The Stanley Cup final series between Los Angeles and New York that begins Wednesday night offers some strong historical ties to the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team.
The Rangers have two prominent former UW players in Ryan McDonagh, their No. 1 defenseman, and Derek Stepan, their No. 1 center. But the list of individual links goes back to the 1970s and includes some milestone moments.
Center Tony Granato, the No. 4 scorer in Badgers history, probably has the most prominent stake in the series. He was drafted in the sixth round by New York in 1982 and still holds its rookie record for goals with 36 in '88-89. He also had three 30-goal seasons for the Kings and helped them to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 where they fell to Montreal.
Current UW assistant coach Gary Shuchuk, a center, played with Granato in LA and scored a goal in the second overtime that helped the Kings oust Vancouver in the division finals on the way to the ’93 Cup title series.
A year later, former UW goaltender Mike Richter starred for the Rangers as they won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. His No. 35 was subsequently retired by the club and now hangs in honor at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Fourteen former UW players have been members of teams that won the Stanley Cup, including Davis Drewiske, who was a reserve defenseman for the Kings when they prevailed in 2012.
Over the years, the Rangers have employed other notable UW players. The list includes the first two Badgers to be first-round NHL draft picks (wingers Mike Blaisdell and Pat Flatley), three prominent goaltenders (Richter, Terry Kleisinger and Wayne Thomas) and a pair of first-team All-America defensemen (Bruce Driver and Barry Richter).
Brian Engblom, a first-team All-America defenseman for UW who won three Stanley Cup rings with Montreal from 1976 to '79, also played for LA.