Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Ranger Goalie Makes History
On March 9, 2008, Henrik Lundqvist posted his ninth shutout this season. That tied the record of Ranger great-Eddie Giacomin.
I am certain the rafters were ringing with the chant of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” when the buzzer sounded to end the game in 1967 when Giacomin recorded his shutout. It was his first full year in The Big Apple, and he led the league in wins as well as shutouts. Always a free spirit, (tell me, what goalie isn’t?), he often wandered from his net to play the puck, skating with it and passing it to his forwards.
He won the Vezina Trophy along with backup Gilles Villemure in 1970-71. The following year he took the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final, only to be thwarted by Bobby Orr and the Bruins.
He was a fan favourite in New York; however, early in the 1975-76 season, the Rangers decided to waive Giacomin and the Red Wings picked him up. In his first start back in New York against his old team mates, he stood patiently between the pipes before the game. In his wonderful book about hockey players entitled “The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone who has ever played in the NHL”, Andrew Podnieks has written: “In one of the most emotional nights of that rink, the fans started chanting his name during the national anthem, and wouldn’t let up. When the Rangers scored on him, they skated by and apologized.”
In the 1977-78 season the Wings decided to go with younger goalies-Ron Low and Jimmy Rutherford, both now prominent in the league in managerial positions. Eddie stayed in Detroit where he ran his own sports bar for seven years. He returned to New York to help young goalies for a few years, and was honoured when they raised his Number One sweater to the rafters in 1989. In that regard, he followed Rod Gilbert. No other Ranger had been so honoured up to that point in time.
Nowadays, you will find Eddie in the forests of Montana, building log homes for Yellowstone Traditions. I found that little gem of knowledge in “Over the Glass and Into the Crowd”, a look at the post career lives of 200 former players. Eddie loves the work, according to author Brian McFalone. In Eddie’s words: “You’re dealing with the natural elements-the trees, the forests. When you’re cutting one of them down, taking the bark off and putting them in a home-it’s something special! There’s a lot of you being put into the wood.” Spoken like a true goaltender, a little funky, a lot weird.
When the cold winds sweep down from Canada, as the Americans are wont to say, Eddie scurries to Fort Myers, Florida to knock around the little white ball.
The Rangers lucked in with Lundqvist. He was drafted in the seventh round, 205th overall, in the 2000 entry draft. At this point in the season, he has moved the Rangers into a tie with the Ottawa Senators. He has won 32 games for the Rangers, and has a respectable 2.30 goals against average. A native of Are, Sweden, he will be a key ingredient in the Rangers’ quest for the Cup in a few weeks.
With his 30th win this season, he became only the second NHL goalie to record three seasons with thirty wins to begin a career. The other? Ron Hextall.
He also tied another Ranger goalie with his three season, thirty wins total. That of course would be Eddie Giacomin.
As we approach the playoffs, there are still plenty of spots up for grabs. The playoff contender list changes daily. So do the stakes to get the number one draft pick-Steve Stamkos. Stay tuned! Keep your stick on the ice!
James Hurst-March 12, 2008