Nearly 30 years after he retired, a major league Rangers nemesis still is being reviled at every single home game.
Therefore, under the category “Most Disliked Blueshirt Foe,” Islanders Hall of Famer Denis Potvin stands at the very top of the list. There’s no challenger in sight, not even from Martin Brodeur.
The irony of all National Hockey League ironies is the fact that many contemporary patrons at Rangers home games likely don’t realize the roots of this animosity.
Why would a gentleman and scholar such as Monsieur Potvin — currently an analyst for Florida Panthers television — kindle such endless and fiery animosity?
Well, folks, it all goes back to the 1978-79 season when Potvin body-checked the Rangers’ rising Swedish star Ulf Nilsson hard enough to break Nilsson’s right ankle.
The fact that Ulfie later insisted — over and over again, by the way — that Potvin’s whack job was not dirty is irrelevant to this discussion.
That it was a clean check never has been accepted by the jury consisting of some million or so Rangers supporters.
But, make no mistake; Denis may head the hate list, but there’ve been other well-hooted opponents who easily qualify as villains or, at the very least, toughest enemies.
From The Maven’s first-hand look for over a half-century of watching, here’s my alphabetical list. You may disagree and not get a game misconduct.
Before we begin, here are the names that just missed the cut aka dishonorable mention: Bill Barilko, Bobby Clarke, David Clarkson, Nels Crutchfield, Bill Ezinicki, Fernie Flaman, Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Maurice Richard