When a Coach Turned Goaltender For the New York Rangers

Jim Bay
New York Rangers
Feb 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, the New York Rangers posed a question via twitter to head coach David Quinn. They asked him if he could choose a player to trade places with and coach the Rangers for a day, who would he pick? Quinn chose defenseman Tony D’Angelo. Now would that mean Coach Quinn would suit up and take D’Angleo’s place on the blueline? Quinn did play in the AHL and IHL as a defenseman. But as strange as that sounds, there was an instance in Ranger’s history when a coach had to step on the ice, during the Stanley Cup finals nonetheless.

When the Coach turned Goaltender for the New York Rangers

In 1928, the New York Rangers, under the guidance of the legendary coach, player, and GM Lester Patrick, qualified for the Stanley Cup finals. Their opponent was the Montreal Maroons. The game was simpler then, especially the rosters. The 1928 New York Rangers roster revealed that they carried eight forwards, five defensemen, and one goalie. Carrying one goalie was the norm back then, and there were some instances when a goalie was literally called out of the stands to replace an injured netminder. The Rangers would have done that in game 2 of the series when starting goaltender Lorne Chabot suffered an eye injury after being hit by the puck in the middle of the second period. This was way before the time goalies wore masks. Alec Connell, the Ottawa Senators’ star goaltender was in the stands, as well as minor-leaguer Hugh McCormick. However, Montreal head coach Eddie Gerard refused to allow either to man the nets for the Rangers, denying them the opportunity to use the EBUG, as we now call the procedure.

So at the age of 44 years, 99 days, head coach Lester Patrick inserted himself at goal. Patrick was an accomplished defenseman, playing many years for the Victoria Aristocrats of the PCHL. Since teams did not employ assistants back then, Odie Cleghorn, the then-coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates (yes, they did have a hockey team by that name), stood in for Patrick as a coach for the remainder of the game. Interestingly enough, the Rangers had defeated the Pirates in the Quarterfinals. Patrick did his job, stopping 18 of 19 shots, allowing the Rangers to secure the 2-1 overtime victory. After that, the NHL allowed the Rangers to use fellow NHL goalie Joe Miller of the New York Americans for the next three games, thus allowing the Rangers to win their first-ever Stanley Cup.