Rangers to retire Richter's number on Feb. 4

Updated: September 5, 2003, 10:03 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Nearly 10 months after he played his last game, New York Rangers goaltender Mike Richter retired Thursday.

Richter, who will be 37 this month, spent 14 seasons with the Rangers, helping the team win its first Stanley Cup in 54 years in 1994.

Mike Richter was the consummate professional, and also often rose to the challenge, taking his game to a higher level when under pressure. Looking back on his career, two games in particular stand out.

First, is Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. Richter kept the Vancouver Canucks scoreless in the final 15 minutes of the game, and held on to a 3-2 lead that gave the Rangers their first Cup in 54 years.

The other is Game 3 against Team Canada for the 1996 World Cup -- one of the finest goaltending performances I've ever seen. In a one-sided game, Richter time and again made saves that defined greatness.

Richter's 14 years with the Rangers is a sign of commitment and respect between him and the organization. The Rangers also are losing an impact player in the locker room and in the community.

"I feel a great deal of sadness," Richter said as he choked back tears at Thursday's news conference. "I have to give up something I truly love."

Richter missed the last nine games of the 2001-02 season when he was hit in the mask with a shot that left him with a fractured skull. He returned to the Rangers last season and posted his last victory on Nov. 5, 2002, against Edmonton. He was kneed in the head in that game, was diagnosed with a concussion and never returned to the ice.

"Due to my injury last Nov. 5, the doctors have informed me I am no longer to continue my career as a professional athlete," Richter said. "The risks are simply too great."

He leaves the club with more than a dozen records including most regular-season games in net (666) and minutes played (38,185). His career record was 301-258-73 and he was the winningest goalie in team history. He had 41 victories and nine shutouts in the playoffs, also team records.

The Rangers said they will retire Richter's No. 35 before their game against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 4. The franchise's only other retired numbers are Rod Gilbert's No. 7 and Eddie Giacomin's No. 1.

"I've been fortunate to play my whole career in New York," Richter said. "It's a source of pride. I love that aspect of a player staying with any team, but in New York it's special. You always believe in the colors of the team that you were drafted by, and being drafted by the Rangers and having your allegiance there, it's great.

"My goals and the Rangers' goals ... they've always been the same. I couldn't have asked to be in a better place than here in New York."

A three-time All-Star, Richter played for the U.S. team that won the silver medal in the 2002 Olympics at Salt Lake City. He also was a member of the 1998 team that played in Nagano, Japan, and played on the U.S. team that won the World Cup in 1996.

Richter was MVP of the 1994 NHL All-Star game, and holds eight Rangers' regular-season records and five postseason records.

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press