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01-20-2012, 01:51 AM
  #50
The Lone Ranger
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Some interesting observations:

1) Espo gets blasted for being a part of one of the most controversial trades in NYR history.

Don't know why that should be an indictment on his part. Did players trade themselves back then? Emile Francis gets mentioned for being honored by the team. Yet, he was the GM who triggered that trade. But nonetheless, Espo gets the blame for this? Such sterling logic....

All I know is.... in Espo's 4 complete seasons with the Rangers, he led the team in scoring all 4 times. He was the best player on the team during the latter 1970s. Without Espo and J.D., the Rangers do not get to the SCF in '79.

2) Esposito vs Messier

In a number of ways, there are some parallels between Espo and Messier. Both players enjoyed their prime seasons and won multiple cups with other teams before coming to the Big Apple. Both players led the NY franchise to very brief spurts of championship caliber success that dissipated away almost as quickly as it arrived.

The main differences that I see between Espo and Mess is:

A) the former's '79 team came up short in the SCF to the Habs. The latter's '94 squad won it all.

B) Mark played 10 seasons with NY, while Espo played all or parts of 6. Of course, that has to be balanced out by the fact that Mess' 2nd go-around with the team consisted of 4 very forgettable non-playoff seasons and Moose was hanging on as a shell of his former self. Espo could have likewise padded his Ranger resume with a couple more mediocre seasons, if he was so inclined. But he hung it up before wearing out his welcome.

I respect everyone else's opinion, if they think that a Stanley Cup win elevates Messier to retired number immortality, while a runner-up effort relegates Espo to the backburner. But saying things like "Espo sucks" while Messier is God in comparison.... that's more than a little ridiculous.

3) Where's the love for the '79 Rangers?

Gilbert and Giacomin represent the '72 SC finalists. Messier, Graves, Leetch, and Richter are reminders of the '94 champs. But there's no one honored from the '79 team. From that cinderella squad, Espo would be the most logical choice for a banner.

4) Gump, Park, and Ratelle are HOFers too.

No one seriously disputes the idea that Gump Worsley, Brad Park, and Jean Ratelle are HOF caliber. Yet, because they played for multiple teams during their careers, they've never quite racked up the numbers with one team that would have made them no-brainers for jersey number retirement. In each of the above 3 cases, they have all spent the majority of their careers with New York. Even though they have all achieved notable success with other franchises, it's not as if their accomplishments in a Ranger uniform was anything to sneeze at. In fact, take away the stats that they racked up while they were in NY,.... and maybe they don't get inducted into the hall. Doesn't that fact alone merit consideration for having their number retired by the Rangers?

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