Claude "Chuck" Rayner played his early hockey in his hometown of Sutherland, Saskatchewan, before moving to Saskatoon in his mid-teens to play for the Saskatoon Wesleys of the Northern Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. In 1937, the Wesleys made it to the best-of-three western final but lost the Abbott Cup to the Winnipeg Monarchs. He moved on to the Kenora Thistles for the next three seasons and in 1940 the Thistles, led by Rayner and defenceman Bill Juzda, reached the Memorial Cup finals against the Oshawa Generals. The Thistles had defeated the Port Arthur juniors and the Edmonton Athletic Club to win the west, but could not wrestle the Memorial Cup title away from the defending champion Generals.
Rayner's professional career began with the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League in 1940-41 where he earned an AHL Second Team All-Star selection. The New York Americans were interested enough to call him up for a 12-game tryout before the end of the season. The following year, he played just one game with Springfield before he was called up to the NHL and appeared in 36 games for the newly-christened Brooklyn Americans. Rayner interrupted his hockey career to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II and did not return to the NHL until the 1945-46 season, this time as a member of the New York Rangers.
He was an NHL Second Team All-Star and appeared in the All Star game in 1949, 1950, and 1951. He is one of only five goalies to be awarded the Hart Trophy as most valuable player, winning the award in 1950. Bu more than awards and accolades, he was also known as one of the first wandering goalies. On more than one occasion he made a save and skated up ice with the puck before hustling back into goal. Twice in particular he came right in on the opposition goalie in an NHL game and almost scored!
In 1953, Rayner was signed as a free agent by the Saskatoon Quakers of the WHL and after a handful of games spread over two seasons with the Nelson Maple Leafs he called it a career as an active player. He went on to coach senior hockey in Nelson, B.C., minor pro in Edmonton, and intermediate and junior hockey in Kenora, Ontario.
Chuck Rayner was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.