Rangers Rumors & News
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We all know about the great athletes in New York sports history – Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Namath, Mark Messier, Walt Frazier – and even the busts – Ed Whitson, Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Stephon Marbury, Scott Gomez. But what about the slightly-to-highly-above-average athlete? The kind-of-great but not all-timer? They may not have been Hall-of-Famers, but they were All-Stars, fan favorites, cogs on a championship team or maybe even just pretty darn good. They’re the little brother that didn’t hog all the attention. But they’re certainly worth talking about and remembering. So when do they get their due? Well, now they will. Here is a series of the not-quite-legendary in New York sports history.

Jeff Beukeboom was a giant. He was a monster. He was a fan favorite. And he was a Stanley Cup winner for the New York Rangers. Known for his bone-crunching checks and knack for clearing the crease, the hulking defenseman was an enforcer, but more than that, he was a great teammate. And he inspired a signature sound heard round Madison Square Garden during the 1990s: “Boooooooooook!”

Drafted in the first round (19th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers, the Ajax, Ontario, native made his NHL debut in the 1985-’86 playoffs, playing in one game, then became a regular during the 1986-’87 season. The Oilers were piling up Stanley Cups in those days as quickly as Bill Cosby was selling Jell-O pudding pops, and Beukeboom won three of them with Edmonton (Stanley Cups, not pudding pops). Early in the 1991-’92 season, Beukeboom was sent to New York as part of the Mark Messier deal. He actually came to the Rangers a month after Messier, as he was a late addition to the transaction. Together with Brian Leetch, they formed the perfect partnership. They were the Starsky and Hutch of the NHL. Leetch had the all-world offensive talent, while Beukeboom was the rock, the stay-at-home defenseman that was the perfect complement to his Hall-of-Fame cohort.

The 6’5”, 230-pound behemoth didn’t put many points on the score sheet, but he did rack up the penalty minutes. He led the Rangers three times in PIM (1992-’93, 1993-’94 and 1995-’96) and is second on the all-time franchise list, with 1,157 (trailing only Ron Greschner’s 1,226), His career high came in the 1995-’96 season, when he totaled 220. Sticking up for his teammates and fighting was a function that he never shied away from. He accepted his limited talents and fit in perfectly as a role player, doing whatever he had to do (or beat up whomever he had to beat up) to help his team win.

Everything came together for the Rangers in 1994, when they had an Edmonton Oiler alumni team to go along with homegrown stars Mike Richter, Alexei Kovalev, Leetch and the rest, winning one of the most memorable Stanley Cups in NHL history. Beukeboom was on the ice for the lowest low and highest high in game six of the great playoff series vs. the Devils. When New Jersey tied the game with 7.7 seconds left, the defenseman was right around the net, but he was also at the point four minutes and 24 seconds into overtime when Stephane Matteau wrapped around the game-winner. And he, of course, helped the Blueshirts defeat Vancouver for their first Stanley Cup victory in 54 years.

Beukeboom played for the Rangers for seven seasons before he had to retire after receiving his umpteenth concussion. In November of 1998, Matt Johnson of the LA Kings sucker punched him, and that was pretty much the end of the line for him. He played in a few more games that season but called it quits in the summer. His last NHL game (April 18, 1999) was also the final game of Wayne Gretzky’s career. Beukeboom suffered from post-concussion syndrome for two full years after he retired before he finally started feeling normal again.

In 13 seasons, Beukeboom played 804 games, scored 30 goals (with a career-high eight in 1993-’94), had 129 assists, went a plus-114 and totaled 1,890 penalty minutes. He played in 99 playoff games (197 PIM), and made the postseason five times with the Blueshirts. He may have hit hard and was tougher than a pile of rocks but he also won the Rangers Crumb Bum Award (service to local youngsters) in 1996 and was a selfless teammate. Jeff Beukeboom was on the 1994 Stanley Cup−winning New York Rangers so he will forever be immortalized, remembered and loved by Blueshirts fans everywhere. And today’s New York Rangers sure could use a player like him.

(Click on the names to read the other bios in the series: Steve Vickers, John Olerud, Al Toon, Brad Van Pelt, Dick Barnett, Mickey Rivers, Butch Goring/Ron Duguay/Ken Daneyko, Rusty Staub, Buck Williams, Matt Snell/Emerson Boozer, Mark Bavaro, Mel Stottlemyre and Charles Oakley.)

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