As much as the Rangers had great players throughout the 70s and they retired Giacomin's #1 and Gilbert's #7, the team never won a Stanley Cup. That's why we'll never see the numbers of Park, Ratelle, Tkaczuk, or Hadfield. If they had. You would be sure to see 2 or 3 more numbers up there.
It's a shame too. I never watched those Ranger teams but it seems like it boiled down to 2 reasons for the Rangers not winning it. Bobby Orr and "the Broad Street Bullies."
Brad Park was a dynamite defensemen, but he only played 8 years for the Rangers as compared to Ron Greschner who played 16 years with the Rangers. His stats would have been comparable to Leetch's if it wasn't for a back injury. It was a disgrace that Neil Smith and the Ranger upper management gave Gresch's number 4 to Lowe when he came over from Edmonton. If any Ranger should have a number retired is should be Ron Greschner. Plus look who he was married to back in the 80's none other than Carol Alt.
Gresch played in 1 all star game. He was a nice offensive defenseman.
Too often we mistake longevity for greatness.
I guess we need a definition for what qualifies a player to have his jersey retired. The problem is that there isn't one and there never will be one.
To me it should be reserved for elite players. Gresch was not that. Graves was not that.
But the door is open now that Graves is going up so there is no longer justification for keeping a lot of players out. Might as well retire JD's number even though he was only a marginal NHL goalie. He's a fan fave so why not?
I think that if we're going to honor a bunch of guys who had big hands in the Rangers history why not change it just a little? We want to see Park, Raetelle and Hadfield honored? Do a night that celebrates the core group of that time period. They should've done this in the first place. Get your top 6 of each important team and put em on a banner. 1972: Gilbert, Hadfield, Raetelle, Tkaczuk, Park, Giacomin. 1979: Hedberg, Esposito, Nilsson, Duguay, Greschner, Davidson. 1994: Messier, Graves, Larmer, Leetch, Lowe, Richter (Larmer and Lowe I'm not sure about, but you get the idea)
For decades without great seasons, you could do a banner for the whole decade. 1950s, 1960s, 1980s. Cover the whole damn spread. Retire elite Rangers like the guys already retired. Of course, in something like this, Graves wouldn't get his number up in the rafters. #9 should be retired anyway, just for Bathgate.