Brad Park

Brad Park was a highly efficient defender, combining size and clean but dogged tenacity with an uncanny awareness of the game. A noted hip-checker, Park was brash and unintimidated. But with the puck he became a natural chessmaster on the ice. more-than-likely make a perfect pinpoint pass to clear the puck out of the zone and start the attack. With a short burst of speed he would often jump to join the rush as a fourth attacker, and was a true power play quarterback. Park, not unlike Ray Bourque years later, was a consistently steady defender with often brilliant offensive instincts.

In almost any other time period Brad Park would have been considered the best defenseman of his time. But Park played in the enormous shadows of Bobby Orr in Boston and Denis Potvin on Long Island. The only thing that kept the spotlight on them as opposed to Park was their team success and a combined 6 Stanley Cup championships to Park's zero.

That's right, Brad Park never had the chance to sip champagne from the Stanley Cup, despite participating in the playoffs each of his 17 NHL seasons. Along with the likes of Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, and Mike Gartner, Park may be the best player ever not to have tasted Stanley Cup victory.

Park went from unbridled prodigy to popular sensation in New York, ranking him as perhaps the greatest defenseman in the long history of the Blueshirts.

"Park reminds me of Pierre Pilote," once said Chicago coach Bill Reay. "Both were relatively compact men who could accelerate better than most forwards."

Though it was popular with Manhattan fans, Park was brash off the ice as well. He penned the book Play The Man in 1971 where he was very forthcoming in his thoughts, notably badmouthing Boston fans, calling them animals and players, calling them thugs.

The Bruins fans hated Park and their natural rivals from New York, which made the feud all the more ironic when Park would be part of a blockbuster trade with the Boston Bruins. Perhaps the biggest the trade to that date, Park was the centerpiece of a Ranger/Bruin swap that saw the legendary Phil Esposito leave Beantown. Looking to find a fill-in for the often injured Orr, the Bruins also sent Carol Vadnais to New York and also received veteran Ranger Jean Ratelle.

The trade was uncomfortable for Park, who openly cried and considered not reporting. The two teams were bitter rivals. The only thing that could have been worse is if the Red Sox traded for a Yankee's starting pitcher.

But Park's cerebral play would quickly win over the fans. But the Bruins got a different, more mature Park than the one who so often dominated games against them. Park's play in Boston tamed down somewhat, mostly due to necessity. By the time he was 28 he had undergone five major knee surgeries and four arthroscopic surgeries. But his play remained sterling, in some ways better than ever under the Bruins tight checking system.

"My wheels aren't as good, but my brain is better," Park said at the time. "When I was younger and quicker I was capable of controlling a whole game over the whole rink. Now I've got to be content to control our zone. Basically I'm prepared to do less and do it well rather than try doing what I used to do and do it badly."

Park served another seven and a half seasons with the Bruins. He would finish his career in 1985 after 2 seasons in Detroit.

In a total of 1,113 NHL games, Park netted 213 goals and assisted on another 683 for 896 points, while accumulating 1,429 penalty minutes. He also posted 125 points (35 goals, 90 assists) in 161 playoff contests.

Park was a First Team All-Star in 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978 and second team in 1971 and 1973. He would be shutout from Norris trophy nods as the game's best defenseman, but finished 2nd place a heartbreaking six times. He was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy in 1984 and was also a valuable member of the Team Canada defense corps in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviets.


Anonymous,  7:57 PM  

As much respect I have for Brian Leetch i think it's a real shame that the Rangers didn't retire number 2. Leetch shouldn't even of had a chance of touching that number.That would be like Bourque taking 4 in Boston....i don't think so. At least the Bruins knew how to respect someone that gave their all for the team and city.

Anonymous,  8:02 PM  

The Rangers should be ashamed of themselves not retiring #2 before Leetch got to it....ashamed

Anonymous,  6:24 PM  

I totally agree - Brad Park deserved to have his number retired...

Anonymous,  10:36 AM  

What about Ron Greshner...#4 should be up there..still holds records...and was the captain

Anonymous,  12:45 PM  

Brad Park's #2 and Vic Hadfield's #11 should have been retied first. People must have forgotten that Hadfield was the first Ranger to score 50 goals in 1 year.

zacstar,  11:22 PM  

Brad Park Carried the Rangers on his back and also was the poloceman for the team as well in case anyone forgot. Kurtenback hurt his back, Hadfield had his hand or thumb broken alot and Park was the one to have to protect Ratelle and Gilbert.
Sadly Brad would have won a cup for the Rangers had they not started the dominos to fall by initially trading Hadfield for Nick Beverly in 74. They had a chance to be a dynasty. Its a shame still today that all feel incisively. Park was the Greatest defenseman next to Orr. Park even carried the Team Canada's 72 team in the Summit series as Orr did not play, to victory in the greatest series of hockey (the 87 three(short but great) gm series as well) ever.

Anonymous,  10:12 AM  

Brad will be remember as Bruin not a Ranger!

Anonymous,  4:32 PM  

I had the opportunity to speak to Brad at his son's wedding a few years a go,and it was then that i told him how shocked I was by that trade. Even to this day,he told me,he's still somewhat surprised by what transpired back in '75. He told me he was in shock back then,and how he even cried.I told him,as far as I was concerned,he will ALWAYS be a true blue Ranger.

Ranger Ron,  3:42 AM  

As a 15 yr. old Ranger fan living in Manhattan, 35 blocks from Madison Square Garden, my world was shattered in 1975 when the Rangers traded my favorite Ranger, Brad Park to the arch rival Boston Bruins. Somehow after that the Bruins were not so bad (and I could never fully forgive the Rangers). I also have a hard time seeing retired Ranger #2 hanging from the ceiling with somebody else's name.

MrZero 6:55 AM  

As much as a Ranger fan as I was, as soon as the Trade happened I found myself hoping for Park and Ratelle. Of course over the next few years the Bruins did so much better then the Rangers my heart was with Boston. It took til June 2011 for me as a fan to win my first Stanley Cup as a Bruins fan.
Looking back Brad Park was my favorite player of all time. Such a good stickhandler and play maker it is ashame he never one the Norris or a Stanley Cup.
Parky, as his pals call him, has the record of finishing runnerup to a major NHL Award 6 times and never wining. In the playoffs of 1978 he tied Bobby Orr's record of 9 goals by a D-man. Boston lost out to Montreal and Larry Robinson won the Con Smythe Trophy. Another award that Parky was undoubtly the runnerup.
Brad Park one of the best defenseman of all time.

Anonymous,  4:25 AM  

I vividly remember the 10 games that you and Bobby Orr were together. If there was a power play, they may have well just awarded the Bruins with a goal! They don't make 'em like you anymore. Thanks for the memories.

Anonymous,  6:25 PM  

Brad Park will always be the best Ranger defencemn of all time.

Unknown 8:50 AM  

As much as I appreciate Messier, Leetch, et al, for getting the cup for the Rangers I cannot help but think that every time I see the Rangers play I think back on #2 as Brad Park, #18 as Walt Tkaczuk, etc. They were MY Rangers!

Thanks guys for so many great games!

Unknown 3:45 AM  

OK I'm a lielong Bruin's fanatic.

I used to think before "the trade"
that Orr and Esposito were god.
But with Orr's knee woes, Harry Sinden had to do soemthing bold.
In his finest hour Sinden dealt away
the NHL's most overrated player with
Carol Vadnais for Brad and Jean RATTELLE
AS it turned out, both Ratelle and PARK WERE BETTER THAN ESPO AND ORR.
FROM 1975-79 four Adams div titles, two berths in the finals, and two in the semifinals.
They were two players from heaven.
They spoke of LAPOINTE, SAVARD and Robinson, and Potvin
Brad was better than all of them
In game 7 of the ADAMS DIV title game April 25, 1983, Brad scored the tying goal and the WINNER in OT. I don't recall that egomaniac POTVIN doing tha tnor the Habs defenders.
Brad should have finished his career in Boston,but OWNER Jacobs
wouold not part with one his MILLIONS to keep Brad.
Park or Bourque? I vote for BRAD

Paul,  12:19 PM  

I always like Brad Park and thought he was a tremendous player, but I'll never forget his gaffe in Game 7 of the '71 semi-finals against the Hawks at Chicago Stadium. In the third period of a 2-2 game,Park had the puck a couple of strides behind the red line and inexplicably shot the puck into the Chicago zone for icing. All he had to do was skate a few more feet and there would have been no icing. Well, Bobby Hull scored on the ensuing face off for the winning goal and the Hawks went on to the Finals where they were defeated by the Habs in seven games. I always thought if the Rangers had won that game, they would have defeated Montreal for the Cup.

Anonymous,  11:58 AM  

Anyone Who thinks Brian Leetch is Better Should be Hung From the Highest Yardarm! Park was way better, but he played in the Shadow of Bobby Orr the Greatest Defencmen of All time but nBrad is Number Two in my Books. Best Rangers Defencemen Of All time. He should have won the Cup, but the Damn Canadiens Got in the Way.

Anonymous,  10:55 PM  

Mark Messier called Brian Leetch the single greatest Ranger of all time - and personally, I agree. Park is a close enough second.

Anonymous,  8:57 PM  

Park is no doubt the greatest NHL player never to have won the Cup - though he made the finals three times. Intelligent, all-round blueliner, a Ray Bourque prototype, able to hold his own against Bobby Orr from time to time. Orr too might have never won the Cup - had the Habs not stumbled, or the tide somehow favoured the Rangers.

But Brian Leetch was a better player. After all, by the numbers, Leetch averaged 0.85 ppg, versus Park's 0.81 ppg - and Leetch played in a lower-scoring era. The playoffs saw Park go 0.77 ppg, versus Leetch's 1.01 ppg. Let's also not forget that Leetch was the Conn Smythe winner in the 1994 Stanley Cup - a "curse-breaking" feat that alone would seal his place as greatest Ranger of all time. Even Messier deferred that honour to him.

But #2 should have been recognized as both Park and Leetch.

Anonymous 5:10 AM  

Sinden fleeced NY in that trade. He replaced Orr/ Esposito with
Ratelle/Park and Boston made 2 Finals in '77 and '78 because of it.

Anonymous,  5:14 AM  

The New York Rangers organization should be ashamed of themselves for not already retiring Brad Park's number. They should have done it either before or, at the very least, on the same day as the Brian Leetch ceremony.

Now that the NY Rangers have finally decided to retire Jean Ratelle's number on Feb. 25, 2018, they should follow that immediately by retiring Park's #2 jersey (Leetch should be there to host it) and then Vic Hadfield's #11 (Messier should be there to host it). Truthfully, the younger players should have insisted that their predecessors who wore the same number and jersey be honored first. In any event, they have a chance to do the right thing now before it's too late.

Retiring Ratelle's jersey is a great start. Now finish it right and retire Park's and Hadfield's. Glen Sather: You know it's the right thing to do - you played with them and you know how good they were - please do this for them and the long-time Ranger fans!

jim2.7182 2:31 PM  

I always thought that Brad was an overall better player than Orr. Orr could be beat in his zone. Of course, he would get the puck and skate it out, but I always thought Brad was better defensively, and just a better all around defenseman. Potvin? Overated. Brad should have definitely won the Norris in 1979. He earned it, not Potvin. Harry Sinden said that Park could stickhandle in a phone booth. That is a good description of his skills, superb stickhandler, devastating slapshot, great playmaker and quarterback of the power play. It is no accident that Bourque was paired with Park in Boston. This was done so that Ray could learn from Brad. And if you look at Ray's style of play, it was very much like the way Brad played in NY, carrying the puck out of the zone, setting up the offense, the power play, the hard, bruising checking, all Brad's trademarks. I was fortunate to meet Brad at one of the alumni events. Wonderful to talk with him. at the end, I thanked him for giving us many years of exciting hockey and great memories. Brad is my favorite all time NHLer.

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