The All-Time Top 9 Rangers Characters

In hockey, the “characters” come in special, and very different packages.

Some are just plain whacky such as forward Jean Pusie who, in the middle of a penalty shot — instead of shooting — got on his knees and bowed before the enemy goalie.

Others — especially goalie Gump Worsley — did and said unusual things. For example, Gump was the last Hall of Fame netminder to not wear a mask. When asked why, The Gumper shot back: “My face is my mask!”

Then there’s Puck’s Bad Boy, alias Sean Avery. How many players can say that they had a section inserted into the NHL Rule Book all because of his shenanigans in a playoff game against New Jersey? None but dear boy, Sean.

So, here we go with the “characters,” — alphabetically — and see which one is your favorite, or otherwise:

1 Sean Avery

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For starters, this fellow could play hockey and do it well; but only when the spirit moved him in the right direction. Too many times that spirit moved him the other way.

The Rule Book change could only come as a result of superior mischievousness, a major Avery trait. This was the infamous Devils-Rangers playoff in which legendary Martin Brodeur was in goal for the Devils.

During a Rangers power play, Avery camped in front of Brodeur’s crease, facing the goalie, not the action taking place behind him. Suddenly, Sean began waving his stick menacingly in front of Brodeur’s mask so continuously that teammate Chris Drury tried to push Avery away. The Rangers won the game and Sean won the headlines.

It didn’t take the NHL very long to write a new edict forbidding such behavior on pain of penalty, maybe even suspension. Hence, “The Sean Avery Rule.”

Other forms of Avery mischief include sitting outside the dressing room between periods instead of inside with teammates, not to mention non-stop “chirping” at foes with language unfit for Good Housekeeping magazine.

Interestingly, only one coach could control Avery and earn his respect and that was Tom Renney of the Rangers.

Just don’t ask John Tortorella on what his thoughts were of Sean. Or, if you do, then duck!

2 Tie Domi

Former Ranger Tie Domi talks about his son Max and his road to the NHL with the Arizona Coyotes.

Considering that he ranked among the league’s best fighters — for years and years by the way — Tie Domi also ranked among the funniest skaters around.

In fact, some of Tie’s capers inspired humor in teammates. One of them, Mathieu Schneider, was asked what he thought Domi deserved for sucker-punching Ulf Samuelsson. To which, Matt shot back, “I’d give him a bonus.”

On that same Samuelsson subject, Ulf’s teammate, Mike Richter was asked why Mike didn’t swing at Tie after the sucker-punching. To which, Richter replied: “I’m low on sticks and didn’t want to lose one on Domi’s head.”

Not that Tie was a fool; far from it. During a work stoppage, Domi was confronted by a reporter as he walked out of an NHL Players Association meeting and asked what he was doing there.

“I wasn’t much of a school person,” Tie explained. “I never paid much attention. But when you go to a union meeting and it’s about your life, you really pay attention.”

3 Ron Duguay

If ever there was a vote for New York’s “Man About Town,” this handsome fellow would get the nod. Ron Duguay didn’t have to be the wit of the party, the life of the party nor the star of the party. He just had to be there.

What he was — and still remains — is a presence. The fact that he’s one of the smartest, best-looking and best-dressed television personalities merely adds to “Doogie’s” image.

Many years ago, one of the MSG Networks producers figured that it would be a neat TV feature if Ron took The Maven down to SoHo and gave me a lesson in dressing like a Hipster.

And so we did it with Ron targeting a store on West Broadway that was as hip as a Hipster could require. From blue jeans to cowboy boots, I was dressed to the nines — maybe even nine-and-a-half’s —  and then paraded down the street with Ron and a cameraman shooting the entire event.

Duguay not only was the perfect clothes consultant, but the ideal companion for such a shoot. Watch him on the Rangers pre-game, between-period, and post-game shows and you’ll understand what a neat character he continues to be.

4 Bucko McDonald

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Some characters have to be seen to be believed and Bucko McDonald was one of them. His real name was Wilfred, but the husky defenseman got the nickname Bucko because his favorite form of body check was to whack opponents with his chest; no small feat I might add.

Frank Boucher, who coached McDonald as a Ranger, said, “Bucko was the only player I knew who bounced players off his chest. He actually ejected them off his great barrel chest and was very proud of this unusual skill. After a few beers, he’d often entertain us with tall tales of how he bounced this player and that one off his chest.”

There was, however, one night in Manhattan when McDonald took his boastfulness too far. It was New Year’s Eve and Bucko, Boucher and Rangers publicist Jim Hendy were having a few drinks on 52nd Street at Hogan’s Irish House. McDonald decided to head back to his room at the Belvedere Hotel which still stands on 48th Street between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.

As Boucher, McDonald and Hendy walked South on Eighth Avenue, an innocent pedestrian was spotted walking in their direction. Suddenly, Bucko announced, “Watch, you guys; watch me flatten this fellow.”

Boucher and Hendy couldn’t believe what then took place. “Bucko launched a wobbly run,” Boucher recalled, “He was heading for the fellow and yelling like a mad man. But as McDonald charged, the man stepped nimbly aside. Bucko fell flat, and banged his mouth on the sidewalk, shattering a piece of bridgework.”

The next day at practice, Bucko was telling teammates that his bridgework had been broken by a high stick he absorbed doing a scrimmage. Meanwhile, Boucher heard the exchange and gave his chest-bouncer some sympathy and advice. “That’s a terrible thing, Bucko. You’d better get to the dentist and get yourself another plate.”

5 Lynn Patrick

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Rangers patriarch Lester Patrick had two sons, Lynn, the elder, and Murray; each a first-class athlete. Lynn was a forward and Murray — alias Muzz — played defense. Both played a major role winning the 1940 Stanley Cup for New York before entering the armed forces at the start of World War II.

As a player, Lynn was known for his insights and all-around clever play. He was also quite the lady’s man; at least that’s what Muzz liked to say. In Eric Whitehead’s book, “The Patricks — Hockey’s Royal Family,” Muzz explained: “Lynn and Phil Watson had a couple of beautiful girlfriends and they were always in love and took their girls to the swanky places.”

Lester didn’t mind because Lynn helped produce a Cup win and eventually served Uncle Sam in the U.S. Army. But when Lynn returned to New York after the war, he was told by his father that he could not expect to be a Ranger anymore. Lester — unequivocally the boss of the team — asserted to his older son that Lynn’s legs were gone. Lester figured that Lynn was too slow to make the big-league roster.

But Lynn showed what a clever character he could be and did, in fact, gain a spot on the Rangers’ varsity roster in spite of his father’s dominance.

What Lynn did was invoke the G.I. Bill of Rights which stated that every ex-serviceman had to be given his job back when he returned from the war. And so Lester was forced to sign Lynn to a Rangers contract.

Lynn, in turn, returned the favor by once again becoming a star forward on the Blueshirts!

6 Jean Pusie

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If you were around the NHL during the early 1930s and you didn’t know better, you’d mistake this French-Canadian for a circus clown. Pusie’s antics were endless and — in some ways — better to watch than his hockey performances. “As a character,” said Boucher, who was Pusie’s teammate on the Blueshirts, “Jean was wonderful. But he didn’t have enough ability to stay with our team.”

He did, however, have several routines and a hard shot. During one game, he had a breakaway and fired the puck so hard it yanked the goalie’s mitt from his hand. Both puck and glove sailed into the net. Before the goalie could move, Pusie dived into the cage, retrieved the glove and presented it to the goaltender with a low bow. Then, he held his opponent’s bare hand up to the crowd, carefully counted the fingers and said: “Dey are all dere. You are luck-y.”

Pusie retired from hockey in 1942 and died of a heart attack in Montreal on April 23, 1956. He was 45.

“You really had to be in the rink to believe what he did,” says Boucher. “His split-second timing and crazy face movements were as good as a vaudeville. But in the end, you’d have to say he was a tragic guy. Too bad. If he was half as good on the ice as he was funny, he’d be in the Hall of Fame.”

7 Don Raleigh

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Don Raleigh was the renaissance player of his era, spanning the late 1940s into the 1950s. His nickname was “Bones” which came about in an amusing way. New York Journal-American hockey writer Barney Kremenko went to Belmont Race Track and won a pile of dough on a horse named ‘Bag of Bones.’ That night, Raleigh scored a hat trick and Kremenko — noticing how skinny the Rangers’ center was — decided to call him “Bag of Bones.”

Then, Kremenko realized Bag of Bones would be too long for a headline so he shortened it to simply Bones and from then on, Don was known as “Bones Raleigh.”

Among other unusual aspects of Raleigh as a New Yorker was the fact that he was the only Ranger who lived on Staten Island, and he spent his time on the ferry, traveling to and from Madison Square Garden, writing poetry.

8 Phil Watson

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The son of a Scottish father and a French-Canadian mother, his real name was Philippe Henri Watson. Raised in the province of Quebec, he couldn’t speak a word of English when he became a Rangers regular in the mid-1930s. Playing alongside and against English-speaking skaters, Watson was forced to learn this second language but never could quite get over the linguistic hump.

A well-told example was an episode involving Watson and the above-mentioned Bucko McDonald, when the latter skated for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In this particular game, McDonald had flattened Phil four times over two periods of hockey. When Bucko, then an NHL veteran, leveled Watson for the fifth time, the exasperated Ranger decided to insult his foe. “McDonald,” Phil shouted, “You’re nothing but a BEEN-HAS.”

Teammates loved Phil because — as a player — he was a winner in any language. It was a deft Watson pass that landed on Bryan Hextall’s stick in overtime of the 1940 Toronto-New York Final series for the Stanley Cup. This was in Game Six with the Rangers leading three games to two. Hextall deposited Watson’s pass behind goalie Turk Broda and the Rangers had won their third championship.

Years later, as Rangers head coach, Watson still had failed to master his second language and often got lost in thought, especially when he was angry. One night after his club lost a game to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks, he was asked by a newsman to comment on Windy City third-liner Hector Lalonde who had scored a three-goal hat trick.

Phil simply couldn’t find the proper description so summed his feelings up with two words: “THAT DOPE!”

9 Gump Worsley

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Lorne, as he was affectionately known to his mom, came to New York when the Blueshirts were at the very worst in the early 1950s. He also never made a secret of his feelings. When a reporter interviewed him one day, the newsman wondered, “Which team gives you the most trouble?” Unhesitatingly, Gump replied: “THE RANGERS!”

He was given his nickname because Gump closely resembled the comic book character, Andy Gump. The smallish goalie with the big heart saved some of his best put-downs for his coach, Phil Watson for whom he suffered an endless distaste.

Once, after a Rangers loss, Watson blamed his puck-stopper. “How can we win hockey games,” he pleaded with reporters, “if my goalie has a beer-barrel belly?”

When newsmen passed along Watson’s put-down to Worsley, The Gumper shot back: “It just shows you what a stupid coach we have; I only drink Johnny Walker Red!”

When a magazine writer asked Worsley about the perils of goaltending, he put it this way: “The only job worse is a javelin catcher at a track and field meet.”

Another time he was asked why he doesn’t put more effort into team practices. To that, Gump logically noted: “What for? I get enough practice during the games!”