The Shared History of the Rangers and Penguins

While the history of the Penguins and Rangers is not enough for them to consider each other rivals, they certainly have shared some heated events and interesting connections in the past. In this article, I will cover some of the noteworthy events and players these two teams have shared over the last 49 years in anticipation of their third playoff series in three years.

Past Incidents

David Shaw slashes Mario Lemieux in the throat.

The first major incident between the two teams happened on October 30, 1988. David Shaw of the Rangers made a two-handed slash across Mario Lemieux’s neck. Lemieux immediately went down and remained down for a few minutes. Pat Quinn of the Penguins went right after Shaw, brandishing his stick as a weapon. Quinn speared Shaw before the two ended up grappling and quickly went down to the ice.The entire Penguins bench got as close to Shaw as they could without jumping the boards as Shaw was escorted by them to the locker room.

The third period of that game would tally 282 PIMs and 9 game misconducts between the two teams as two separate brawls erupted in the last 5 minutes of play. Shaw would later received a 12-game suspension for his slash, which was the 3rd-longest suspension in league history at the time.


Adam Graves breaks Mario Lemieux’s hand with a slash.

In Game 2 of the 1992 Patrick Division Final, Adam Graves delivered a heel-first two-handed slash onto Lemieux’s left hand. Graves was only given a minor in game, but was hit with a 4-game suspension afterwards by the league. Those four games would be all it took for the Penguins to win the series 4-2. Lemieux was out of the line up for two weeks before returning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins. Lemieux would score 8 points in the last three games of that series sweep. Lemieux would tally an additional 7 points in the Pens’ sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks for their second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Lemieux, when asked about the play some days later, commented that he thought the Rangers coach, Roger Neilson, had sent someone after him to hurt him intentionally. Lemieux said there was no question in his mind about that.


Lundqvist vs Crosby

The most notable aspect of the Rangers-Penguins match-up as of late has been the ongoing feud between Henrik Lundqvist and Sidney Crosby. While the two superstars seem to have a lot of respect for what the other has accomplished, they have a seething dislike for each other, which has culminated in a few unusual outbursts through the years. Most notably, there is the March 4, 2010, incident where Lundqvist called Crosby out for a suspected dive and a May 11, 2014, incident in which Lundqvist doused Crosby with water during a scrum.


Tortorella fined for comments about the Penguins

During a playoff game on April 5, 2012, Derek Stepan received a knee-to-knee hit by Brooks Orpik. In the post-game interview, Tortorella ripped hard into the Penguins organization and earned himself a $20,000 fine from the league. Crosby’s response was rather cool-headed with a touch of frustration.


Regular Season Match-Ups History

The Penguins entered the league in the 1967 Expansion and first faced the Rangers on October 22, 1967. They lost 6-4, which was a respectable loss for them against an Original 6 team that year. They would manage to tie the Rangers 2-2 in their third match-up on February 10, 1968. It wouldn’t be until their 8th meeting on February 5, 1969, that the Penguins would first overcome the Rangers.

The Penguins struggled against the Rangers for years after entering the league. By the end of 1974, the historic match-up between these two teams favored the Rangers with 29 wins, 5 losses, and 7 ties. But the tide would change from then on. The Penguins regrouped to find three victories and only one loss to the Rangers in 1975 and they would continue that trend for years to come. Between the start of 1975 and 1981, the Penguins found 15 victories, 9 losses, and 5 ties.

While the Rangers found some periods of resurgence against the Penguin, their winning percentage would gradually slip over the decades. Today, the Rangers sit ahead of the Penguins with 120 wins, 32 ties, and 114 losses. (Quick note: I counted shootouts as ties.) At their height in 1989, the Rangers had 24 more wins than losses against the Penguins. Today they sit only 6 regular season victories ahead of their rival.


More Importantly: Playoff Match-Ups History

It was not until the 1981-82 season that the Rangers and Penguins were placed in the same conference (and division). Prior to that, the only opportunity for these two teams to meet in the playoffs was in the Stanley Cup Final and that simply did not happen. However, even then it took until 1989 for these two teams to find each other in the playoffs. By then, the Penguins were led by three 100-point scorers (most notably, Lemieux with 199 pts) while the Rangers’ best talent was a budding Brian Leetch who captured the Calder with 71 pts in 68 games played. Unsurprisingly, the Penguins swept the Rangers in the first round.

The Penguins would win additional series against the Rangers in 1992 (where they went on to win the Stanley Cup), 1996, and 2008. However, the Rangers have reversed that trend with a 4-3 series win in 2014 and a 4-1 series win in 2015.

Notable Shared Players Throughout the Years

This year’s rosters will include five players who are playing against their former squad. The players and their stats for when they played for their upcoming opponent are as follows:


Interesting note: The Rangers traded Pascal Dupuis on February 27, 2007, to the Atlanta Thrashers along with their 3rd round pick in 2007. That 3rd round pick was then included in a deal between the Thrashers and Penguins. The Penguins ultimately selected Robert Bortuzzo with that pick that originally belonged to the Rangers.

jagr-mulletJarogmir Jagr

The most prolific player to have spent time on both teams would have to be Jarogmir Jagr. Jagr is a historic figure in both franchises. He sits second in career games played, goals, assists, and points for the Penguins, behind only Mario Lemieux. He was a core piece of the Penguins team for 11 years, including the two Stanley Cup teams he played for in his teenage years. Jagr won five Art Ross trophies, two Pearson trophies, and one Hart trophy with the Penguins.

While Jagr was only a Ranger for four years and only won a Pearson trophy with them, he is remembered as one of their greatest players. He holds their single season records in goals and points. He elevated a team that was outside the playoff bubble into the post-season (even if only for a first round exit) in his four years with the Rangers.

Trading Partners in the 90s: Zubov, Nedved, Samuelsson, Robitaille, Hatcher, Kovalev, and Stevens

The Rangers made a significant trade with the Penguins in 1995 to try and repeat their 1994 Stanley Cup run. The Rangers gave up Sergei Zubov and Petr Nedved in exchange for Ulf Samuelsson and Luc Robitaille.

Ulf Samuelsson as a former Rangers enforcer and current Rangers assistant coach.

Zubov and Nedved would combine for 233 points in 218 games with the Penguins. Through a 1996 trade for Kevin Hatcher, Zubov found his home in Dallas. Hatcher was then traded from the Penguins to the Rangers on September 30, 1999 for Peter Popovic.


Nedved returned to the Rangers via another trade in 1998 that sent Alexei Kovalev to the Penguins with some additional, lesser pieces going each way. Kovalev would be part of an eight-person trade back to the Rangers by the Penguins in 2003.

Robitaille would produce 117 points in 146 games with the Rangers before a 1997 trade for former Penguins star Kevin Stevens sent Robitaille to Los Angeles for his second of three stays with the Kings.

Samuelsson would stick with the Rangers for four years and accumulate 60 points and 475 PIMs in 287 games. He was traded to Detroit in 1999 for a package of draft picks. Samuelsson is presently an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.

imageAndy Bathgate

Finally, Rangers legend and Hall of Famer Andy Bathgate played for both franchises. Bathgate was a long-time Ranger who was the Rangers’ leading scorer from 1956 to 1963. As a result, he sits at fourth in career goals, assists, and points for the Blueshirts.

By the time the 1967 Expansion Draft came, Bathgate was playing for the Red Wings, who decided to leave him unprotected. The Penguins claimed him in the 19th round as the 112th overall pick. Bathgate scored the first goal of the Penguins franchise and led the team in scoring for their inaugural year. The Penguins would play him for one more year before trading him to the Vancouver  Blazers of the WHA.

In 2009, the Penguins selected his grandson Andy Bathgate, III, with the #151 overall pick in the 5th round of the entry draft. The younger Bathgate is currently playing for the Columbus Cottonmouths of the SPHL. Unfortunately, the elder Bathgate passed away on February 26, 2016, at the age of 83.


A Brief History of “Abuse of an Official” Suspensions in the NHL

Feb 8, 2016 by @Chris_Beardy

Dennis Wideman’s 20 game suspension for abuse of an official has been of the most widely discussed topics for the NHL in the past week. It is a complex situation as news has come to light that Dennis Wideman was concussed shortly before he delivered a cross check to the back of linesman Don Henderson.

I would like to take a look back through the league’s history regarding the rules and other incidents relating to “abuse of an official.” I intend to describe at least a single incident in every decade of the NHL’s history and I will add in videos whenever possible. My hope is that the recounting of the league’s past will help open up discussion on Wideman’s case even further. I believe there are some interesting parallels between the Wideman incident and some of the other incidents below.

January 14, 1919

The earliest case of disciplinary action for “abuse of an official” I could find was a report that Toronto Maple Leaf defenseman Ken Randall was fined $10 by the NHL. He reportedly called referee Steve Vair a “son of a bitch.” Randall had a reputation during his playing years and was one of the most penalized, fined, and suspended players of his days, both because of his play as a tough guy and his use of foul language.

April 13,1927

To date, Billy Coutu has been the only player in NHL history to receive a lifetime ban. While playing for Boston in Game 4 of the 1927 Stanley Cup Final against the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Billy Coutu began a bench-clearing brawl between the two teams by punching referee Jerry LaFlamme and tackling assistant referee Billy Bell. It’s reported that Bruins coach Art Ross instructed Coutu to attack the officials but Ross was never disciplined.

The suspension was lifted on October 8, 1929, so that Coutu could play in affiliated minor leagues and he was ultimately reinstated by the league in 1932 after lobbying by Leo Dandurand, owner and coach of the Montreal Canadiens at the time, but Coutu never played in the NHL again.

Summer 1938

It was just prior to the 1938-39 season that the league officially added Rule 40– Physical Abuse of Officials – to the league rule book. (Note: The rule used to be #41 and #76 before becoming #40 as it is today.)

April 12, 1942

Jack Adams, coach for the Detroit Red Wings, was suspended for the remainder of the playoffs, after attacking referee Mel Hardwood. The Red Wings were up 3-0 in the series at the time of the incident and would go on to lose the series in a reverse sweep to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

January 23, 1946

Technically, I shouldn’t have this incident on the list, but I found it too interesting to omit. Former player and future Hall of Famer King Clancy was refereeing a game between the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Black Hawks when he was stabbed by a woman in the crowd. In those days, the boards had chicken wire instead of plexiglass so this woman was able to spear Clancy with her hatpin while he was up against the boards. At the next stoppage of play, Clancy refused to resume the game until the woman had been ejected from the arena.

March 13, 1955

Perhaps the most notorious case of “abuse of an official” occurred near the end of the 1954-55 season when Maurice Richard punched a referee. Richard had been high-sticked by Boston Bruins defenseman Hal Laycoe, causing a gash that later required five stitches to close. Richard reportedly skated at Laycoe with his stick, striking the Bruins player in the shoulder. Linesman Cliff Thompson attempted to restrain Richard, which caused Richard to turn around and punch Thompson in the head, knocking him unconscious. Richard was thrown out of the game and nearly arrested. Bruins’ management dissuaded the police from handcuffing Richard, instead allowing Richard to go to the hospital.

Perhaps the most interesting note is that in addition to his head wound, Richard suffered from headaches and stomach pain following the high-stick, which suggest he may have been concussed prior to his attack. This outburst was Richard’s second incident with an on-ice official that season, having slapped a linesman in the face only three months prior. He was fined $250 for that.

The suspension in part sparked the Richard Riots in Montreal. The Richard Riots have much more complicated roots than just the perceived unfair treatment of Richard by the league so I will leave this as some extra reading for those interested. And while video of the game exists, it seems that Richard’s actions were not caught on film. So below is a re-enactment of what reportedly happened.

Summer of 1966

The league added what is now Rule 40.4 to the official rules. Rule 40.4 declares that a player found to be deliberately applying physical force to an on-ice official will receive a game misconduct and automatic three game suspension.

February 8, 1967

In a game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, each team had a player deliberately strike a referee, leading to a three game suspension for each player. Rangers’ forward Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion was suspended for cross-checking linesman Walter Atanas and then shooting an empty beer can at him while leaving the playing surface. Then Habs enforcer John Ferguson was suspended for punching linesman Brent Caselman. During that same game, Habs defenseman Jean-Guy Talbot was fined $100 for “revolting language” used towards the officials.

April 2, 1969

My first actual video is of the incident that earned Forbes Kennedy a 4 game suspension, which served as the bookend to his career. Over the course of only a few minutes, the Toronto center goes after Boston goalie Gerry Cheevers near the end of an embarrassing 10-0 playoff loss to the Bruins. Forbes punches an official, knocking him to the ground, is hit by no less than three Boston fans reaching over the glass while trying to fight Cheevers, and lands a headbutt on John MacKenzie in his finishing bout. Kennedy’s retirement following this incident was ultimately due to knee injuries. He never served his suspension.

 April 25, 1982

Terry O’Reilly of the Boston Bruins was suspended for 10 games after he struck a referee Andy van Hellemond who had intervened in a fight he was having. O’Reilly already had a 3 game suspension in 1977 for throwing his gloves at and bumping into referee Dennis Morel. He also received an 8 game suspension for being the first player into the stands in the infamous game where Mike Milbury beat a fan with the fan’s own shoe. Below is a video of the 1982 incident.

Summer of 1982

The NHL added what are now Rules 40.2 and 40.3, which create harsher penalties for more deliberate and injurious cases of “physical abuse of an official.” Rule 40.2 is the one by which Wideman has been suspended for 20 games while Rule 40.3 is the rule that carries an automatic 10 game suspension. This was the last major revision to this set of rules.

October 30, 1983

During a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers, Chicago centerman Tom Lysiak attacked referee Ron Foyt, earned an automatic 20 game suspension. Lysiak had become increasingly frustrated at being thrown out of the face off circle during the game. He retaliated against Foyt by jabbing him in the back of the knee with his stick during a face off. Lysiak and the NHLPA appealed the suspension to the NHL Board of Governors unsuccessfully.

November 12, 1991

Los Angeles Kings head coach Tom Webster was ejected from a game for throwing a stick onto the ice and hitting referee Kerry Fraser in the skates. The league decided that Webster, after four ejections in only two seasons, would serve a 12 game suspension for his actions. At the time, it was the longest a coach had ever been suspended by the league.

January 26, 1992

Perennial youngster Jaromir Jagr, then with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was suspended for 10 games after intentionally skating into referee Ron Hoggarth from behind during a tense game against Washington. Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens were also tossed out of the game in the final minutes although neither committed actions requiring suspensions. Unfortunately, the video below does not capture Jagr skating into the official, but it shows all of these guys getting thrown out.

September 19, 2000

Gordie Dwyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning received one of the league’s longest suspensions to date, 23 games, after a game against the Capitals. Dwyer had left the penalty box looking for a fight in what ended up becoming a bench-clearing brawl. Dwyer verbally and physically abused officials while being restrained and had left the penalty box to do so. Those infractions carried 3 game, 10 game, and 10 game suspensions, respectively.

April 1, 2002; February 11, 2003; February 2007

Andre Roy was a hothead who was suspended for abuse of an official on three separate occasions. Each of his suspensions were just 3 games in length, but his 2002 incident also carried an automatic 10 game suspension for leaving the penalty box. Below is his 2003 incident.

January 7, 2011

Jesse Boulerice, while playing in the AHL for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, was handed a 10 game suspension for intentionally charging into a referee after the referee got in his way during play. Boulerice may be better known for his stick attack against Andrew Long when the two were playing in the OHL or his stick attack against Ryan Kesler on October 10, 2007. The former attack was a baseball swing to the head that resulted in Boulerice being charged with assault. The latter cross-check to the face earned Boulerice a 25-game suspension from the NHL. Both caused considerable damage to the victim.

May 22, 2014

During the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, Danny Carcillo of the New York Rangers elbowed the linesman restraining him twice, resulting in a 10-game suspension. Carcillo had this suspension reduced down to six games upon appeal to league commissioner, Gary Bettman.

I tried to summarize at least one major incident from every decade without going overboard. There is a surprise number of short suspensions and fines for “abuse of an official” through the NHL’s history. Are there any major incidents you think I missed? Please let me know.