What happened on April 24 in the history of the New York Rangers
There is nothing as sweet as a Stanley Cup Playoffs series sweep and nothing is sweeter than sweeping the New York Islanders. On this date in 1994, the Rangers got out the broomsticks and finished a four game sweep of the Isles for the first and only time in the history of the rivalry. The fact that this sweep came en route to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1940 made it even better.
The Rangers faced the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, the first round of the playoffs that spring. The Rangers thoroughly dismantled the Isles in the four games, winning the first two games by identical 6-0 scores, the third game 5-1 and on April 24, by a 5-2 score. They outscored them in the four games 22-3. As we said, it was sweet.
This wasn’t the first time the Rangers beat the Islanders in the playoffs. In 1979, they upset the Isles en route to a Final loss to the Canadians. That was followed by four straight years of being eliminated by the Islanders from 1981 to 1884.
They finally beat the Islanders in 1990 in five games and followed that with this win. 1994 was the last time the two teams have met in the postseason.
On this date in 1978, Rangers’ forward Don Murdoch pleaded guilty in a local Ontario court to possession of cocaine. He had been arrested at the Toronto airport in August 1977 with 4.8 grams of cocaine in his possession. He was fined $400 when he could have been sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,000.
Murdoch didn’t testify on his behalf, but Rangers’ GM John Ferguson appeared as a character witness. Murdoch’s problems didn’t end with the conviction. In July, NHL commissioner John Ziegler banned him for 90 games, a ban that he would allow to be appealed.
Murdoch had burst onto the NHL scene in 1976, scoring 56 points in 59 games including a five-goal game, tying the NHL rookie record. He suffered a broken ankle that season and other injuries that hampered his playing career. The bigger issue was his inability to cope with the life of a sports celebrity in New York. Reports of his partying and substance abuse were well known among his teammates. He had claimed that the cocaine had been given to him and he had forgotten to dispose of it, though it was found hidden in a sock in his luggage.
Murdoch was reinstated midway through the 1978-79 season and played an important role on the team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final. He was traded to Edmonton the next season and was unable to duplicate his early success and was out of hockey before he turned 30.
29 NHL players were born on April 24, two have played for the Rangers with one player becoming a coach. One future Ranger was also born on this date
Hugo Ollas was born on this date in 2002 in Linköping, Sweden. The goalie was a seventh round pick (#197) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He’s huge at 6’8″ and 223 pounds at age 20 and he just finished his first season at Merrimack College in the Hockey East Conference. In 18 games he posted a 10-6 record with a 2.24 goals against average and .920 save percentage. The freshman’s statistics were among the best for a goalie in the conference.
Phil Watson was born on this date in 1914 in Montreal, Quebec. Watson played his entire 13 year career with the Rangers except for a brief 44 game stint in Montreal. .A right wing/center, Watson played on the 1940 Stanley Cup championship team and also won a Cup when he was loaned to the Canadiens in 1944. After he retired in 1948 he became coach of the Rangers from 1955 to 1960.
jeff jackson was born on this date in 1965 in Dresden, Ontario. He played only nine games in New York after coming from Toronto in a trade for Mark Osborne. He was subsequently traded to Quebec for David Shaw and John Ogrodnick. The left winger scored five goals in those nine games in 1987.
The Rangers are one game over .500 in the playoffs on this date and they won their only regular season game played on April 24.
Playoff games: 7
Overtime wins: 1
Winning percentage: 57%
Regular season games: 1
Regulation wins: 1
Regulation losses: 0
Points percentage: 1.000