Andrew James "Andy" Bathgate - Born August 28, 1932 in Winnipeg, Manitoba - Died February 26, 2016 in Brampton, Ontario was a Canadian ice Hockey right winger and coach.
Bathgate got his start on the outdoor rinks of his hometown like most boys of his era. "When I first started playing, everything was outdoors. They were home-made community rinks. I played one game a year indoors. That would be the championship." At that time, organized minor Hockey in Winnipeg was comprised of Bantam B, Bantam A, Midget, Juvenile and Junior. "Everything up to Junior was outdoors," adds Bathgate.
Bathgate signed a contract prevalent at the time called a C Form, which locked him in as property of the New York Rangers. Although the Rangers had several junior affiliations, Bathgate ended up spending his junior career with the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters, named after the Biltmore Hat Company located in the town.
Bathgate collected 46 points in his rookie campaign, but exploded for 33 goals and 57 assists in his second season with the Biltmores. Then, in 1952-52, Andy scored 27 goals and added 50 assists to help lead the Biltmores to the Memorial Cup championship in 1952.
Bathgate and a couple of his teammates were summoned to play with the parent New York Rangers during 1952-53. "I was starting my last year of junior after we won the Memorial Cup and Dean Prentice, Harry Howell and me were taken off the Guelph team and told to report to Maple Leaf Gardens. We went to Toronto and they said, 'You're staying with the Ranger team.' They had lost six or seven games to start the season, so Bathgate never did play his final junior year. He played his 1st NHL game on October 18, 1952 vs the Maple Leafs. Bathgate went scoreless during his first NHL season, recording just 1 assist in 18 games. He was sent to the Vancouver Canucks of the newly formed Western Hockey League / WHL to finish the 1952-53 season.
Bathgate started the 1953-54 season with the Canucks, was then called up to the NHL, playing with the Rangers on November 15, and scored his 1st NHL goal on November 18 vs Al Rollins of the Chicago Black Hawks in a 3-1 Rangers victory. Bathgate played 20 games with the Rangers, before they sent him to the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League / AHL to finish the season, where he helped them win the 1954 Calder Cup championship. Bathgate had 3 goals, 5 assists in 9 AHL playoff games.
Bathgate then became a full time Ranger, starting the 1954-55 season in New York. He slowly became frustrated by his years with the Rangers. Beginning with the 1955-56 season, he finished in the top ten scorers nine consecutive seasons as a Ranger. Yet, New York only made the playoffs three times during that period. He scored his 1st hat trick on December 16, 1956 vs the Montreal Canadiens.
Yet, surrounded with a lineup that often looked like it was held together with bandages and Hockey tape, Bathgate was able to shine. and established himself as one of the most gifted offensive players in the league.
Bathgate was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1959 and 1962, and was selected for the Second Team in '58 and '63. In 1959, in spite of the Rangers finishing in fifth place and out of the playoffs, Andy Bathgate was named the NHL's Most Valuable Player, and was awarded the Hart Trophy. Bathgate also became the first New York Ranger to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine, January 12, 1959.
Bathgate and Chicago's Bobby Hull tied for the regular season scoring championship with 84 points in 1961-62, but Hull was awarded the Art Ross Trophy because he had scored more goals.
Like Gordie Howe, Bathgate could play the physical game and was known as a fierce fighter when the occasion warranted it, perhaps an attribute from his youth in a tough Winnipeg neighbourhood known for its boxers. Bathgate made the First All-Star Team again in 1962-63 and was voted to the Second Team the next year. Though truly an individualist on the ice and off, he always placed the team above his own accomplishments and was disappointed with the Rangers' consistently poor performances. Also during the 1962-63 season, Bathgate scored goals in 10 straight games, which established a modern-day record that stood until it was broken by none other than Wayne Gretzky.
Then, the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers consummated a trade of blockbuster proportions. Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney were sent from the Rangers to the Maple Leafs in exchange for Dick Duff, Bob Nevin, Rod Seiling, Arnie Brown and Bill Collins on February 22, 1964. Toronto coach Punch Imlach claimed that Bathgate was the final ingredient needed for the Maple Leafs to win a third consecutive championship. Toronto was a good experience for Bathgate, scoring 3 goals, 15 assists in the final 15 games of the regular season. He then scored 5 goals, 4 assists in the playoffs, including the Stanley Cup winning goal on Terry Sawchuk, April 25, as the Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings in 7 games.
Bathgate, who missed a number of games in the 1964-65 season with his continuing knee problems that started in junior Hockey, was traded to the Detroit Red Wings before the start of the 1965-66 season with Billy Harris and Gary Jarrett in another blockbuster that sent Marcel Pronovost, Eddie Joyal, Larry Jeffrey, Lowell MacDonald and Aut Erickson to Toronto.. Bathgate helped the Red Wings during their surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals in 1966, scoring 6 goals, 3 assists in 12 playoff games.
Detroit was home to Bathgate for two seasons, but the thumb injury hampered his productivity during the 1966-67 season, where he also played 6 games for the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets. Then, in 1967, as the league doubled in size, the 35-year old Bathgate was claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Expansion Draft. On Oct. 11, 1967, he scored on Rogie Vachon in the third period of a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, recording the first goal in Penguins franchise history. He then led the fledgling Penguins in scoring with 59 points (20 goals) during their first season.
Bathgate was then loaned to the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL for two seasons, where he would help lead the team to two consecutive Lester Patrick Cup victories, in 1969 and 1970. His best professional year was with them, where he scored 108 points (40 goals) in 1969–70. That performance gave him the George Leader Cup, the top player award in the WHL.
Andy Bathgate's final NHL year was with the Penguins in 1970-71, scoring 15 goals (44 points).
During the 1971-72 season, he was playing coach for HC Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland. He came briefly out of retirement three seasons later to play for the Vancouver Blazers of the WHA, which he had coached the previous season, but retired for good after 11 games.
Andy Bathgate played 1,069 regular season games in the National Hockey League, scoring 349 goals and 624 assists for 973 points, and 21 goals, 14 assists in 54 NHL playoff games.
Bathgate is closely associated with one important Hockey innovation, that first originated on November 1, 1959. Bathgate's backhand shot split open the upper lip of Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens. The puck opened a gash that required stitches. When Plante returned to the ice, he was wearing a mask. That started a trend that would lead to goaltenders adopting head protection. Bathgate said later his shot at Plante was payback for Plante getting his stick up on him earlier in the game and cutting him for stitches. “I thought he looked better with the mask, to tell you the truth,” Bathgate said on the 50th anniversary of the game. “How do you get back at a goalie? They’re all a brick short anyway. He comes out with all these bars over his face and we’re all wondering, ‘What on Earth?’ ”
The Rangers retired his #9 along with Harry Howell's #3 in a special ceremony before the February 22, 2009, match against the Maple Leafs. Bathgate joined Adam Graves, whose #9 had been hoisted to the Madison Square Garden rafters 19 nights earlier. Graves called Bathgate "the greatest Ranger to ever wear the #9".
Andy Bathgate was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.
Andy Bathgate was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1993.
In 1998, Bathgate was ranked number 58 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
Andy Bathgate was ranked No. 8 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
In 2000, Andy Bathgate was named to Manitoba's All Century First All-Star Team.
Andy Bathgate was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
In January, 2017, Bathgate was part of the first group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.