Ten years ago feels like just the other day doesn’t it? The Giants were on their way to irrelevance, the Jets had just rattled off 4 straight wins, but most importantly the Rangers were looking like they could finally get back into the post-season after a four-year drought. We all know how that turned out. Boo.
But for a moment there Eric Lindros, Mike York, Theo Fleury and company were a rare ray of sunlight in those dark days following 9/11. Ten years ago the Rangers were 14-7-1 heading into Thanksgiving weekend.
Some of those players who lifted our hopes have well-known pursuits since donning Broadway Blue like Mikael Samuelsson (Detroit,Vancouver, now Miami), Manny Malhotra (Columbus, San Jose, now Vancouver), and Matthew Barnaby (ESPN Analyst). But what about some of those other players like fan faves Mike York, Sandy McCarthy, up and comers like Rico Fata, or whipping boy Igor Ulanov?
Here’s an update on five forgotten Rangers…
York was a fan favorite, a Ryan Callahan of his day, and his trade to Edmonton for Tom Poti (the first to be anointed the next Brian Leetch) made Blueshirt fans’ feelings for Sather go from mistrustful to downright toxic. Supposedly York teared up the day he found out he was traded and that made the pill that much harder to swallow.
Though Poti was nothing to sneeze at, York never did become the player Rangers fans thought he would. He had a few good seasons in Edmonton and later out on the Island, but the last few years he bounced back and forth between the NHL and the AHL.
These days York is lacing ‘em up over in Germany’s DEL, which has the highest amount of North American players outside of North America, thanks to solid six figure contracts, low taxes, and a higher per team limit of foreign-born players. Plus who wants to play in Russia anyway?
Sandy McCarthy was a tough as nails 4th line forward who ended up getting a decent amount of playing time with Eric Lindros once the season started to go south and the F-L-Y line was broken up. He’s also the only person I can think of that ever had a uncanny resemblence to Mick Foley. Though there is a Foley clone lurking around the 400s I hear.
Anyway, after his retirement in 2004 McCarthy owned a marina and coached midgets up in Canada. Currently he is behind the bench of the Alliston Hornets, a Junior C team near his hometown in Ontario.
Purinton never scored more than 6 goals at any level of hockey, but boy this kid could fight. In 2001 he had 18 fights in only 42 games. The beginning of the end came for Purinton when he was suspended for 25 AHL games in 2007 after he delivered a nasty punch to the back of the head of Iowa Stars forward Marius Holtet.
Purinton retired in 2008 and now coaches for the Cowichan Valley Capitals in the British Columbia Hockey League (Junior A). Interesting all of these enforcers are coaching kids huh?
Everyone talks about Holik, Gomer, Redden and a host of other mistakes who Sather watched wilt under the lights of Broadway and somehow was able to unload them. But perhaps one of the first Sather signings to fail miserably upon arriving to NY was defensive defensemen Igor Ulanov.
Ulanov put up 20 assists for the Oilers prior to coming to NY, which was great for a hard-hitting stay-at-home type, but he never meshed with the Rangers. He was routinely the whipping boy for the Garden faithful, which was just for some of his blown coverages. Somehow Sather was able to unload Ulanov and picks for Pavel Bure. Yes folks, Sather’s first rabbit.
Ulanov actually had some success when he returned to Edmonton, but ended up finishing his career in the KHL. His current whereabouts is unknown; however, I have reason to believe he is behind the Igor Ulanov Fan Club. I mean who else could be running that site?
Last but not least, Rico Fata was your classic case of a young prospect who dominated the minors (35 goals in the AHL), but couldn’t put it together at The Show. The kid could skate like the wind, but unfortunately he had hands of stone.
Fata bounced around NHL teams never quite sticking with any and is currently playing in the Swiss National League A, another popular league for North American expats.