NEW YORK – Andy Bathgate was just fine without a flashy nickname. While Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and Bobby “The Golden Jet” Hull became known for their powerful slap shots and colorful monikers, Bathgate could score with the best of them — and settled for just plain Andy.
Hall of Fame winger Bathgate, one of the most prolific goal scorers of his day, has died. He was 83.
Bathgate’s death was confirmed by the Hockey Hall of Fame and by the New York Rangers on Friday.
A dynamic shooter and playmaker, Bathgate was the NHL’s MVP for the 1958-59 season when he scored 40 goals and had 88 points. He was the first member of the Rangers to score 40 times in a season.
“Andy set the bar for what it means to be a Ranger,” Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert said in a statement released by the team. “He was a true innovator of the game and my idol. . . . He was class personified, on and off the ice. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Rangers organization and throughout the hockey world.”
A two-time, first-team All-Star in an era when Gordie Howe was the dominant right winger, Bathgate played in eight All-Star Games. He spent just under 12 seasons with the Rangers before being traded to Toronto in 1964, when he won his only Stanley Cup.
One of Bathgate’s most famous shots was on a backhander that crashed into the face of Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante in 1959. Plante then became the first NHL goalie to wear a mask in a game.