Why Are the New York Rangers Called the Rangers?
What’s in a name? For an NHL team, a great deal. That moniker is at the center of everything; uniforms, branding, and fan culture all start with the name.
Enter the New York Rangers.
While the team’s name is pretty cool, it doesn’t exactly make a great deal of sense. There aren’t many forests in the Big Apple. Texas, home of some historical rangers, is across the country. There’s no alliteration or anything like that at play. So what gives?
As it turns out, there’s a historical connection that ties everything together. Let’s travel back in time and check it out.
The New York Rangers got their name from owner Tex Rickard
If you’re a sports fan, you’re probably familiar with the Texas Rangers. While that moniker has historical connections to the Lone Star State, it also played a role in the naming of the NHL’s New York Rangers.
In the early days of the NHL, a team known as the New York Americans. Wearing American flag-themed jerseys, the club took the ice at Madison Square Garden. They weren’t very good — the Amerks struggled despite being made up of players from the successful, albeit folded, Hamilton Tigers — but that didn’t matter. Tickets sold like hotcakes.
As you might expect, George Rickard, boxing promoter and the owner of the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden, who was known as Tex due to his time as a cowboy and a marshal in Texas, wanted a piece of the pie. If a hockey team was making money in his building, it should be one that lined his pocket. (As somewhat of an aside, Rickard was quite the character. After his time in Texas, he headed to Alaska to search for gold; that didn’t work, but he did open a saloon, which helped set him down the path of casino ownership and fight promotion.)
Before long, Rickard had secured the expansion rights to bring a second team to the Big Apple. They arrived in 1926 and were nicknamed the Rangers — as in Tex’s Rangers. The name stuck. Meanwhile, the Americans started to struggle and eventually folded after World War II, while the Broadway Blueshirts remained.
The passage of time hasn’t been the kindest to the Rangers as the club has only won four Stanley Cups in nearly 100 years (and one title since 1940), but that’s certainly better than the alternative. Today, they’re acknowledged as one of the NHL’s Original Six, even though there was a team in New York, not to mention Madison Square Garden, before them.
History, as they say, is written by the winners. Tex Rickard himself may be gone and (largely) forgotten within the passage of time, but his namesake hockey team still lives on.