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Oct. 6, 1981 (Rangers vs. Detroit Red Wings)
FINAL GAME WITH RANGERS
May 9, 1986 (Rangers at Montreal Canadiens) (playoffs)
MAJOR NHL AWARDS/ACHIEVEMENTS WITH RANGERS
NHL All-Star Game — 1986
RANGERS TEAM AWARDS
Players` Player Award — 1984-85
INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS WHILE WITH RANGERS
1981 Canada Cup
1985 World Championships in Czechoslovakia
Most game-tying goals — 1984-85 (3, tie)
RANGERS TEAM LEADER
Most points — 1984-85
Most assists — 1982-83, 1984-85
Most playoff goals — 1983 (tie)
RANGERS ORGANIZATION STATISTICS
Minor-league games: 0
Minor-league teams: None
Full name: Reijo Juhani Ruotsalainen
Uniform Numbers: 29
Retired from pro hockey: 1998
The first Finnish player to star for the New York Rangers, defenseman Reijo Ruotsalainen began his relatively brief NHL career with an amazing five-year run in New York.
Just as Sweden`s Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson had done a few years earlier, Finns Ruotsalainen and Mikko Leinonen made a big splash in joining the Rangers prior to the 1981-82 season. Both were talented, but Ruotsalainen was the bigger star, putting up numbers unlike any previous Rangers defensemen except Brad Park and Ron Greschner.
As a rookie in 1981-82, Ruotsalainen was paired on defense with Rangers captain Barry Beck. Playing much bigger than his diminutive 5-foot-8 frame, Ruotsalainen exploded for 18 goals and 38 assists. Still playing with Beck one year later, he increased his point total to 69 points.
Chosen by the Rangers in the sixth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Ruotsalainen proved so talented offensively that head coach Herb Brooks began using him at left wing, as well as defense, in 1983. He responded by tallying 20 goals in 1983-84 and 28 in 1984-85, a season in which he played 32 games at left wing on a line with Mark Pavelich and Anders Hedberg and led the entire team with 73 points.
In 1986, Ruotsalainen left the Rangers to continue his career in Switzerland. He eventually returned to the NHL to help Edmonton win the 1987 Stanley Cup just a few months after the Rangers traded his rights to the Oilers.
Amazingly, Ruotsalainen returned to Europe again in the fall of 1987 but came back three years later to help the Oilers win their fifth championship in 1990. As a result, Ruotsalainen is one of the few players in history who can say they captured the Stanley Cup in their final NHL game.
º Players` Player Award Winners