Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - Andy Bathgate - The Pinnacle
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Andy Bathgate helped put the Rangers into the playoffs in 1961-62.
Andy's pinnacle #1 — on March 14, 1962, Bathgate fired a penalty shot goal against Hank Bassen in the Red Wings' net. The tally helped put the Rangers into the playoffs in 1961-62.
(April 20, 2004) -- Andy Bathgate spent much of his career as one of the few bright lights on a series of dismal New York Rangers' teams. Yet, Bathgate's exceptional skill level thrust him to prominence and eventually, a spot in Hockey's Hall of Fame.

"There were so many moments I remember well," states Bathgate. "Winning the Hart while playing with the fifth-place Rangers in 1959 was great. But I have two moments that stand out for me. Of course, playing on a Stanley Cup winner with Toronto in '64 was a highlight. But another moment I always think back on as a highlight was a penalty shot I scored against Detroit in 1962."

On March 14, 1962, Bathgate was awarded a penalty shot against the Red Wings. Wings' primary netminder, Terry Sawchuk, had been hurt in a pre-game warm-up a few games prior, so back-up Hank Bassen was Detroit's goaltender that night. Bassen had been hot. "For some reason, they (the Red Wings) play better in front of Hank," mentioned Sid Abel, Detroit's coach.

The scoring summary of Bathgate's memorable goal of March 14, 1962 as posted in the Hockey News
The scoring summary of Bathgate's memorable goal as posted in the Hockey News in 1962.
The Rangers had been battling Detroit for the fourth and final spot in the playoffs. Going into the contest, the Rangers had 57 points while Detroit was breathing down New York's neck one point back. If the Rangers finished fourth, it would be their first visit to playoff action in four years and would put the Red Wings on the sideline for just the second time in twenty-four years.

The score was tied two-two going into the third period. Andy Bathgate had already scored once, the goal that opened the scoring in the first. The teams battled until midway through the period. At 9:03, referee Powers pointed to centre ice. Rangers' all-star Andy Bathgate had been awarded a penalty shot. Andy skated in on the red-headed netminder. "It was in the third and I scored a nice goal," remembers Andy. Moments after his teammates had mobbed him, both Bathgate and Red Wing defender Bill Gadsby were sent off with matching minors. But the Rangers held on, and Bathgate's winning goal gave his Blueshirts a 3-2 win and a little breathing room in the race for a playoff berth. It also gave Andy a four-point lead on Chicago's Bobby Hull in the NHL scoring race. That week, Andy Bathgate was named The Hockey News's Player of the Week.

The season ended on March 25. New York was jubilant — they were back in the hunt for the Stanley Cup! "That goal basically put us in the playoffs," smiles Andy.

Bathgate finished the season tied with Bobby Hull in scoring with 84 points, although Hull would collect the Art Ross Trophy by scoring 50 goals to Bathgate's 28, although Andy led all NHLers with 56 assists in 1961-62.

The New York Rangers faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in the semi-final, and although the series went six games, Toronto beat out the Rangers and went on to capture the Stanley Cup.

Andy Bathgate with the Stanley Cup-winning Toronto Maple Leafs of 1963-64
Andy's pinnacle #2 — Bathgate scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Maple Leafs on April 25, 1964. It was the sole Stanley Cup won by the classy winger. Bathgate is in the second row, third from the right.
It was but two years later that Andy Bathgate scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the 1964 Maple Leafs. "The Leafs made the trade for me and Don McKenney in February. Both teams made the trade to get things going. It was not the most popular trade — Dickie Duff and Bob Nevin had been in the Leafs organization their entire career."

Bob Baun, playing on a broken foot that has become legend, scored the overtime winner in Game 6, sending the Stanley Cup final to a seventh game. "We went to Game 7 in Toronto tied three games apiece," remembers Andy. "I got a clean cut breakaway in the first period against Sawchuk. I walked in and remember it so clearly — it was the hardest I ever shot a puck in my career. I put it up over Sawchuk's left shoulder. I knew he couldn't lift that arm." Injuries through his career had restricted Sawchuk's range of motion with his left arm — no secret to NHL snipers.

The Maple Leafs scored three more goals to blank Detroit 4-0. Andy's goal held up as the Stanley Cup-winning goal. The victory gave Toronto their third consecutive Stanley Cup win in three years. It would be the only Stanley Cup celebration Bathgate would enjoy through his exceptional Hall of Fame career.



Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager, Special Projects and Publishing.