Back in 1952, the New York Rangers called up a pair of 19-year-olds from a junior team in Guelph.
Almost six decades later Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate were honoured in a classy pre-game ceremony last night for being two of the all-time greats in the illustrious history of the Broadway Blueshirts.
Howell, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman back in 1967, played in 1,160 games as a Ranger -- a team record that still stands. Michal Rozsival, who had been wearing Howell's familiar No. 3, switched to No. 33 in order to allow Howell's number to be hoisted to the rafters.
Bathgate, a goal-scoring forward who won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1959, spent 12 seasons as a Ranger, registering 272 goals. Bathgate's No. 9 joined another No. 9 -- that of winger Adam Graves -- dangling from the ceiling of the World's Most Famous Arena.
Both Bathgate and Howell spent stints as captain for the Rangers.
"It is a great honour to be here, especially with Harry," Bathgate said. "We've been hockey-playing buddies since we were 16 years old."
The ceremony was a star-studded affair featuring NHL greats of yesteryear.
Among the Rangers alumni in attendance on the ice: Graves, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Rod Gilbert, Ed Giacomin and (Leapin) Lou Fontinato.
Van Ryn update
Fifteen days after injuring his knee in Montreal, Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn participated in his first bag skate yesterday under the watchful eye of workaholic assistant coach Keith Acton.
Van Ryn is wearing a small brace on the knee, which he says "will keep the knee cap in place."
"It went pretty good," he said. "But we've got to get the swelling out of there.
"Right now it's a day-to-day thing."
Van Ryn has suffered his share of hits from behind this season, including the one that has him sidelined at the moment.