Sean McCaffrey is at it again. The author of three previous books about the New York Rangers, including the massive four-volume “Tricks of the Trade,” has just released another lengthy volume called The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History.
As the title suggests, it is a collection of the Top 100 entities that can be classified as “Ranger Killers.” These include individual players, entire teams, coaches, general managers, league officials, referees, team mascots, as well as cable stations, announcers and the circus. Also included are a number of previously unknown backup netminders who had successful NHL debuts against the Blueshirts as well as a few current and former Rangers who played well for other teams before coming to New York.
The book also lists many of the NHL’s most respected legends, such as Jean Beliveau, Frank Mahovlich, Mario Lemieux, Glenn Hall, Terry Sawchuk and others whose greatness was not limited to games against the Rangers during their respective Hall of Fame careers.
It’s a remarkably well-researched book that reaches way back into Blueshirt history. Who knew that King Clancy, that jovial little man who used to laugh it up with Bill Chadwick during intermissions of those long ago Saturday night WOR-TV games, was once a Ranger Killer?
The book is filled with interesting, and perhaps forgotten stories, like how the success of the movie “Air Force One” kept Neil Smith from signing Joe Sakic, while losing Mark Messier in the process.
While older Ranger fans may question the placement of some of the villains of the 60s, including John Ferguson, who seemed to take a special delight in punishing Rod Gilbert, both as a player and later as the Rangers’ general manager, at number 100, and Ted Green, who once had a bounty placed on his head by former Ranger President William Jennings for spearing Phil Goyette at only ten spots higher at 90 – but that’s the beauty of a book like this – a book that stirs up memories and debates.
As you can imagine, McCaffrey rounds up the usual suspects, naming many Bruins, Penguins and the entire Flyers organization from the Broad Street Bullies days. However, they are outnumbered by the Devils and Islanders selected, including Lou Lamoriello who turned the Devils into winners and is now trying to do the same with the Islanders. It should also come as no surprise that an Islander topped the list – the man Ranger fans love to hate, even decades after his retirement – Denis Potvin.
And although not specifically named on the list, McCaffrey spews copious amounts of well-earned venom at Glen Sather, who has had the Blueshirts on a treadmill to nowhere for over 23 years, and his chief enabler, team owner Jim Dolan.
As in his previous offerings, “The New York Rangers Rink of Honor and the Rafters at Madison Square Garden,” “One Game at a Time, A Season to Remember,” and the previously mentioned “Tricks of the Trade,” the author shoots from the hip and burns some bridges behind him; but “The Top 100 Villains of New York Rangers History” is a worthy addition to what will someday be the Sean McCaffrey self in your Ranger library.