Hall of Fame center Jean Ratelle will have his No. 19 retired by the New York Rangers in a ceremony before their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 25.
Ratelle had 817 points (336 goals, 481 assists) in 862 games during16 seasons with the Rangers. He centered New York’s “GAG Line” with Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert; they finished third, fourth and fifth in the NHL in scoring during the 1971-72 season. Ratelle’s 109 points (46 goals, 63 assists) in 63 games before he missed the final 15 regular-season games with a broken ankle were the most in a single season in Rangers history until Jaromir Jagr had 123 points (54 goals, 69 assists) in 2005-06.
Ratelle also had six 30-goal seasons, more than any player in Rangers history. He scored the final goal at the old Madison Square Garden in a 3-3 tie with the Red Wings on Feb. 11, 1968. Seven days later, he took the first faceoff for the Rangers at the current Garden against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Jean Ratelle is truly one of the greatest players to have ever played for the New York Rangers,” Rangers president Glen Sather said Monday. “Few players have demonstrated the class, dignity, and gracefulness that Jean possessed throughout his career, both on and off the ice. I had the good fortune to call Jean a teammate with the Rangers, I am proud to still call Jean a friend, and I am honored to announce that he will take his rightful place in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.”
Ratelle finished his NHL career in 1980 with 1,267 points (491 goals, 776 assists) in 1,280 games with the Rangers and Boston Bruins, who acquired him in a trade on Nov. 7, 1975. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 and named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian in 2017. His No. 19 will join goaltenders Ed Giacomin (1) and Mike Richter (35), defensemen Brian Leetch (2) and Harry Howell (3), and forwards Gilbert (7), Adam Graves (9), Andy Bathgate (9) and Mark Messier (11) in the rafters at Madison Square Garden.