It’s Time To Retire Frank Boucher’s Jersey
With the Rangers preparing to retire the iconic number 19 of franchise great Jean Ratelle on February 25, 2018, it’s time to discuss whose sweater should be the next to join Ratelle’s in the rafters at MSG.
While most hockey fans have at least heard of the famous “GAG Line,” there’s another line in Rangers’ history that deserves recognition.
The Goal-A-Game Line of Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle, and Rod Gilbert was formed during the 1965-66 season. The trio would remain together until Hadfield was sent to Pittsburgh during the 1973-74 season. Their best season was in 1971-72 when Ratelle, Hadfield, and Gilbert finished third, fourth, and fifth respectively in the NHL scoring race.
Although they failed to win a Stanley Cup, the GAG Line was nonetheless effective. But this next line won not just one Cup but two.
The “Bread Line,” was the first super trio in Rangers’ history. It consisted of three Hall of Famers — Bun Cook (left-wing), Frank Boucher (centre), and Bill Cook (right-wing).
With this Line leading the way, the Rangers won two Stanley Cups in their first seven years of existence.
In their second ever season (1927-28) this trio combined for 87-points. Remember, NHL seasons were 44-games not 82-games at the time. Such was the ability of this line that they added 18 more points in the team’s nine postseason games. This lead to them winning the Stanley Cup against the Montreal Maroons.
During the 1932-33 season, the Bread Line once again led the Blueshirts to a Stanley Cup victory. This time over the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the season expanded to 48-games, the heralded trio recorded 122-points, and 10 more points in eight postseason games.
The pivot of the line, Frank Boucher, was the spark that ignited the Cook Brothers.
As an original Ranger, Boucher holds a special, yet somewhat overlooked place in franchise history. Frank exhibited all the traits of a franchise icon, as evidenced by his seven Lady Byng Awards. As of this writing, his number 7 sweater has not yet been retired to its’ rightful place — the MSG rafters.
Many fans will surely argue that there is no point in retiring Boucher’s number 7. After all, the great Rod Gilbert — the Rangers’ franchise scoring leader — already has his number 7 hanging from the rafters.
Well the counterargument to that is quite simple. There are two number 9s hanging up there — Adam Graves and Andy Bathgate — so there should be no issue with having two number 7s.
The Rangers are currently mending fences with Jean Ratelle — it only took a few decades — so why not do the same with Boucher?
Not only was Boucher an instrumental part of two Cup-winners, but he would later return to the team as head coach for the 1939-40 season. His tenure would last until the 1953-54 season. That first season behind the bench, Boucher led the Blueshirts to a Stanley Cup championship, again against the Maple Leafs.
Boucher would then activate himself as a player at the age of 42 for the 1943-44 season while most of his players were off fighting in World War II.