50 wins for the first time

Mark Messier, New York Rangers, (Photo by Steve Crandall/Getty Images)

What happened on April 16 in the history of the New York Rangers

On this date in 1992, the New York Rangers won their 50th game of the season, the first time the team had reached this milestone. They did so by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-1 at Madison Square Garden in a game that saw Mike Gartner reach the 40-goal mark and Darren Turcot and Sergey Nemchinov score their 30.

The success of the Presidents Cup season did not translate into the playoffs as they lost in the Divisional Finals to the Penguins in six games.

50 wins became a realistic goal when the league expanded the season to 78 games in 1970-71 and it took 21 years for Rangers to accomplish. The Rangers were the third Original Six to score 50 wins, after Montreal in 1971-72 and Boston in 1972-73. Detroit hit the mark in 2001 and Chicago in 2009. The Toronto Maple Leafs have never won 50 games in a single season.

Rangers 1971-72 was the closest they came, winning 49 games. Three other Ranger teams topped the 50th winning mark with the most in a single season by the 2014-15 Presidents Cup winning team with a 53-game franchise record.

Of course, that’s a mark the Rangers hope to reach this season, as 48 wins went into their morning meeting with the Detroit Red Wings.

Historic Gartner Season

Mike Gartner is often overlooked when discussing great players from the long history of the New York Rangers. Although he came to New York late in his career, he was still a prolific goalscorer and was a team captain and his personality was impeccable.

On this date in 1992, Mike Gartner took the 500th pass of his career. In doing so, he became the first National Hockey League player to score his 500th goal, receive his 500th assist, earn a 1,000th point and play in his 1,000th game all in the same season.

The assist came in a 7-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. Gartner scored a goal and assisted.

The 1991-1992 Rangers were to win the Stanley Cup. They won the Presidents Cup, Marc Messier won the Hart Cup, and Brian Leach was the Norris Award winner. Everything went south in the playoffs when slasher Adam Greaves broke Mario Lemieux’s wrist, but that’s a story for another day.

For the 32-year-old Gartner, this was his second consecutive season of 40 goals and he will top that number again one year later. Keep this in mind. Rangers have over 40 goals only 24 times. Gartner is the only player to have done this three times. In fact, Jan Ratel and Marian Gaborek are the only Rangers to have done so more than once alongside Gartner.

One of the great tragedies of the 1994 Stanley Cup was that the Rangers replaced Gartner with Toronto for Glenn Anderson because Mike Keenan was convinced that Gartner was not a playoff player.

Ironically, in 1994, Gartner scored five goals and had 11 points in 18 playoffs with Toronto. Anderson scored three goals and six points in 23 playoff games with Rangers. Would Rangers have won the cup with Gartner instead of Anderson? Only the hockey gods know.

birthdays today

24 NHL players were born on April 16, but only one of them wore a Rangers uniform.

Harry York Born on this date in 1974 in Ponoka, Alberta. York was a center signed by the St. Louis Blues as an uncut free agent. He was traded to Rangers for Mike Eastwood and played just seven games in New York over the course of two seasons before switching to Pittsburgh. He was healthy in his seven matches with Rangers.

Harry York, Mike York and Dan Newman are the only players partly named after the city they played in. Fundamentalists will argue that Igor Shestyorkin should be included. Rangers actually drafted a player named Joe Ranger in 1986, but he signed with the team.

Numbers

Only six wins in 15 playoffs on April 16.

Play-offs: 15
Wins: 5
Losses: 7
Overtime wins: 1
Overtime losses: 2
Winning percentage: 40%

Regular Season Matches: 4
Organization wins: 2
Regulation losses: 2
Points Percentage: .500

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