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From the Archives: The Post-War Return of Pre-War NHL Aces

World War 2 had ended and pre-war aces returned to their respective NHL teams. One of them was left wing Lynn Patrick whose father, Lester, managed the Rangers, who said Lynn's "legs were done." Turns out, he wasn't far off.

You won't believe this one, but my tale begins with a riddle that, for years, virtually nobody has been able to answer. So, try your luck:

World War 2 had ended and pre-war aces returned to their respective NHL teams. One of them was left wing Lynn Patrick whose father, Lester, managed the Rangers.

Although Lynn had led the Blueshirts in goal scoring during the 1941-42 season, his father believed that -- by 1945 -- his son's "legs were gone." Therefore, Lester declared that Lynn would not be on the New York roster. Period!

But when the 1945-46 campaign began, there was Lynn ready to play; and he did. Since Lester was the boss of New York hockey bosses, my riddle-question is this: how did Lynn manage to bypass The Boss and play for New York?

Since Lynn had been a GI, when he received his honorable discharge, he also received a document called "The GI Bill Of Rights." One of those "Rights" stipulated that all GI's were to be given back their pre-war jobs. Hence, Lynn was able to play 38 games in 1945-46 and even managed to score eight goals over 38 games for Lester.

The ARCHIVES stories from my scrapbook presented here are about that very same Rangers sextet and the club's opening night in Manhattan in the fall of 1945.

Arch Murray wrote the pre-game story for the New York Post. It was headlined: RANGERS, PRE-WAR ACES BACK, PLAY HAWKS IN GARDEN ICE BOW. Pictured is defenseman Muzz Patrick -- Lynn's kid brother -- who also had served in the U.S. Army.

Murray's lead paragraph set the stage for the curtain-raiser:

A far cry from the raggamuffun Rangers who have been floundering in the depths of the NHL for the last two years, a new band of Blueshirts launch New York's first post-war hockey season tonight in The Garden against the currently torrid Black Hawks from Chicago,

In addition to the Patrick Brothers, New York returnees included Neil Colville, Sugar Jim Henry, Bryan Hextall, Alan Kuntz, Bill Juzda, Alex Shibicky, Alan Kuntz and Chuck Rayner.

Coach Frank Boucher knew that some of the pre-war stars might never regain their pre-war form.

"I've decided I want to give every one an entire season to get back into shape," Boucher insisted ."By then I'll know who has the goods to stay with us next season.

"Fellows like Neil Colville are finding it hard to adjust themselves and their muscles to hockey after two and three years of war service. But they'll come around after a spell. Make no mistake about that."

They got their first test against a strong Chicago team but fell short, 5-4, although there were a few positives to take out of the opener. That included a capacity crowd of 15,121 who enjoyed the action.

Joseph C. Nichols, beat reporter for the New York Times, was impressed. "The clash was reminiscent of the good old days which thrilled the crowd," wrote Nichols.

The Times gave the game a good play on its sport pages which included a photo of a Max Bentley goal; one of three he scored during the game. Bentley's linemate, Bill Mosienko, scored the winning goal late in the third period.

"This is a good, fast and scrappy Rangers team," Boucher added.

"It's so much better than our wartime models that you can't talk about it in the same breath with thoe undermanned outfits."

Boucher was right about that but wrong when he predicted that his Blueshirts "won't be far away from the top."

The Rangers finished in last place and by the time the season had ended, Lynn Patrick realized that his dad, Lester, was right. Accepting the fact that he'd lost his scoring touch, Lynn retired after the season.

This time there was no such thing as a Bill Of Hockey Rights to get Lynn Patrick back as a prolific Ranger!



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