Guest blogger: George Grimm


(Editor’s note: The author, a resident of Airmont, N.Y., is  former publisher/editor of SportStat the Rangers Report. He also wrote the Blue Seat Point of View column for the Blueshirt Bulletin for many years and currently writes the Retro Rangers column for

Another Kind of Winter Classic

By George Grimm

On Sunday Feb. 9, 1969 the Northeast was hit with a snowstorm that started in the Carolinas and moved up the coast. Weather forecasters confidently predicted that the precipitation would change to rain by the afternoon, but Mother Nature had something different in mind. Instead the storm intensified and dumped more than 17 inches of snow on New York City and 20 inches on Long Island.

It wasn’t quite the storm of the century but it had quite an impact on the Northeast, the political future of John V. Lindsay, the mayor of New York City and a hockey game between the Rangers and the Flyers that was scheduled to be played that night at Madison Square Garden.

These days the NHL would probably postpone the game due to the traveling conditions for both the teams and the fans. But back in 1969, if there was a game scheduled, they did the best they could to play it.

At the time a large contingent of Rangers made their winter homes in Long Beach, a bedroom community about 25 miles east of Manhattan on the south shore of Long Island.  Sensing that a heavy, stable vehicle would be needed,  Arnie Brown commandeered teammate Orland Kurtenbach’s station wagon and started the long trek to the city, picking up fellow Rangers along the way.  Ron Stewart, Reggie Fleming, Dave Balon, Rod Seiling, Walt Tkaczuk, Brad Park, Vic Hadfield and Jim Neilson all piled into the station wagon and ultimately took turns driving and pushing the car through the snow covered roads.  “A little snow never hurt anybody”, Brown told reporters when he finally arrived at the Garden. “We rode over dividers, through snow banks, everything”.

“I never saw anything like it” said Balon a native of Wakaw, Saskatchewan that sees it’s share of snow each winter.

Meanwhile Donnie Marshall, Phil Goyette and Harry Howell needed a police escort to make it from their Glen Oaks homes in Queens to the subway that took them to the Garden.

Back up goaltender Don Simmons came to the Garden earlier in the day before travel conditions became difficult. And city dwellers Rod Gilbert and Bob Nevin took a cab from their Upper East Side apartments.

But as the afternoon progressed, there was no sign of starting goaltender Eddie Giacomin as well as Jean Ratelle and Larry Jeffrey. Sensing that he might not have the requisite two netminders available for the game. General manager, coach and former goalkeeper Emile Francis signed himself to a $1 contract in case a backup for Simmons was needed. Francis was 43 at the time and hadn’t played since he retired in 1960, but this was an emergency and if he was needed, he was ready.

It turned out that at 3 p.m. Ratelle, Giacomin and Jeffrey hopped on a Long Island Rail Road train bound for Penn Station, right beneath the Garden.  But they never made it. The train got stuck in Elmhurst, Queens and they spent the night on the train until the tracks were cleared the next morning.

The Rangers opponent that night, the Philadelphia Flyers had played in Boston the previous night and were experiencing their own travel problems. Their train was stuck at a frozen railroad switch north of the city.

So at the usual 7:05 pm starting time, the visitors locker room was empty. The  Flyers eventually made it to the Garden by 8 p.m., but their equipment didn’t show up for another 30 nervous minutes later at 8:30.

The game finally started at 9:15 p.m. with 5,273 hardy souls in the stands.

Guy Gendron scored for the Flyers 5:30 into the first period, Then Don Blackburn made it 2-0 in the second period and things really looked bleak for the Blueshirts when Andre Lacroix made it 3-0 early in the third period.

But then the Rangers stormed back on goals by Tkaczuk and Goyette making it 3-2 with about five minutes left. Francis pulled Simmons with 40 seconds left in the game and Bob Nevin scored to tie the game.

“What a night this has been!” Francis later told reporters..

“Okay guys”, Brown was heard yelling in the dressing room, “ready for the ride home?”

The Rangers’ night might have been over but the fallout from the storm didn’t end so quickly for the city or Mayor Lindsay. The city and suburbs were paralyzed for three days and the streets of Queens were snow covered for a week causing a disruption in mail service, buses, milk and bread deliveries  and trash collection. Lindsay was heavily criticized for not responding to the situation quickly enough and jeered when he tried to make a good will visit to Queens later in the week.

Later that year he lost the Republican Mayoral primary, but ran as an independent and won re-election.  However he was never really able to shake what became known as the “Lindsay Snowstorm” and his political career, including a failed run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972 was never the same.

About Author


  1. E3 pimp's angel on

    George – lovely story…. Thank you for sharing it….. I enjoyed it immensely.

  2. E3 pimp's angel on

    Even the meat bag, guest bloggers stink, should like this particular guest post….

  3. My gram and pop lived in middle village queens during that storm and still lived there when I was in grad school. They used to speak of it (and the blizzard of 47). When i walked from Myrtle avenue l train station during the Jan 6-7 1996 blizzard to their apartment at the tail end of the storm my pop said to me try living like that for a week (walking through snow banks and falling all over yourself) because of that ” idiot lindsey.”

  4. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo,Nash!!!"...says Greg L. on

    GoodMorning ilb !!!! You up burping babies again ?

  5. ZzZz NYR ZzZz© " Don't stepan the logo,Nash!!!"...says Greg L. on

    This blog entry could get gold…

  6. Per (drop the puck already) on

    Great post!!!

    Was about to ignore this blog this morning because of the ennui that has settled in, but George gets the gold on this one.

  7. Good morning all

    Very good story george! I dont think any professional athlete today would endure such a journey to play a game. I wonder what ratelle, giacomin and Jeffrey did on the train. That must have been brutal.

  8. The year the rangers won the cup was a very cold winter. The entire team took the amtrack to Montreal for a 4-3 OT heart breaker. They were winning that one 3-1 before the Habs stormed back. I wonder what that train ride was like as well.

  9. George — Great tale, and I should know. I was there that night (12 years old). My father drove
    us SOUTHBOUND on Madison Avenue from E. 94th St where we lived because it was far more passable than Lexington or Second Ave. The cars coming the other way — and there weren’t a lot — simply moved aside to let us go. I will never forget it as long as I live.

  10. Guest bloggers stink on

    Nice try Grimm. At least you gave it some thought.

    Meatbag huh? Too funny

  11. Awesome post, great when posters contribute stories from those days!

    Stemmer your story reminds me that the emotional connection we have with the Rangers is as much about the bonds with our dads (sometimes moms) and our childhood as anything else.

  12. Sioux-per-man on

    Good story George.

    Chasing Mr Titlelist today for work today. Have a great day!

  13. Reminded me of the many snows we got winters in Duluth. The snow up there was very powdery and the plows would move in an echelon formation to plow the main business street, make one pass, and it would leave a pile of snow on the side walks higher than the store windows, but with a lille cut walking space at corners to let pedestrians cross. I was n the Air Force then up there, and my car ( an old 53 Ford Fairlane) was so covered when I got off duty that night, that I asked the mechs who handled the big F102 all weather interceptor fighters if he could bring the large hoses that were about 1 and a half diameter and used to thaw the engines of the planes, on my ford to clear the ice and snow. Big mistake.
    The superheat melted the snow to sheer ice all across all windows and the ice was then nearly half an inch thick and unscrapeable. I had to drive the first part of my trip home with my head out the window. until my defrosters and heater at last got to work. I lived about 15 miles from the base…what a night.

    Duluth was murder on cars.

  14. Great post!! I recall listening to the game on the radio-a rare start for Don Simmons. Was 12 years old and never saw so much snow!!

  15. Morning every1.

    Here is an interesting story from Twitter about the PHI Philthies

    Tim Panaccio ?@tpanotchCSN
    Flyers say Meszaros out indefinitely with torn achilles tendon. Hurt in overseas training. All the more reason for alarm on back end now

  16. My Dad and I attended that game. I was 10. We took 4 trains, starting out going south on the Brighton Line toward Coney Island instead of north. We arrived at 8:20, found out from a security guard that the game hadn’t started, and watched the whole thing.

    Our train back stopped at Prospect Park station when it couldn’t go outside. We started to walk up Flatbush Avenue, but a guy in a van drove us to Cortelyou Road for a “fin”, a large amount in 1969 dollars.

    One of the greatest nights of my life.

  17. Happy 26th to Michael Sauer-Pauer.

    @thenyrangers@ Happy Birthday wishes to #NYR defenseman Michael Sauer

  18. @NYDNRangers@ Flyers announced this AM that D Andrej Meszaros underwent surgery for a torn Achilles. Out indefinitely. Philly needed D help b4 this news


    Just so yous guys knows that it’s confirmed.

  19. Hi gang, i am one of those every day reader, once in awhile posters – love the blog!
    Great story George! I was only 3 when that storm hit. My old man was a nypd motorcycle cop out of Motorcycle 2 on flatbush ave in those days. He wasnt a hockey fan then(not until i came along and got him into it in the late 70’s). He told the story of escorting (in squad cars, not the harleys) a couple of players to the Battery Tunnel for a “game”. thought they were crazy!!
    My dad passed over almost 6yrs ago – i think of him all the time, but I hadnt thought of that story in years – thanks very much!!!

  20. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Newbear – I was born in Brooklyn. My heritage is German Irish. I am a libra and I am trying to find the essence from within.

  21. I live in Brooklyn. My heritage is a mish mosh. I am a Pisces. I like collecting records and exploring The cave of the unknown.

  22. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Manny – Pisces and Libra rule the zodiac… What is your rising sign? Did you know that juppiter is in the 7th house? And as such, this is the dawning of the age of aquarius…

  23. The Phlyers cannot remove Pronger’s cap hit, right? Because he’s over 35? And the Meszaros cap hit is $4M so they can clear that with LTIR, right?

    People smarter than me, help!

    So who the heck are they supposed to go after?

  24. Pimp: Juppiter is no longer in the seventh house. It left the house to take a “p” in the woods.

  25. coloacovo(no clue how to spell his name) vet dman could be flyer or redwing. snyrangers blog has it

  26. Good afternoon all! George, that was most excellent!

    Happy 26th to the great #38!

    I’m not from Brooklyn, but I’m here now. Anyone know of a place to get decent chow in Kensington?

  27. I was born in a GULAG, now live in Queens and travel to France. Happened to be Russian/Jew, – the only one in my big family. I am a LEO and all I know (besides hockey), that I’m never too old to learn something stupid. But who wants to know?

  28. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

  29. ^Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,^
    ^Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,^
    ^Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,^
    ^One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne^
    ^In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.^
    ^One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,^
    ^One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them^
    ^In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.^

  30. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Couscous – one if my colleagues is an astrophysicist and, believe me when I say, juppppiter is indeed in it’s 7th house – peace will guide the planets and love will fill the air…

  31. Congrats George on a great story, wish you were still writing at the Blueshirt Bulletin

  32. Orbital Health Warning: Four consecutive p’s in Juppppiter indicates planetary diabetes. My colleague is a ppppsychoanalyst and his mortgage is so big, he has yet to even pay off his first house. I think he should have his head examined.

  33. Yogi Berra to press after a home plate collision and a trip to the hospital to check for concussion: “They x-rayed my head, but luckily, they didn’t find anything.”

  34. Great post, Grimm, thanks! Love the little tidbit about Francis signing himself for $1.

  35. Another a typical Yogism, was when he was given mention of a favorite night club, he said “Naw. nobody goes there any more – too crowded”.

  36. That’s a famous one, fran. One story going around, don’t know if it’s true: Yogi’s wife sent out the venetian blinds for cleaning and one Saturday when she wasn’t home and the cleaned blinds were being returned, Yogi’s young son Dale came into the Den and told Yogi that a man was at the front door with the Venetian blinds. Yogi, thinking it was an Italian charity, said “Go to my wallet on my bureau and give the guy a couple dollars.”

  37. so newbear implies that he’s old old enough to be my dad and yet he acts like my little sister.

    he also thinks that my dad pays for my college tuition… lol yeah right, my dads name is federal loan! i WISH my dad could afford 30 grand a year to pay for my education.

  38. Do I look like a cat to you boy? Am I jumpin’ around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree? Am I drinking milk from a saucer? DO YOU SEE ME EATING MICE?

  39. Some of the greatest quotes ever come from the Yankees. But none can ever top Lou Gehrig. He knew what it meant to be a New York Yankee.

  40. Back to byfuglien hockey…
    Dont Do Doan. Doan is Done. Do An(n).
    Take Arnott (72: 17+17 = 34) or even better – Sykora (82: 21+23 = 44), patch that puzzle, then threw ’em in disposal.

  41. Arnott strikes me as an injury risk but it’s always good to have an extra solid Centre hanging around. I would take Sykora for the RW.

  42. Agreed 4ever. I said Sykora just the other day. He was a nice player for our team a few years ago and is a shootout specialist.

  43. Eminger working out in Phil at flyer practice rink can he be the replacement to mezzaros.

  44. He’s really going to help the Phlyers turn around their record against us. Man. He must have so many locker room secrets!

  45. Can you imagine a team where Eminger is your #5 Defenceman? Who do you find to play #6??

  46. I bet the Phlyers third D-Pair next year is

    Roszival – Seabrook


    Roszival – Gilroy

  47. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Look at that tanning whale

    Boys is bikinis, girls and surfboards….

  48. E3 (pimp's angel) stay thirsty my freinds on

    Barry “where’s my eye” Ashbee – Andre “moose” Dupont..

    Great phyler 3rd pair.

  49. great memories george…i remember having two days off from school(in n.j.,but i hate the devils!)….also remember,that easter sunday of ’69 we got hit with a big snowstorm…

  50. Man. I always come on too late to catch the trolls before the ban-o-matic leaps into action.

  51. Jay in Toronto on

    Thanks for the memories. My Dad was in intensive care at Beth Israel. I walked to the LIE which had very few cars on it and hitched a ride into the City. Visited my Dad (with Louie Armstrong also in the ICU) and then went to Peerless Willoughby (sp?) and brought my first SLR. :)

  52. Kathryn was a finalist in the Gather-Borders-Mitch
    Albom contest:”Times My Mom Stood Up for Me:” My Mom Stood
    Up for Me During the Last Days of My Childhood. The back arm should also form a letter “L”,
    with the elbow facing down. This free gift from nature can be turned
    into functional items and works of art.

  53. In the winter, the dog’s body heat is what helps
    to heat the house. Rights advocates might have a bit of hope that now the medical
    community will finally understand gun owner concerns about privacy and loss of rights to an increasingly
    intrusive Obama administration’s efforts to dig as deeply into their personal affairs as possible, while cloaking itself in secrecy.
    One of the best ways to do this is to pick up key points as
    a person speaks and remember them because you share a similar experience or
    have knowledge about the subject.

  54. While you can still be in vogue and dress to kill, you can attract the men around you with your
    striking personality as easily as you can if you were a “no 10″.
    The whole family can be involved in building this project
    for your pet. Despite this single obvious benefit, bats are
    often thought of in popular culture with reference to Bram Stoker’s fictional vampire Dracula, even though the majority of bats do
    not drink blood.

Leave A Reply