The All-Time Top 9 Rangers Nice Guys

It’s not that the Rangers invented The Nice Guy In Hockey, it just happens that over a nine-decade span the Blueshirts have boasted more clean-playing stars than any other NHL team, in my opinion.

Some might even call it genetic since the Blueshirts first superstar center — on the original 1926-27 team — was Frank Boucher, arguably the cleanest Hall of Famer in history.

Center on a famed line with the Cook Brothers, Bill and Bun, Boucher won the Lady Byng Trophy six times in its first seven years. Lady Byng, herself, was so impressed that she gave the trophy to Boucher to keep.

Then, she had another one struck — for the other players; Rangers included. The following is my talented-good-guy Rangers list, in alphabetical order:

1 Frank Boucher

Rangers Frank Boucher 11816

In his first ever game as a Ranger, the Hall of Fame center won a fight — and never fought again over more than a decade as a big-leaguer. Off the ice, “Boosh” was as pleasant a fellow as he was smooth and clean, skating alongside the Cook brothers, Bill and Bun. The expression, “Nice guys finish last” never fit Frank. He won three Stanley Cups; two as a player and one as coach of the 1940 Rangers.

2 Hy Buller

Rangers 90th Anniversary Stock

A defenseman, Buller got his start as a teenager skating for the Rangers’ Eastern League farm team, the New York Rovers. The Jewish blue liner eventually became one of the American Hockey League’s best defenseman with the Cleveland Barons. Like other Barons, such as Johnny Bower and Steve Kraftcheck, Buller made it to the bigs. As good a sportsman as any defenseman, Hy made it to the NHL Second All-Star team in his first year as a Blueshirt.

3 Camille Henry

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Goalie Glenn Hall #1 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes the save on Camille Henry #21 of the New York Rangers on December 23, 1962 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 23: Goalie Glenn Hall #1 of the Chicago Blackhawks makes the save on Camille Henry #21 of the New York Rangers on December 23, 1962 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by B Bennett/Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Nicknamed “Camille, The Eel” because of his elusiveness on the ice, the skinny French-Canadian made the most of his 135 pounds. During his rookie season in 1953-54, Cammy was limited to working only power plays, yet scored enough to win the Calder Trophy as top NHL freshman. Henry was so clean — and so clever — he won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1958 and qualified several other times. Like Buller and Boucher, he was a sweetheart off the ice too.

4 Wally Hergesheimer

Here are the four sharpshooters of the New York Rangers who are expected to score 100 goals for the season as they paused during a workout at Madison Square Garden today. From left: Andy Bathgate, Dean Prentice, Danny Lewicki, and Wally Hergesheimer. The Rangers show every sign of going to town this year. The won their NHL opener for the first time in eight years at Chicago and licked the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since the 1953-54 season.
Here are the four sharpshooters of the New York Rangers who are expected to score 100 goals for the season as they paused during a workout at Madison Square Garden today. From left: Andy Bathgate, Dean Prentice, Danny Lewicki, and Wally Hergesheimer. The Rangers show every sign of going to town this year. The won their NHL opener for the first time in eight years at Chicago and licked the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since the 1953-54 season.

Yet another Cleveland Baron who made good on Broadway, Hergy had several obstacles to surmount, starting with the fact that he was a little guy in a big man’s game and played it clean. Plus, he lost two fingers on his right hand in a factory punch-press accident. Nevertheless, he became the Blueshirts top scorer in the early 1950s. After big, tough Boston defenseman Warren Godfrey attacked him, Hergy was asked how he did in the fight. To which Wally replied, “I told him not to hit me because I’d bleed all over him!”

5 Edgar Laprade

NEW YORK, NY - 1950: Maurice Richard #9 of the Montreal Canadiens battles with Edgar Laprade of the New York Rangers during an NHL game circa 1950 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – 1950: Maurice Richard #9 of the Montreal Canadiens battles with Edgar Laprade of the New York Rangers during an NHL game circa 1950 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

One of the best — and cleanest — stickhandlers ever to grace the NHL, the crack center was content to star for the Port Arthur (Ontario) Bearcats “Senior” Division team in his hometown. Then Rangers manager, Frank Boucher, saw a lot of himself in Laprade’s game and finally talked Edgar into becoming a Ranger for the 1945-46 season. Edgar won the Calder Trophy that year and the Lady Byng Trophy in 1950. It was Laprade’s nature to set up his scorers with passes rather than shooting himself. The clubhouse joke was that if Edgar was awarded a penalty shot he’d pass the puck rather than shoot!

6 Brian Leetch

NEW YORK, NY - 1992: Brian Leetch #2 of the New York Rangers skates on the ice before an NHL game in 1992 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – 1992: Brian Leetch #2 of the New York Rangers skates on the ice before an NHL game in 1992 at the Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

Although the offensive-minded defenseman is best known for helping the Rangers win the 1994 Stanley Cup, his clean, efficient work behind the blue line has been overlooked. Never a fighter — Brian once took a beating from New Jersey’s Pat Verbeek in his rookie season — he played the game according to the rulebook and better than most. A testament to that was his induction into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and the NHL version a year later.

7 Buddy O'Connor

11/15/1950 - New York, NY - Dr. David F. Tracy (second from left) talks to some Rangers before a tilt with Nov. 15th bout. From left to right are Rangers: Pentti Lund; Tony Leswick; Killer Kaleta and Buddy O'Connor (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images).
11/15/1950 – New York, NY – Dr. David F. Tracy (second from left) talks to some Rangers before a tilt with Nov. 15th bout. From left to right are Rangers: Pentti Lund; Tony Leswick; Killer Kaleta and Buddy O’Connor (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images).

Among the best trades ever engineered over nine decades of Rangers hockey, the one that ranks at the top saw manager Frank Boucher lure slick center O’Connor from the Montreal Canadiens for three players who never amounted to much. While the Habs figured that little Buddy was over the hill, O’Connor proved quite the opposite. For starters, during the season when he came to New York, he helped his Rangers beat Montreal for a playoff berth, was the NHL’s second-leading scorer and won both the Lady Byng and Hart Trophies. In a sense, like Edgar Laprade — a teammate at the time — Buddy was a latter-day reincarnation of the super-clean-good-guy Boucher.

8 Don Raleigh

Stan Fischler (left) with New York Rangers captain Don [Bones] Raleigh (right).
Skinny enough to be nicknamed “Bag Of Bones” — later simply shortened to “Bones” — the Winnipeg native ranks high among the Blueshirts clutch playoff scorers. During the 1950 seven-game Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Red Wings, Raleigh won two matches all by himself with sudden-death tallies. A sportsman to a fault, Don, Buddy O’Connor and Edgar Laprade — all centers and all on the same team — gave New York the cleanest trio of pivots in New York hockey annals. Eventually, Raleigh’s leadership qualities led management to name him captain.

9 Jean Ratelle

Canadian hockey player Jean Ratelle of the New York Rangers watches the action, blood running from a bandaged cut on his head, during a game, 1970s. (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)
Canadian hockey player Jean Ratelle of the New York Rangers watches the action, blood running from a bandaged cut on his head, during a game, 1970s. (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

Tall and terrific, Gentleman Jean centered for his Junior (Guelph Biltmores) pal, right wing Rod Gilbert and left wing Vic Hadfield. So productive was the trio that it was named the GAG (Goal A Game) Line. Ratelle often was compared to another legendary center, Montreal’s Jean Beliveau. Like Beliveau, Jean made it to the Hall of Fame. Based on the clean manner in which he performed, one might have guessed that Ratelle was a disciple of Don Raleigh, although Jean never achieved the heights of playoff heroic’s reached by Bones.