Chuck Rayner was the type of goaltender who couldn’t be contained. An excellent skater, he had a dream to score a goal himself and was known for stickhandling up the ice with the puck. Even when he was in the crease, Rayner was proactive. Johnny Bower credited Rayner with teaching him how to pokecheck.
As the Hart Trophy winner in 1950, he became just the second netminder to win the league’s MVP (Roy Worters was the first) and to this day remains one of only seven stoppers to earn the accolade.
Rayner was a star in junior, helping the Kenora Thistles get to the 1940 Memorial Cup, where they lost to the Oshawa Generals. He came to the NHL with the New York/Brooklyn Americans but was best known for his time with the Rangers. He missed three years early in his pro career for a good cause, joining the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Post-war, he was a rock for nearly a decade on some poor Rangers teams, ceding the starting role only once (in 1947-48) to ‘Sugar’ Jim Henry. In fact, coach Frank Boucher tried platooning the two, even switching them in five-minute increments during some games. The experiment ended when Rayner broke his cheekbone.
But it was Rayner’s play in 1949-50 that really put him in the history books. The Rangers were the only team without a top-15 scorer that year, but thanks to Rayner’s six shutouts, they nabbed the final playoff spot before upsetting Montreal in the first round. New York lost to powerhouse Detroit in the Stanley Cup final, but the series stretched to seven games. Rayner finished the post-season with a solid 2.25 goals-against average. New York didn’t return to the final for another 22 years.
Born: Aug. 11, 1920, Sutherland, Sask.
NHL Career: 1940-53
Teams: NYA, Bro, NYR
Stats: 138-207-78, 3.03 GAA, 25 SO
All-Star: 3 (Second-3)
Trophies: 1 (Hart-1)
DID YOU KNOW?
His nickname was ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie,’ but Rayner’s real name was Claude. The original Bonnie Prince Charlie was Charles Edward Stuart, who led a failed 18th-century Jacobite rebellion against the English throne.