PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
ONE NIGHT IN MANHATTAN
It happens all the time. Player X plays for a single team for a long time. Player X makes it to numerous All-Star Games, is named the best in his league at his position, leads his team historically in different categories, becomes a fan favourite, and then gets older. His performance, while still above average, begins to regress, and ultimately, he gets the rug pulled out from under him and is let go by the club to whom he has given his career.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t happen ALL the time. But it probably happens with enough frequency that we aren’t really surprised when we see it unfold before our eyes. However, there are times when that player, on his new team, goes back to face his old team and it becomes must-watch television. We’ve seen that happen with former stars like Guy Lafleur going back to Montreal, Mats Sundin returning to Toronto and even Craig Anderson playing again in Ottawa.
One such case went down in the fall of 1975, when a pair of former Vezina Trophy winners were either traded or waived within days of each other by the team for which they had toiled together for years.
Our story starts in the days of the six-team National Hockey League. Jobs were few and holding on to them meant everything for the 120 or so players who regularly enjoyed the privilege of holding one of those spots. Of course, getting there was the dream of every man who rode the buses and slogged night after night for a taste of that golden apple. And for the players who were up there, they were willing to do pretty much anything to stay in ‘The Show’.
I’ve told this story before, but Marcel Pronovost was born in 1930. By 1950, he was playing in the NHL. He played in the league for twenty years, seventeen of which were in the six-team league. His first fifteen seasons were played in the Motor City with the Red Wings. His last five were in Toronto. He played in 1,206 games in a time when playing 1,000 was a major achievement.
“Everyone was tough enough to take care of themselves,” Pronovost told Dave Waddell of the Montreal Gazette back in 2007. “We had to because if we didn’t take care of ourselves, we knew we’d get sent to the minors. That’s the place you really wanted to avoid because that’s where the real enforcers were.”
Gilles Villemure was born in Trois Rivieres, Quebec in May of 1940. He was 18 years old when he began playing professionally. He played three games with the Troy Bruins of the International League. The next year, he was back in Junior hockey playing in Guelph with the Biltmores. In 1960-61, he began a stretch of three seasons in which he played with four teams in the Eastern League. By 1962-63, he was the main man in goal for the Vancouver Canucks of the Western League.
In 1963-64, he had moved up to the American League with the Baltimore Clippers. He also got a proverbial cup of coffee with the New York Rangers. Jacques Plante was the first-string goalie on that team, but Villemure managed to get into five games with the Broadway Blueshirts. The Rangers were not a playoff team and neither Plante’s nor Villemure’s numbers were great. That said, the young goalie had his first taste of big-league action.
It would not be his last. It would take Villemure a little while, though, to get back to the Rangers. Over the next three years, he would be the starting goalie for the WHL’s Canucks and AHL’s Clippers. In the three seasons between 1967-68 and 1969-70, he would be on the shuttle between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rangers. By the spring of 1970, Villemure was 29 years old.
By the time the next season would start, he was 30. It had taken him a while, but he finally made the big club. He would split the action during the 1970-71 campaign with the long-time New York starter, Eddie Giacomin. Giacomin joined the Rangers for the 1965-66 season. He was the main guy, but he shared the net with Cesare Maniago and Don Simmons. The team finished sixth out of the six NHL clubs that year.
The next year, the Rangers, with Giacomin playing 68 out of 70 games, made the playoffs, but lost in the first round in four straight games to the Montreal Canadiens, who lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is a good time to remind you that from this point forward, the league would have twelve teams, and would grow from there.
In the first year of expansion, the Rangers finished second in the East Division with 90 points in 74 games, sixteen games above .500. Giacomin played in 66 of those games. The next year, they finished third in the East with 91 points in 76 games. Giacomin made 70 appearances that season. In 1969-70, five teams finished with more than 90 points in the East. The Rangers and Montreal Canadiens finished with the same records and the same number of points. The Rangers were awarded fourth place on the tiebreaker. Again, they did not advance after the first round of the playoffs.
The next year, 1970-71, was the first with Giacomin and Villemure together as their goaltending tandem. The Rangers went 49-18-11 for 109 points in 78 games. They finished second in the East Division behind the Boston Bruins. The Bruins had the adjectives ‘Big’ and ‘Bad’ in front of their name most of the time. Boston had won the Stanley Cup the previous spring on the iconic Bobby Orr ‘Flying Through the Air’ goal.
In the spring of 1971, the Rangers won a playoff series! They defeated the Leafs in six games. As for the Bruins, they were knocked off by the Canadiens in seven games. Montreal then beat the Minnesota North Stars while Chicago was dumping the Blueshirts in seven. The Stanley Cup final series went seven before the Habs came from behind to edge the Hawks 3-2 in the final game.
One important statistic from that ’70-’71 season was that the tandem of Giacomin and Villemure won the Vezina Trophy as the goalies who turned in the best goals against average in the league! The duo would be together for five consecutive seasons. The Rangers would make the postseason in each of those years. In 1972, they made it to the Stanley Cup Final but lost to the Bruins.
When you think of that Rangers team over that period, it’s almost unbelievable that they only made it to one Stanley Cup Final.
In the summer of 1973, an intermission series was put together from a skills competition called Showdown in the NHL. Numerous star players and goalies were brought in to participate in the television feature. The Hawks’ Jim Pappin was the champion shooter and Gilles Villemure was the winning goaltender when the smoke finally cleared. Showdown was one of those things that kept eyeballs glued to the television screens during the breaks between periods over the course of that season. For his work in the contest, Villemure got a cheque for $19,700.
For Giacomin, who had been the man in Manhattan for ten years from 1965 to the spring of 1975, and Villemure, who spent five seasons with ‘Eddie’, the pair had become synonymous with Rangers’ hockey. Emile Francis had been the general manager and the architect of that Rangers’ team. In the fall of 1975, Giacomin remembered something Francis had said to him and that was, “As long as I’m in New York, you’ll be with me.”
Giacomin’s first season of professional hockey was 1958-59. He was 19. He managed to get into four games with the Washington Presidents of the old Eastern League. The next year, he got on with the EHL’s Clinton Comets and played eight games with them before going over to the New York Rovers and getting into 32 contests with them. That same season, he played a game with the Montreal Royals of the Eastern Pro League, and he got a taste of AHL action by playing a game with the Providence Reds.
Starting in 1960-61, he played five full years with the Reds. The dearth of jobs for goalies in the NHL meant that a lot of good netminders had to work hard and bide their time in the minors until an opportunity came a-knocking. Mind you, Giacomin kind of forced the situation because he had played so well for so long in Providence that a few NHL teams, most notably, the Rangers and Red Wings, saw him and coveted him.
After the 1964-65 season, on May 18, to be exact, the Rangers sent Jim Mikol, Aldo Guidolin, Sandy McGregor and goaltender Marcel Paille to Providence to get Giacomin. His first month with the Rangers, in 1965-66, he looked great. But then the league may have begun to figure the new goalie out and his play fell off. He lost his starting job.
In 1966-67, he found whatever it was he had lost and recorded nine shutouts to lead the league. He played in 68 games, led the league in minutes played, shots against and total saves. He came second in the Hart Trophy voting to Stan Mikita. More importantly, Giacomin backstopped the Rangers into a playoff spot, something that had not experienced in five years.
He was a first-team all-star in that season as well. In fact, that was the first campaign of five straight that Giacomin was either a first-team or second-team all-star. At the end of the 1970-71 season, as I mentioned earlier, he and Villemure were awarded the Vezina Trophy. But, in that stretch, Giacomin was also receiving votes for the Hart Trophy with pronounced regularity. That was an indication of how important he had been to the team’s success.
Out of everything he had done in his career, though, what he did in the spring of 1972 may have been the greatest.
In the first round of the playoffs, the second-place Rangers’ opponent was the third-place defending Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens. The teams finished a point apart in the standings. After five games, the boys from Broadway held a 3-2 lead in games. The sixth match was in Montreal at the Forum. After two periods, the score was tied 2-2. But, twenty-nine seconds after the opening faceoff of the third frame, Walt Tkaczuk took a pass from Bill Fairbairn and fired a thirty-footer from the slot past the glove of Ken Dryden for the series winning goal.
As soon as the third period siren sounded, Emile Francis sprinted down to the Rangers’ dressing room. The first Rangers’ player he found outside the room was former Hab Bernie Geoffrion. The two hugged for what might have seemed like minutes. “We finally beat the f*****s,” Francis shouted into Geoffrion’s ear.
At the door to the room, Giacomin was intensely hugging and lifting everyone who came in. In the past two playoff series against Giacomin and the Rangers, the Canadiens had won them both in sweeps. In fact, in the last eleven playoff meetings, Montreal had won every single one of them. The emotion of the moment hit the Rangers’ goalie hard, and he immediately fell to his hands and knees as time ran out in the game. He skated directly to the room and forgot about the handshake line.
He didn’t even realize what he had done until someone asked him afterward. “Gee, I wasn’t trying to snub anybody. It’s just that….well, I’ve never beaten Montreal in a series before. And with a guy at the other end like Dryden, I was exhausted just trying to equal one of his games. It still hasn’t sunk in. Maybe it will tomorrow.”
Montreal carried the play in the opening period and outshot New York 11-9. There were a lot of moments in which the Habs’ pressure was relentless and Giacomin addressed that after the game. “I’ve never been under so much sustained pressure in my life,” he said.”
In the third period, they came at him again, this time with Yvan Cournoyer setting up Frank Mahovlich. “I saw Yvan come around the defense,” Giacomin said, “and it looked like he had no intention of shooting. I decided to anticipate the pass to Mahovlich, so I flung myself across the net and I think I got the jump on him because he shot it into my pads.”
As time was winding down and Montreal was pressing to tie the game, Giacomin got a toe on a Jacques Lemaire slapper that had been going for the corner. Then, in the last minute of the game, with two Rangers in the box and the Canadiens swarming, Giacomin made a save and controlled the puck. Dryden was off for an extra attacker and the Rangers’ goalie saw an opportunity. He fired the puck as hard as he could, and it missed the open net by a hair.
“That’s the third time I’ve come within inches,” he told reporters afterward. “But what the hell, that was only icing on the cake.”
The Rangers’ next opponent would be the Chicago Black Hawks. They had made it to the Cup final in 1971 but lost to Montreal. In terms of records, Chicago finished two points back of New York. The series would start in The Windy City. Both games were close, but the Rangers took each of them. Game Three was another close match, and again, it was New York that won 3-2. So, Game Four was an elimination game.
Bobby Hull scored to give the Hawks a lead less than six minutes into the game. But the Rangers scored the next three and they also got the last three in a 6-2 win to salt the series away. Giacomin hurt his knee in the first game of the series and Gilles Villemure took over to win the next three. Defenseman Brad Park talked about his teammates after this one was over.
“We’re in the finals because of the work done by 17, 18 or 19 men. When someone got hurt, someone else took his place and did the job. Gilles Villemure was exceptional in the goal during the last three games. Some of the saves he made, I thought, were unbelievable.” To illustrate the magnitude of this victory, consider that this was the first four-game sweep by the Rangers since the playoff series were extended to best-of-seven in 1939.
There would be a week between the end of this game against Chicago and the start of the Cup final series against Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins. Boston had advanced by knocking off the Toronto Maple Leafs and the St. Louis Blues. They lost just one game through the two series. Giacomin was aware of his next opponent but wasn’t really ready to start concerning himself with them.
“I’m more concerned right now about my knee. It’s coming along as expected.” His knee would come along fine. He would be physically ready to go come April 30 when the teams would face off at Boston Garden for Game One. But the game would be a difficult one for him and his Ranger teammates.
The Rangers got on the board first on a Dale Rolfe goal less than four minutes into the game. But, after Fred Stanfield and Ken Hodge put the Bruins ahead later in the opening period, Derek Sanderson and Hodge again each scored shorthanded goals within 45 seconds of each other late in the frame to break it open. Hodge completed the hat trick just past the halfway mark of the middle stanza.
But before the third period was ten minutes old, the Rangers scored four unanswered goals to tie the game. Boston’s Garnet Bailey won the game with 2:16 remaining in regulation time after he took a pass from Mike Walton and the Bruins skated away with a 6-5 decision.
Emile Francis went back to Gilles Villemure in Game Two and he held the Bruins to just two goals. The problem was that Eddie Johnston, in the Bruins’ goal, was keeping the Rangers to just one. Johnny Bucyk got one past Villemure late in the first period. Rod Gilbert tied the game before the middle frame was half done. But Ken Hodge smashed the hearts of New York fans by deflecting the puck past Villemure for the game-winner on a two-man power play with just over eight minutes left in regulation time.
Game Three would be played at Madison Square Garden, on Thursday, May 4, and it would be the ninth meeting between the two clubs in 1971-72. The Bruins had won seven of the previous eight. It’s well documented that the fans in each city dislike each other and the other city’s teams pretty much equally. This game was played under the watchful eyes of a frustrated group of Ranger fans.
According to Buddy Martin, a columnist for the Mount Vernon (N.Y.) Daily Argus, the home fans “pelted the Bruins with coins, peanuts, cups, cigarette lighters, flashlight batteries and anything else they could lift.” Wayne Cashman talked about that after the game. “They talk about Boston fans. I’ll bet you there were a hundred pennies in front of our bench. Boy, this really brought New York people right to their class. One of those pennies hits you in the eye and your career is over.”
Gerry Cheevers, who was back in goal in this game, felt similarly and had a suggestion as to what to do with some of these fans. “Arrest them. It’s not hard to find a couple of them. Arrest them and publicize it. I don’t care if it’s a little old lady or a little boy.”
We’ll never know if the Bruins were unnerved by the fans or if they just didn’t have their legs, but the Rangers controlled this game to the tune of a 5-2 victory. It looked like Ed Giacomin was back to his form in this game. WRN Sports writer Dick Yerg wrote that Giacomin played an “outstanding game. At least ten of the 39 Boston shots required Giacomin to come up with sparkling stops.”
The Rangers lost a couple of defensemen, Jim Neilson and Ab DeMarco, in the win and Montreal Star columnist Red Fisher asked whether the loss of two might have an effect as the series wore on. But the bottom line was that New York was back in the series with a chance to tie it up on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins were unhappy after their loss in the third game of the series, and they came out looking ornery. The first fight in the game took place 99 seconds in. Bobby Rousseau and Derek Sanderson were the combatants. Less than four minutes later, Bobby Orr got a puck past Giacomin. Less than three minutes after that, Orr scored again to give his team a 2-0 lead. Boston skated out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 win.
Orr was playing with the knowledge that he would need surgery on his knee once the season was over but don’t tell the Rangers’ players that. They won’t believe you. “That Orr is just something,” Vic Hadfield, the captain of the Blueshirts said when speaking with the press after the game. “Don’t tell me he’s injured. He just stands back and controls the game.”
“I marvel at what Orr does every time I see him play,” said Don Awrey, a teammate of the great number 4. “It seems like he does something a little different in each game. He’s just a great guy. He doesn’t say much, but when he says something, you know he’s saying it for the good of the whole club. Everyone knows we depend on him. We know that this club goes when Bobby goes, and it slows down when Bobby slows down.”
Emile Francis praised the two backstops. “Both goalkeepers were solid. On the last play of the second period, Johnston made a move to kick out a Hadfield shot and that was the big play of the game in my book. If he doesn’t make that save, we’re only behind 3-2 and we can play a little differently in that final period.”
Game Five in Boston was played on Tuesday night. Francis went back to Villemure for this one and the Bruins had first period leads of 1-0 and 2-1. But a pair of third period goals by Bobby Rousseau allowed the Rangers to come away with a 3-2 win and stay alive in the series and going back home. Villemure made 38 saves in the game and was one of the reasons for the Ranger victory.
Rousseau was a guy who didn’t play a lot and was kind of an afterthought for Francis. “I didn’t play Rousseau for the first two periods,” Francis told reporters, “and I didn’t plan to use him much in the third. But when he scored that first goal, I decided to keep him out there.” The two goals equalled half of all his goal production when he played in Minnesota with the North Stars in 1970-71.
For his part, Rousseau had been a third and fourth liner through much of his NHL career. “When you sit on the bench, you watch the game and save your energy. You are fresher when you get in. I felt very, very good when I got on the ice. Yes, I knew I hadn’t scored on Boston in a long, long time. You have to keep trying and eventually, things will turn your way.”
When told that the Bruins had six cases of champagne in their dressing room in anticipation of winning the Cup that night, Rousseau answered quickly, “You don’t sell a bearskin before you kill the bear.”
There was a moment late in the second period when the Bruins were leading 2-1 and looking to add to their lead. The Rangers were two men short for almost a minute and a half. “Brad Park, Dale Rolfe and Bruce MacGregor played almost that entire time for us,” Francis said, “and they turned the game around. Villemure made four or five great saves to keep us in the game.
“I went into the room between the second and third periods and told the team, ‘You got four guys who saved the game for you, so go out and win it!’”
Villemure was told in the afternoon by Francis that he would be playing that night. Someone asked him following the game if he was nervous about playing in an elimination game. “Sure, like usual.” He acknowledged that this game was important. “I was stuck in a tough spot. If we lose, we’re out.” He was asked if he was rattled at all by the first Boston goal. “No, that first goal doesn’t bother me. The game is sixty minutes long.”
Johnny Bucyk had a chance to tie the game from close to the net in the last thirty seconds. Villemure stopped him and was asked to describe the moment afterward. “That last shot was kind of rolling and I put my glove out and grabbed it. It was about this far from the goal line.” As he said the words “this far”, he held his hands about four inches apart.
So, the teams headed back to Madison Square Garden for the sixth game of the series.
The Bruins had been criticized in Boston for their lack of intensity in Game Five. Tom Johnson promised that would change back in New York. “We have to do things different this time,” was the warning that was issued to the Rangers by Johnson and the Bruins.
When the Rangers’ Walt Tkaczuk was off for hooking halfway through the opening twenty minutes, Bobby Orr capitalized by putting a power play marker past Villemure for the first goal of the game. There was no scoring in the second, but as Dale Rolfe’s holding penalty was ticking down early in the third, Orr set up Wayne Cashman to make the score 2-0. Another Cashman goal later in the period rounded out the scoring.
It was over. The Bruins had won their second Cup in three years. But the Rangers had to take some consolation in the fact that they had made it this far. It was their first Cup final appearance since 1950. They hadn’t won a Cup since 1940. It wouldn’t be until 1994 that they would win another.
By the end of October of 1975, the Rangers were 4-5-1 and in last place in the Patrick Division. Emile Francis felt that changes had to happen, and fast. According to a November 1 Newsday piece by Tim Moriarty and Greg Aiello, Francis had placed the entire Rangers’ team on waivers to see what the players could bring back. A number of the team’s players were claimed, but Francis recalled the waivers on many of the named men.
On October 28, Villemure was traded to Chicago. One of the players Francis allowed to be claimed off waivers was Giacomin. That happened on October 31. Giacomin was blindsided, distraught. The Detroit Red Wings had picked him up for the $30,000 waiver fee. “Ten years with the club and they treat you like garbage,” Giacomin told Newsday’s Tim Moriarty and Greg Aiello. “They throw you to the wolves. Why didn’t they let me go gracefully?”
The Rangers were scheduled to fly to Montreal on Halloween for a game against the Canadiens on Saturday, November 1. Giacomin got a call at 4 pm and was told not to get on the team bus to the airport. Instead, he was instructed to meet Francis at their practice facility in Long Beach at 6:30. That was when and where the future Hall of Famer was told he was no longer a Ranger.
His New York teammates were shocked. Villemure was in Chicago when he heard that his former goaltending partner was gone. “It’s hard to believe. He’s worth more than that.” Jean Ratelle said, “I know he wasn’t on the bus, but I thought he was coming tomorrow (Saturday). Maybe I’m next.”
Brad Park, perhaps the second-best defenseman in the game at that time found it difficult to process as well. “Everyone had the same feeling. Very, very, very surprised. It’s a very tough thing to realize that Ed Giacomin was put on waivers and picked up for $30,000.”
Francis told Moriarty and Aiello that his aim was to make the team younger. He planned to go with 22-year-old John Davidson and 27-year-old Dunc Wilson in goal. “We tried to make a deal (for Giacomin), but no player was available.”
Giacomin was 36 by this point, and he wasn’t sure what his future held for him. With the exception of his first year in Manhattan, he had always won more games than he had lost. There were three years in which he led all goalies in victories. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, but I’ll try. I’ll be calling Detroit in the morning, then I’ll decide what to do. I have to consider my family.”
And how did the Rangers fare in Montreal on the Saturday night? They were blanked 4-0 by the Canadiens.
The Red Wings were happy to get Giacomin’s rights and were anxious to welcome him into their team. On the morning of November 2, they had just a single win and three ties in twelve games. He would be a big help to their current goaltending tandem, Jim Rutherford and Peter McDuffe. Wings’ coach Doug Barkley was excited to have Giacomin on his club. “He’s my kind of guy. He’s always in the best of condition and he practices just the way he plays – all out.”
After learning his fate from Francis on Friday night, Giacomin called one of his old friends from his hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. He wanted to pick the brain of Al Arbour. Giacomin lived in Nassau County and, if he couldn’t play with the Rangers, he would have loved to play with the Islanders.
Arbour confirmed to Newsday’s Moriarty that he had spoken with Giacomin. “We chatted for a while on the phone. This thing hit Eddie pretty hard. He was very upset. And now he’s got a tough decision facing him because he’s settled here (on Long Island) and hates to leave.”
On the Saturday, Giacomin was still considering his options and was still expressing his dismay at the whole situation. “It was the coldest reception I ever got. He (Francis) just told me I was going to Detroit and when I asked him for an explanation, he wouldn’t answer. And why couldn’t he have told me earlier in the day so I could have said goodbye to the guys? I asked him about that too and I got no answer. I didn’t even pick up my equipment when I left the club. I’m going to have to borrow some pads and stuff if I decide to join the Red Wings.”
To say that Giacomin had been a fan favourite at Madison Square Garden would be a tremendous understatement. He was beloved in New York. Eventually, Giacomin made the decision to join the Wings. And perhaps the most interesting thing in this whole window of time was that Detroit’s first game with their new goalie wearing red and white was in New York against the Rangers on the Sunday after his Friday release.
The second that Giacomin stepped on to the ice for the pre-game warmup, the Garden fans began chanting “Ed-die, Ed-die”. They didn’t stop. It hit Giacomin right in the heart. He wept. “I’ve never been an emotional man, but I couldn’t hold back the tears tonight. When the people started cheering me at the beginning, the tears came down my face. A couple of times, I thought I would collapse from the emotion.”
The fans chanted through the warmup, and they chanted through the national anthem. They kept it up through the game. It was an incredible scene. It wasn’t until Giacomin waved his stick at the crowd to acknowledge the love that they were showing him that they quieted down. Slightly.
“From Friday night to game time, to the time they started cheering me in warmups, I had a funny dream that after the cheering stopped, I would skate out, shake hands with all the Rangers, thank the fans and just leave the ice and retire.” He added, “If I didn’t have a mask on, I would have broken out in tears three or four times.”
And, oh yes, there was a game to play as well.
How did it go? Bill Hogaboam scored a pair of goals as the Wings built a 4-0 first period lead. New York got a couple back in the second period, but Detroit answered back with a couple of their own. It was 6-2 after forty minutes. The Rangers outshot the visitors 22-7 in the third period and scored two more, but it wasn’t enough. Detroit went into the Garden and came away with their second win of the season by a score of 6-4.
The fans cheered for Eddie all night long. That said, it was not an easy game for anyone involved in it.
“During the game, I felt I might faint,” Giacomin said. “It got hotter and hotter.” The beginning of the night was tough for him. “I wanted to get going or I was afraid I’d collapse. I thought it was sweat coming down, but it was tears.”
The Rangers’ captain, Brad Park told the press, “Eddie Giacomin didn’t beat us with his goaltending tonight. He beat us with his presence on the ice. It took a lot of concentration out of our heads, and you can’t play this game unless you are fully concentrating.” They fired 46 shots on their former teammate and watched him stop 42 of them.
Giacomin had been upset that he couldn’t say goodbye to his former mates when Emile Francis told him he was no longer with the club. The Rangers’ players were never informed of his release and had to find out through the media. This game was their first opportunity to talk to him since they left for Montreal two days earlier.
“Yeah, they were talking to me on the ice,” Giacomin told Frank Brown of the Associated Press, “saying things like ‘good luck’ and ‘give my best to the family’. One guy even said ‘I’m sorry’ after he scored a goal. I’m not going to say who it was. I don’t want to get him in trouble. It’s been ten great years for me on the Rangers, but you have to think positive in this world.”
Giacomin finished the rest of the 1975-76 season with the Wings. He also played two more years in Detroit after that. In 1977-78, the Wings made the playoffs, but at 38, Giacomin played just nine games during the season. Rutherford and Ron Low were the goalies that played the postseason games. That was the end of his illustrious career.
But no one who was at Madison Square Garden will ever forget the night the Red Wings came into New York with a former Ranger in goal, though. The emotion of that evening will live on forever.
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Howie’s new book MORE Crazy Days & Wild Nights, eleven new stories of outlandish and wild events that occurred in sports over the last fifty years, is available on Amazon.
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