhat deceptive position. For one thing, it placed them only four points behind division-leading Boston.

For another, the Rangers’ 54 points matched the defending Cup Champion Maple Leafs’ regular-season total. “With the playoffs coming up,” Boucher added, “this Rangers team wasn’t fooling around.”

Boucher wasn’t kidding either. Neither were his teammates. They knocked off both the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings in successive preliminary rounds before meeting the Leafs in the best-of-five series.

If the Rangers had any disadvantage — on paper, at least — it was in goal. Toronto’s netminder was ex-Ranger Chabot who had helped the Leafs win the 1932 Cup. He was experienced and feared.

By contrast, the Rangers counted on a rookie, blond, blue-eyed Andy Aitkenhead whose claim to fame was wearing a tweed cap when he guarded the crease.

Rangers Andy Aitkenhead 111616

But Lady Luck was on New York’s side. Only the night before, the Leafs had endured six overtime periods before beating Boston. By the time they got to New York on April 4, 1933, they were exhausted and were beaten 5-1 in the opening game of the Final that night.

The Blueshirts followed that up with a 3-1 win on April 8, 1933 in Toronto, as Aitkenhead excelled for the second straight game before the Leafs finally beat him, 3-2, three nights later.

Game 4 evolved into yet another overtime classic. Both Chabot and Aitkenhead repulsed all goal attempts through three periods, sending the game into sudden-death overtime.

After more than seven minutes of the extra session, Patrick had the Cooks-Boucher unit on the ice but called them over for a line change. As luck would have it, Bun made it to the bench, replaced by Butch Keeling.

Boucher also was about to jump back on the bench when Keeling snared the puck, wheeled and headed toward the Toronto zone.

Meanwhile, Bill Cook, who originally planned to come off the ice with brother Bun, saw an opportunity and yelled for the puck. Keeling obliged by sending the pass to the Leafs blue line where Bill thundered in on Chabot.

“Lorne gave me the whole stick-side,” Cook concluded, “and I just fired for that hole.”

At 7:34 of the first overtime, the red light flashed behind Chabot and the Rangers had won their second Stanley Cup; their second title in their seven-year history,

“A couple of days later,” wrote Eric Whitehead, author of The Patricks — Hockey’s Royal Family, “the Rangers were hosted at a sumptuous victory celebration at the Astor Hotel in Times Square.”

The Blueshirts had become the toast of New York sports and the likes of Bill and Bun Cook even inspired New York Sun sportswriter Harold C. Burr to author a poem in honor of the duo:

Old adages live because they are true:
If they weren’t they wouldn’t survive.
But once in awhile there are a few
That shouldn’t be kept alive.
In hockey, where speed and grit hold forth,
Some sayings sound awfully funny.
‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’
Did you ever meet Bill and Bunny?