Members of the Kitchener Rangers have been named to All-Star teams 61 times.The Kitchener Rangers are a major junior ice hockey team based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. They are members of the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League. The Rangers have won the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions in 1981, 1982, 2003 and 2008. They have appeared in six Mastercard Memorial Cups (1981, 1982, 1984, 1990, 2003 and 2008), advancing to the final game of the tournament each of those six years. They are two-time Memorial Cup champions (1982, 2003).
The Rangers are one of six teams in the Canadian Hockey League (Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Peterborough Petes) that are publicly owned. Since the club's inception, a 39-person Board of Directors, including a nine-person Executive Committee, is elected by the team's season ticket subscribers who act as trustees of the team. This Board of Directors is also comprised entirely and only of Kitchener Rangers season ticket subscribers.
They are one of the most successful Canadian Hockey League teams in terms of alumni with over 180 players and coaches going on to serve in the NHL including Gabriel Landeskog, Jeff Skinner, Radek Faksa, John Gibson, Nazem Kadri, Mike Richards, David Clarkson, Steve Mason, Derek Roy and Peter DeBoer. Five of their alumni have gone on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Scott Stevens, Bill Barber, Paul Coffey, Larry Robinson and Al MacInnis.
|League||Ontario Hockey League|
Kitchener Memorial |
Blue, red, white |
|General manager||Mike McKenzie|
|Head coach||Jay McKee|
|Affiliate(s)||Kitchener Dutchmen Georgetown Raiders|
|1947–1960||Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters|
The Kitchener Rangers franchise was inaugurated ahead of the 1947–48 Ontario Hockey Association season as the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters. Based in nearby Guelph, Ontario, the Biltmore Mad Hatters were a farm team for the National Hockey League's New York Rangers. The team enjoyed considerable success in the 1950's, winning three league championships and a Memorial Cup. However, by 1960, the team was struggling financially and was sold to new ownership. The new owners re-branded the team as the Guelph Royals to match Guelph's nickname, the "Royal City". Despite these efforts to reignite the fading brand, the team's financial struggles persisted. At the end of the 1962–63 season, Kitchener entrepreneur Eugene George was approached by the New York Rangers about moving the team to Kitchener in hopes of building a more stable junior environment.
In 1963, George and a group of Kitchener businessmen relocated the Guelph Royals to Kitchener and renamed them the Kitchener Rangers Junior “A” Hockey Club. The New York Rangers sponsorship of the team ended in 1967 with the expansion of the NHL’s “Original Six’” Era, so George agreed to purchase the team from the New York Rangers for a sum of one dollar, but declined the opportunity for private ownership. He instead turned the team over to the community through the creation of a not-for-profit organization. The Kitchener Rangers Charter declared “no person shall be a member of the Corporation unless he is a season ticket subscriber for the current season of the home hockey games of the club, and all persons who are season ticket subscribers are automatically entitled to membership.”
For their debut season in 1963–64 the team moved into the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, which had previously been home to the Kitchener Greenshirts and the Kitchener Canucks. On Tuesday, October 1, 1963, the Rangers' first coach, Steve Brklacich, welcomed a 54-player roster of training camp hopefuls just two weeks prior to the home opener. The first exhibition game took place on Sunday, October 6, 1963 against the Peterborough Petes. The team's first regular season game featured the Rangers and the visiting St. Catharines Black Hawks on Tuesday, October 15, 1963 which dressed the likes of league All-Stars Dennis Hull and Doug Jarrett. The first goal in team history was scored by John Beechey, assisted by Gary Sabourin and Tommy Miller, at 11:36 of the first period. The team's first captain, Alexander 'Sandy' Fitzpatrick, would score the first game winning goal in team history, breaking open a 3-3 tie in the third period to propel the Blueshirts to a 4-3 win. The Rangers were successful promoting the team in the community, drawing high attendance despite a poor first season in the standings which finished with a record of 9-41-6 (W-L-T).
The Rangers struggled during their first three seasons in the OHA, finishing under .500 in the following two campaigns (6th in 1964-65, 7th in 1965-66). Despite the seventh-place finish in 1965-66, the team finished the year strong and won the first two rounds of playoffs to make it to the OHA Finals, eventually falling 4-1 in a best-of-seven series to the Oshawa Generals and a young Bobby Orr. Kitchener finished in first place the next season (1966-67, 38-10-6), earning their first Hamilton Spectator Trophy in franchise history as regular season champions, but fell to the Toronto Marlboros in the semi-finals. In 1967-68, the Rangers were first again in the OHA and went on to win their second consecutive Hamilton Spectator Trophy. They played in the finals again, but this time losing a close series 4 games to 3 with a tie, to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Niagara Falls Flyers. In 1968-69, Jim Malleck succeeded Eugene George as the team's president. In November of 1968, Kitchener native Dave Weber was appointed coach after Wally Kullman was relieved of his duties. But the season was one to forget, as the Rangers managed to post just nine wins (9-40-5), finishing in 10th place after seeing 13 players from the previous season graduate to the professional ranks. In 1969, Walter (Punch) Scherer, a former scout for the Boston Bruins, became the team's general manager. The decade finished on a high note, however, as rookie sensation Bill Barber dressed in his first of three junior seasons in Kitchener and tallied 37 goals and 86 points in just 54 regular season games.
1969 also marked the year that Les Bradley joined the fold. Bradley was a mainstay on the bench as the team's trainer from 1969-1986, then after retiring as a trainer became an ambassador in the press room for more than 15 years.
Gerry Forler became the Rangers' coach for the 1970-71 season but resigned in December, 1970 and was replaced by Ron Murphy for the remainder of the season. Kitchener struggled through most of the decade, posting only two winning seasons (a 31-24-8 record in 1971-72, and 43-18-9 in 1973-74). Barber posted his first of two straight 100+ point seasons in 1970-71, scoring 46 goals and 105 points in 61 regular season games. He was one of two players to hit the 100-point milestone (Tom Cassidy, 104 points) that year, but the Rangers were unable to get out of the first round of the playoffs. In 1973–74, the Rangers finished first in the OHA for their third Hamilton Spectator Trophy in eight years in large part due to the stellar goalkeeping of Don Edwards who boasted the league's lowest goals against average. The team also featured stars Paul Evans, Dwight Foster and Doug Risebrough, but lost to the Peterborough Petes in the second round of the playoffs.
Things took a nosedive for the team in the 1974-75 season as the club would finish dead last in the league and 20 points out of a playoff spot with a record of 17-47-6. Despite their last place finish, the Rangers would host the Memorial Cup that season as no host team was in place. A slew of changes happened upon the team to start the following season in 1975-76, including changes at president, general manager and coach. The team would see a 17-point improvement, rising to a fourth place finish in the standings. In 1976-77, Foster would set the Rangers franchise record for points in a single season (143), a mark that still stands today. His total 382 points in 262 regular season games over 1973-77 also remains a club record.
As the decade wound down so, too, did the Rangers record during the 1979-80 season (17-51-0). But a bright light emerged in the form of a young acquired defenceman from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds by the name of Paul Coffey. Coffey would play just one season on East Ave, collecting 71 points in 52 regular season games before being drafted sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft.
The Rangers were looking to rebound from a 17-51-0 season in 1979-80, but the first half of the 1980-81 campaign didn't go their way and the team was sitting in last place at Christmas. But a strong second half - culminating with eight wins in nine games to finish the season - propelled the Rangers to a first place finish and an Emms Division title. They would see a 35-point improvement from the previous season, finishing with a mark of 34-33-1. Coached by Orval Tessier, the Rangers were led offensively by 49 goals and 116 points from right winger Brian Bellows, along with 54 goals and 108 points from left winger Jeff Larmer. Centreman Grant Martin was just two points shy of joining them in the century club, notching 41 goals and 98 points. Other standouts on the memorable squad included Al MacInnis, Mike Eagles, Larry Carroll and goalie Wendell Young.
Kitchener's playoff conquest would begin against the Niagara Falls Flyers, dismantling them with a 4-2 series win, including one tie. The Rangers scored five or more goals in every game of the series, with the exception of the 3-3 tie in Game 4. Next up was a meeting with the Windsor Spitfires in Round 3, which the Rangers won convincingly 4-0 with one tie. Again the Blueshirts offense proved formidable, scoring no fewer than four goals in each contest and twice scoring seven. This set the stage for an OHL Final vs. the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Hounds were favoured to win the league title, having averaged the highest goals per game average in the league and finishing 27 points ahead of Kitchener in the regular season standings. The Rangers, however, shocked the masses and not only held the Greyhounds to 16 goals in the series six games, but were undefeated in the league final. They skated to a 3-0 series win with three ties to earn their first J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions in franchise history.
The 1981 Memorial Cup was played at the Windsor Arena in Windsor, Ontario. Kitchener represented the Ontario Hockey League while centre Barry Pederson (65 goals, 147 points in 55 regular season games), right winger Rich Chernomaz (49 goals, 113 points in 72 games) and goaltender Grant Fuhr were key pieces of the Western Hockey League's Victoria Cougars. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League squad - and defending Memorial Cup Champions - were the Cornwall Royals which featured the likes of centre Dale Hawerchuk (81 goals, 183 points in 72 games), left winger Marc Crawford 42 goals, 99 points in 63 games) and centre Doug Gilmour (35 points in 51 games).
Kitchener lost its first two games; 6-3 to Cornwall and 7-4 to Victoria. The Rangers then posted consecutive victories; 6-4 over the Royals in which Bellows scored a hat trick, and 4-2 vs. the Cougars. The Rangers went on to face Cornwall in the tournament final but dropped a 5-2 decision to the Royals, who would win their second consecutive Memorial Cup.
Joe Crozier took over the coaching duties after the 1980-81 season after coach/general manager Orval Tessier left the team to become head coach of the American Hockey League's New Brunswick Hawks, who he would lead to a Calder Cup championship. Kitchener picked up where it left off from the previous season, finding success while being led by top players Larry Carroll, Brian Bellows and Jeff Larmer, as well as added future NHL players Scott Stevens and Mike Hough. The Rangers won the Emms Division for the second year in a row with a much improved record (44-21-3).
Kitchener earned a first round bye in the playoffs, then skated to a 4-0 series win over the Windsor Spitfires in Round 2. They once again clashed with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, this time in Round 3, and again earned a series win this time in five games (4-1). The Rangers faced off against the Ottawa 67's, coached by Brian Kilrea, in the league final and claimed their second straight J. Ross Robertson Cup with a 4-0 series victory, including one tie.
The 1982 Memorial Cup was played at Robert Guertin Arena in Hull, Quebec. Kitchener represented the Ontario Hockey League, while left winger Gerard Gallant (34 goals, 92 points in 58 regular season games) and centre John Chabot (34 goals, 143 points in 62 games) were members of the QMJHL's Sherbrooke Castors. Centre Ken Yaremchuk (58 goals, 157 points in 72 games) and right winger Brian Shaw (56 goals, 132 points in 69 games) were members of the Western Hockey League champion Portland Winter Hawks.
Kitchener received a sobering 10-4 loss in their opener at the hands of Sherbrooke before rebounding with a solid 9-2 win over Portland in game two. Brian Bellows scored 11 seconds into the game against Portland, setting a Memorial Cup record. In their third game, the Rangers shut out the Castors 4–0, atoning for the previous lopsided loss in game one. The game was very physical, and included a bench-clearing brawl in the second period. Kitchener seemed to be a bit worn out the next night, losing 4–2 to Portland.
The Rangers and the Castors made it to the finals on a better goals for and against total, after all three teams won and lost two games each in the round-robin. The final game drew 4,091 spectators who saw Bellows score a hat trick and add two assists, propelling the Rangers to a 7-4 victory and their first Memorial Cup championship.
In 1982-83, the Rangers finished with a 45-23-2 record and a second place finish in the Emms Division. After a first round bye they faced the North Bay Centennials in Round 2 and won the series, 4-1.They would meet the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the third consecutive year in the playoffs but this time it was the Hounds who would earn the series win, 4-2 with one tie, eliminating the Blueshirts from post-season play.
Even before the season began the Rangers knew they would be returning to the Memorial Cup for the third time in four seasons, as they were awarded the right to host the event in 1984. Tom Barrett took over coaching duties prior to the campaign, which saw Kitchener post the best record in the OHL (52-16-2) with 106 points. The Rangers were led offensively by right winger Wayne Presley (63 goals, 139 points in 70 regular season games) and centre John Tucker (40 goals, 100 points in 39 games). Tucker would go on to be named the OHL's Most Outstanding Player, while Presley was the top scoring right winger. Shawn Burr (41 goals, 85 points in 68 games) was the league's Rookie of the Year.
At the end of the regular season, Kitchener earned its third straight first round bye before sweeping the London Knights, 4-0, in the second round. The Rangers avenged the previous season's loss to Sault Ste. Marie by winning that series, 4-3. Kitchener then faced the Ottawa 67's in a rematch of the 1982 OHL Finals, but this time it was the 67's who would emerge victorious, winning the series 3-0 with two ties.
Kitchener represented the host team in the tournament, while the 67's - including right winger Don McLaren (53 goals, 113 points in 70 games), left winger Gary Roberts (27 goals, 57 points in 48 games) and goaltender Darren Pang - represented the Ontario Hockey League as champions. The Western Hockey League was represented by centre Dean Evason (49 goals, 137 points in 57 games), defenceman Doug Bodger (21 goals, 98 points in 70 games) and the Kamloops Junior Oilers, while the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Laval Voisins featured a 17-year-old Mario Lemieux who tallied 133 goals and 282 points in 70 regular season games that year.
Kitchener defeated Laval 8-2 in game one, holding Lemieux scoreless. In game two, Kitchener had an 8-0 lead over Kamloops but narrowly held on to win the game 9-7. Ottawa had also won its first two games. The Rangers faced the 67's in the final game of round-robin play, posting a 7-2 victory to earn a berth in the finals. Ottawa won their semi-final, 7-2, for the right to play Kitchener for the championship where they would also hand the Rangers a 7-2 defeat to win the Memorial Cup.
Following the 1984 Memorial Cup, the Rangers would finish sixth (1984-85), third (1985-86), fourth (1986-87) and sixth (1987-88) in their division before reclaiming top spot in the Emms with a 41-19-6 record in 1988-89. Goaltender Gus Morschauser was named the OHL Goaltender of the Year, but the Rangers were upset in the first round of the playoffs by the North Bay Centennials.
In 1989–90, the Rangers finished second overall in the Emms Division (38-21-7) but used their experience to prevail through the playoffs. Kitchener earned a 4-1 series win over the North Bay Centennials before earning a second round bye. They defeated the Niagara Falls Thunder in the third round, 4-1, setting up a final vs. an Oshawa Generals team which featured Eric Lindros (17 goals, 36 points in 25 games). The Rangers took a 3-1 series lead before the Generals won three straight games en route to the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions.
The 1990 Memorial Cup was played at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario. The Dukes of Hamilton were slated to host the tournament, but due to an abysmal start to their season which eventually saw them finish last place in the league (11-49-6), they were removed from participation and the Rangers, as league finalists, took their place.
In an odd coincidence, the other two opponents Kitchener would face in the Memorial Cup were the same opponents they faced the last time they played in the tournament; the QMJHL's Laval Titan (formerly Voisins) and the WHL's Kamloops Blazers (formerly Junior Oilers).
Kitchener won their opener vs. Kamloops, 8-7 in overtime. They followed that up with a 5-3 win over Laval. Similar to 1984, both Ontario-based team were undefeated after two games and faced each other in the last game of the round-robin. The game was played in front of 11,134 fans, lasting 4 hours 15 minutes into double overtime, with Oshawa winning 5-4. Kitchener then played Laval in the semi-finals, claiming a 5-4 victory.
The Rangers played the Generals in the tournament final with 17,383 fans in attendance. Much like the first game between the two teams, the championship went into double overtime with the Generals emerging as victors, 4-3.
Following the highs of a Memorial Cup run in 1990, the remainder of the decade was lackluster for Kitchener. The team managed three winning seasons (32-30-4 in 1992-93, and 35-28-3 in 1995-96) with their best season coming in 1996-97 with a Central Division title and a record of 34-22-10.
The Rangers earned a first round bye during the playoffs that year, and claimed a 7-3 win over the Sarnia Sting in Game 7 of Round 2. They fell behind, 3-1, in their third round series vs. the Oshawa Generals before winning Game 5, 5-4, to keep their post-season hopes alive. But after games in three straight days and five games in their last six, the two teams had a three day break before resuming their series. The break, though, proved to be the opposite of what the Rangers needed as they fell 6-1 in Game 6, dropping the series, 4-2.
The final two campaigns of the decade would see the team finish beneath .500, where they would remain until the early 2000's.
After missing the playoffs for the second time in three years (1998-99 and 2000-01), the team fired general manager Jamie McDonald, who earlier released Jess Snyder of his duties as head coach. Prior to the start of the 2001-02 season, Peter DeBoer was named the team's new head coach. He would lead them to a 35-22-10-1 record and a third place finish in the Midwest Division, culminating in a first round playoff matchup with division rival, the Guelph Storm. The Storm would sweep the season series, 4-0, but brighter days were soon to come for the Rangers with DeBoer at the helm.
In 2002-03 the Rangers brought in Steve Spott, a former assistant to Peter DeBoer in their days with the Plymouth Whalers, into the fold. The team, which featured the likes of Mike Richards, Derek Roy, Gregory Campbell and David Clarkson, sputtered out of the gate with three losses and a tie in their first four games. After reaching mid-October with a record of 3-3-2-1 the team finally began to hit its stride, winning eight in a row (11-3-2-1). During November and December they lost just five games, and sported a 26-8-3-1 record as the calendar year changed to 2003. It wasn't until January 12 when they lost their tenth game of the season, and they rebounded with their 30th win of the campaign the following game on January 17. They only lost back-to-back games once from January on; the final two games of the regular season.
The Rangers finished the campaign with a record of 46-14-5-3 (W-L-T-OTL), winning the Midwest Division; those 46 wins setting a new franchise best. Their division title set up a first-round playoff matchup with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who the Rangers disposed of in four straight games. The Greyhounds managed just three goals in the series, being shut out twice by goaltender Scott Dickie in Games 1 and 2. The Rangers faced the Guelph Storm in Round 2, dropping their Highway 7 rivals in five games. Round 3 saw them face the Plymouth Whalers. After skating to a 2-2 series tie through the first four games, the Whalers claimed a 2-1 overtime win at The Aud to take a 3-2 lead. The Rangers earned a convincing 7-4 win in Game 6 to stay alive, then skated to a berth in the OHL Final with a 3-1 win in Game 7.
In the league championship they would take on the eastern conference champion Ottawa 67's. The 67's picked up a 3-2 overtime win in Game 1, but from thereon out it was all Kitchener as the Rangers won the next four games to be crowned J. Ross Robertson Cup champions for the third time in their history. Of the five game series, three games went to overtime including the series clinching game which was decided in double OT. Derek Roy was named the MVP of the playoffs.
The 2003 Memorial Cup was played at Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec. Kitchener represented the champions of the Ontario Hockey League, while defencemen Josh Georges, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber were members of the Western Hockey League champion Kelowna Rockets. The Hull Olympiques - featuring forwards Max Talbot and Jean-Michel Daoust - were the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions while the host Quebec Remparts were led by forwards David Masse and Josh Hennessy.
Kitchener went through the round-robin undefeated, beating the Remparts 4-3 in their opener, the Olympiques, 4-1 in their second game, and the Rockets, 4-2. In the championship final, the Rangers jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Andre Benoit just 1:45 into the game, and were up 2-0 after a Gregory Campbell power play goal at 3:32. Evan McGrath's first of two second period goals made it 3-0 Kitchener, as the Rangers and Olympiques each tallied three goals a piece in the middle frame. With the Rangers holding a 5-3 lead through 40 minutes of play, David Clarkson added another with 2:38 to play to secure the club's second Memorial Cup title, defeating Hull, 6-3.
The following season the Rangers finished with a modest record of 34-26-6-2 as they competed with division rivals, the London Knights and Guelph Storm, who each finished the campaign with more than 100 points. Their first round playoff matchup was against the Plymouth Whalers, but besides eking out a 5-4 win in Game 3, the Rangers were handily defeated in the series, 4-1.
In 2004-05, the Rangers once again finished the regular season third in the Midwest Division (35-20-9-4), but their run in the playoffs was a much longer one than the year prior. After defeating the Erie Otters in six games, Kitchener went on to sweep the Owen Sound Attack in Round 2. Their third round matchup was vs. the London Knights, but after skating through a 1-1 series tie after the first two games, the Knights won the next three and eliminated the Rangers in five games.
Despite registering a franchise-best 47 wins the following year in 2005-06 (47-19-1-1) (W-L-OTL-SOL), the Blueshirts and their 96 point campaign was second-best to the London Knights (49 wins, 102 points) in the Midwest Division standings. But after such a successful regular season, things unfortunately came to a screeching halt in the first round of the playoffs, as the Owen Sound Attack (who finished 25 points behind Kitchener in the regular season), dropped the Rangers in five games in the opening round.
The team forged on the next season in 2006-07, once again turning out another 47-win campaign (47-17-1-3, 98 points), but again finished second in the Midwest Division to the London Knights (50-14-1-3, 104 points). The Rangers barreled out of the first round, sweeping the Sarnia Sting, 4-0, but were halted by the Plymouth Whalers, 4-1, in Round 2.
In May of 2007, it was announced that the Rangers would host the 2008 Memorial Cup, giving the team an automatic entry into the tournament. The team enjoyed much success in the 2000's, but they were gearing up for what they'd hoped to be their best season yet. The 2007-08 team finished with a regular season record of 53-11-1-3, which remains a franchise best in wins and points to this day. They were crowned the winners of the Hamilton Spectator Trophy as the team with the most points (110) in the OHL through the regular season.
In the opening round of the playoffs the Rangers downed the Plymouth Whalers in four straight games, outscoring their opponents, 29-13. In Round 2 it was another sweep for the Blueshirts, this time against the Sarnia Sting. In a display of defensive dominance, the Rangers surrendered just six goals in those four games, outscoring Sarnia, 18-4. In the third round they met the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but again skated to victory, this time with a 4-1 series win. The Ontario Hockey League final pitted the Rangers against the eastern conference champion Belleville Bulls. After a 3-0 Rangers series lead evaporated into a 3-3 tie, a nervous Rangers Nation eagerly anticipated the upcoming Game 7 back at The Aud. The Rangers would earn their fourth Ontario Hockey League championship with a 4-1 win over the Bulls in the series clinching finale.
The 2008 Memorial Cup was played at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener represented both the champions of the Ontario Hockey League and the host team. As league finalists, the Belleville Bulls (featuring Matt Beleskey; 41 goals, 90 points in 62 regular season games and PK Subban; eight goals, 46 points in 58 games) also earned a berth in the tournament as representatives of the OHL. Jared Spurgeon, Tyler Johnson, Jared Cowen and Dustin Tokarski were members of the Western Hockey League champion Spokane Chiefs. The Gatineau Olympiques - featuring forwards Claude Giroux, Matthew Pistilli and Paul Byron - were the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champions.
Kitchener won its first game of the tournament, 6-5 in overtime, vs. Gatineau, before dropping a 2-1 decision to Spokane in the second game of the round robin. Their third game was a 4-3 overtime loss to Belleville, which set up a semi-final meeting between the two teams two nights later in which the Rangers won handily, 9-0. The stage was set for a Kitchener-Spokane final which ended in heartbreak for the home side, as the Chiefs skated to a 4-1 win and a Memorial Cup championship on the Rangers home ice at The Aud. During the trophy presentation, the Chiefs endured an infamous gaffe which saw the Memorial Cup come apart and break while the team was passing it among themselves during their celebration.
Following the Memorial Cup run of 2007-08, head coach Peter DeBoer was hired as head coach of the NHL's Florida Panthers and assistant Steve Spott was named the new head coach of the club. After seven straight winning seasons, the team took a step back in the 2008-09 campaign after losing many graduating players from their championship squad. They finished under .500 and fifth in the Midwest Division with a 26-37-3-2 record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000-01.
It didn't take long to turn things around with Spott at the helm, as the team rebounded with a 34-point improvement the following season, finishing with a record of 42-19-4-3. After a 4-2 series win over the Saginaw Spirit and an 8-3, Game 7 win over the favoured London Knights in Round 2, the Rangers were bounced from the playoffs in the third round by the Windsor Spitfires in Game 7 after holding a 3-0 series lead. The Spitfires would go on to win their first of back-to-back Memorial Cups.
On October 30, 2009, 16-year-old rookie defenceman Ben Fanelli was hit from behind by 20-year-old overage forward Michael Liambis of the Erie Otters at a high rate of speed behind the Rangers' net. The hit, which came at the 7:52 mark of the second period, occurred with such force that it caused Fanelli's helmet to fly off before his head struck a glass partition at the Zamboni entrance. He would suffer a fractured skull and orbital bone and was immediately airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital where he was placed in intensive care. Fanelli was released from Hamilton General Hospital a week later on November 6, 2009. Liambas was suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. After an absence of nearly two years, Fanelli returned to the Rangers and later became team captain. He was named the recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Award as the OHL Humanitarian of the Year, and also named the CHL Humanitarian of the Year. Since the incident, Fanelli has been instrumental in mental health and brain injury awareness, including founding Headstrong - Fanelli 4 Brain Injury Awareness, while also becoming involved as a board member with EMPWR, as well as hosting his own podcast HeroicMinds.
The Kitchener Rangers have appeared in the Memorial Cup six times, winning twice. They have won the J. Ross Robertson Cup four times, are seven-time Hamilton Spectator Trophy winners, and have won eight division titles.
|Hamilton Spectator Trophy (Most Points in the OHL)||Division Title||Wayne Gretzky Trophy (Western Conference Champions)||J. Ross Robertson Cup (OHL Champions)||Memorial Cup (CHL Champions)|
|1965-66||-||-||N/A||Lost to Oshawa Generals||-|
|1967-68||82 points||-||-||Lost to Niagara Falls Flyers||-|
|1980-81||-||Emms Trophy||-||Champions vs. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||Lost to Cornwall Royals in championship final|
|1981-82||-||Emms Trophy||-||Champions vs. Ottawa 67's||Champions vs. Sherbrooke Castors|
|1983-84||106 points||Emms Trophy||-||Lost to Ottawa 67's||Lost to Ottawa 67's in championship final|
|1988-89||88 points||Emms Trophy||-||-||-|
|1989-90||-||-||-||Lost to Oshawa Generals||Lost to Oshawa Generals in championship final|
|2002-03||100 points||Holody Trophy||Champions vs. Plymouth Whalers||Champions vs. Ottawa 67's||Champions vs. Hull Olympiques|
|2007-08||110 points||Holody Trophy||Champions vs. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||Champions vs. Belleville Bulls||Lost to Spokane Chiefs in championship final|
|2009-10||-||-||Lost to Windsor Spitfires||-||-|
|2011-12||-||-||Lost to London Knights||-||-|
|2017-18||-||Holody Trophy||Lost to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds||-||-|
There have been 23 coaches in the history of the Kitchener Rangers franchise.
*OHL Coach of the Year (Matt Leyden Trophy)
^CHL Coach of the Year
The Rangers do not retire numbers (except for the no. 1 which is dedicated to the fans) but choose to honour numbers instead; hanging banners from the rafters while still having them in use for present players. Honoured numbers include five Rangers alumni who were later elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame:
Two other numbers are also raised to the rafters of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, honouring two former Rangers who lost their lives at a young age:
Gary Crosby was a member of the Rangers for two seasons from 1968-70. The centre was tragically killed in the early morning hours of July 29, 1972 in a head-on collision on Highway 7, eleven kilometers west of Stratford. Crosby was 20 years old.
Jim McGeachie was a member of the Rangers for two seasons from 1978-1980. The left winger was tragically killed in May, 1980 after his red Ford Pinto was hit by an oncoming vehicle along Highway 9 near Teviotdale while he was a member of the Rangers. McGeachie was 19 years old.
The Rangers have 186 alumni who have played in the National Hockey League or World Hockey Association. Five alumni have been elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Bill Barber, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, Larry Robinson and Scott Stevens.
The Kitchener Rangers have had 54 captains in their team history.
|Single Season Team Records|
|Most Goals For||418||1983-84|
|Fewest Goals For||142||1963-64|
|Fewest Goals Against||164||1966-67|
|Most Goals Against||425||1979-80|
|Single Season Individual Records|
|Most Goals||Wayne Presley||63||1983-84|
|Most Assists||Jason Akeson||84||2010-11|
|Most Points||Dwight Foster||143||1976-77|
|Most Points by a rookie||Brian Bellows||116||1980-81|
|Most Points by a defenceman||Jason Gladney||92||1993-94|
|Best Goals Against Average*||Dan Turple||2.25||2005-06|
|*(min. 1,500 minutes played)|
A number of Kitchener Rangers players, coaches and staff have earned accolades at the Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League levels, as well as distinctions at the Memorial Cup.
Members of the Kitchener Rangers have been named recipients of OHL Awards 34 times.
|1967-68||Walt Tkaczuk||Red Tilson Trophy||OHL Most Outstanding Player|
|1973-74||Don Edwards||Dave Pinkney Trophy||OHL Lowest Team GAA|
|1976-77||Dwight Foster||Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scorer|
|1982-83||Al MacInnis||Max Kaminsky Trophy||OHL Defenceman of the Year|
|1983-84||Shawn Burr||Emms Family Award||OHL Rookie of the Year|
|1983-84||Wayne Presley||Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scoring Right Winger|
|1983-84||John Tucker||Red Tilson Trophy||OHL Most Outstanding Player|
|1983-84||Tom Barrett||Matt Leyden Trophy||OHL Coach of the Year|
|1986-87||Ron Goodall||Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scoring Right Winger|
|1988-89||Joe McDonnell||Matt Leyden Trophy||OHL Coach of the Year|
|1988-89||Gus Morschauser||OHL Goaltender of the Year|
|1990-91||Mike Torchia||OHL Goaltender of the Year|
|1990-91||Joey St. Aubin||Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Overage Player|
|1992-93||Tim Spitzig||Bobby Smith Trophy||OHL Scholastic Player of the Year|
|1995-96||Boyd Devereaux||Bobby Smith Trophy||OHL Scholastic Player of the Year|
|1996-97||Shawn Degagne||F.W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy||OHL Lowest Rookie GAA|
|1999-00||Derek Roy||Emms Family Award||OHL Rookie of the Year|
|2002-03||Steve Bienkowski||OHL Executive of the Year|
|2002-03||Derek Roy||Wayne Gretzky 99 Award||OHL Playoff MVP|
|2003-04||Andre Benoit||William Hanley Trophy||OHL Most Sportsmanlike Player|
|2004-05||Andre Benoit||Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Overage Player|
|2005-06||Mark Packwood||Dave Pinkney Trophy||OHL Lowest Team GAA|
|2005-06||Dan Turple||Dave Pinkney Trophy||OHL Lowest Team GAA|
|2007-08||Nick Spaling||William Hanley Trophy||OHL Most Sportsmanlike Player|
|2007-08||Josh Unice||F.W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy||OHL Lowest Rookie GAA|
|2007-08||Justin Azevedo||Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scorer|
|2007-08||Justin Azevedo||Red Tilson Trophy||OHL Most Outstanding Player|
|2007-08||Justin Azevedo||Wayne Gretzky 99 Award||OHL Playoff MVP|
|2010-11||Jason Akeson||Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scorer|
|2010-11||Jason Akeson||Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Scoring Right Winger|
|2010-11||Jason Akeson||William Hanley Trophy||OHL Most Sportsmanlike Player|
|2010-11||Jason Akeson||Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy||OHL Top Overage Player|
|2011-12||Steve Bienkowski||OHL Executive of the Year|
|2012-13||Ben Fanelli||Dan Snyder Memorial Award||OHL Humanitarian of the Year|
Members of the Kitchener Rangers have been named to All-Star teams 61 times.
|1967-68||Mike Robitaille||D||First Team|
|1967-68||Walt Tkaczuk||C||First Team|
|1967-68||Jack Egers||LW||First Team|
|1973-74||Don Edwards||G||First Team|
|1973-74||Rick Chartraw||D||First Team|
|1973-74||Dave Maloney||D||Second Team|
|1974-75||Don Edwards||G||First Team|
|1976-77||Dwight Foster||C||Third Team|
|1978-79||Doug Sulliman||LW||Third Team|
|1979-80||Paul Coffey||D||Second Team|
|1980-81||Brian Bellows||RW||Third Team|
|1980-81||Jeff Larmer||LW||Third Team|
|1980-81||Orval Tessier||Coach||Third Team|
|1981-82||Al MacInnis||D||First Team|
|1981-82||Brian Bellows||RW||First Team|
|1981-82||Jeff Larmer||LW||Second Team|
|1982-83||Al MacInnis||D||First Team|
|1982-83||Joe Crozier||Coach||Second Team|
|1982-83||Wendell Young||G||Third Team|
|1983-84||Dave Shaw||D||First Team|
|1983-84||John Tucker||C||First Team|
|1983-84||Wayne Presley||RW||First Team|
|1983-84||Tom Barrett||Coach||First Team|
|1985-86||Shawn Burr||C||Second Team|
|1985-86||Ron Sanko||RW||Third Team|
|1986-87||David Latta||LW||Third Team|
|1988-89||Gus Morschauser||G||First Team|
|1988-89||Joe McDonnell||Coach||First Team|
|1989-90||Gilbert Dionne||LW||Third Team|
|1989-90||Steven Rice||RW||Third Team|
|1990-91||Mike Torchia||G||First Team|
|1990-91||Steven Rice||RW||Second Team|
|1993-94||Jason Gladney||D||Third Team|
|1995-96||David Belitski||G||Third Team|
|1999-00||Allan Rourke||D||Second Team|
|2001-02||Steve Eminger||D||Second Team|
|2002-03||Steve Eminger||D||Second Team|
|2002-03||Peter DeBoer||Coach||Third Team|
|2003-04||Andre Benoit||D||Second Team|
|2004-05||Andre Benoit||D||First Team|
|2004-05||Mike Richards||C||Second Team|
|2005-06||Dan Turple||G||Second Team|
|2005-06||Matt Lashoff||D||Third Team|
|2006-07||Jakub Kindl||D||Second Team|
|2007-08||Justin Azevedo||C||First Team|
|2007-08||Matt Halischuk||RW||First Team|
|2007-08||Yannick Weber||D||Second Team|
|2007-08||Steve Mason||G||Second Team|
|2007-08||Peter DeBoer||Coach||Second Team|
|2009-10||Jeremy Morin||LW||Second Team|
|2009-10||Chris MacKinnon||LW||Third Team|
|2010-11||Ryan Murphy||D||First Team|
|2010-11||Jason Akeson||RW||Second Team|
|2011-12||Ryan Murphy||D||Second Team|
|2011-12||Steve Spott||Coach||Second Team|
|2011-12||John Gibson||G||Third Team|
|2012-13||Ryan Murphy||D||Second Team|
|2012-13||John Gibson||G||Second Team|
|2015-16||Mike Van Ryn||Coach||Third Team|
|2016-17||Adam Mascherin||LW||First Team|
|2017-18||Adam Mascherin||LW||Third Team|
Members of the Kitchener Rangers have been named to All-Star teams 23 times.
|1991-92||Trevor Gallant||C||Second Team|
|1992-93||Ryan Pawluk||LW||Second Team|
|1993-94||David Belitski||G||First Team|
|1995-96||Boyd Devereaux||C||Second Team|
|1997-98||Mike Gorman||G||Second Team|
|1999-00||Derek Roy||C||First Team|
|2001-02||Petr Kanko||RW||Second Team|
|2002-03||Evan McGrath||C||Second Team|
|2003-04||Boris Valabik||D||First Team|
|2003-04||Matt Lashoff||D||Second Team|
|2004-05||Justin Azevedo||C||First Team|
|2004-05||Mike Duco||LW||Second Team|
|2006-07||Yannick Weber||D||Second Team|
|2007-08||Mikkel Boedker||RW||First Team|
|2007-08||Josh Unice||G||First Team|
|2008-09||Jason Akeson||RW||Second Team|
|2009-10||Ryan Murphy||D||First Team|
|2009-10||Gabriel Landeskog||RW||First Team|
|2011-12||Radek Faksa||C||First Team|
|2013-14||Nick Magyar||RW||Second Team|
|2014-15||Adam Mascherin||LW||Second Team|
|2016-17||Greg Meireles||RW||Second Team|
|2016-17||Giovanni Vallati||D||Second Team|
The Kitchener Rangers play home games at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex. The Auditorium was built in 1951 and underwent major renovations in 2002. In 2007/2008 over 500 seats were added to accommodate larger crowds for the 2008 Memorial Cup. Over the 2012 off season the Aud was once again expanded with the addition of close to 1000 seats, as well as an upper concourse, and improvement to team dressing rooms and offices The Complex includes Centennial Stadium for football (demolished spring 2013, due to safety concerns), Jack Couch Park for baseball, the Kiwanis and Kinsmen arenas and the main Auditorium arena known as the Dom Cardillo arena.
Legend: OTL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout loss
When the Rangers first appeared in Kitchener, their sweater design mimicked their NHL sponsor, the New York Rangers, with the Ranger letters set diagonally across the sweater. The Kitchener Rangers colours have always been blue, red and white.
In 1992 the Rangers incorporated a character into their uniform to boost souvenir sales. The initial design had a Texas Ranger riding a horse. In all the logo went through 3 designs for their regular jerseys involving Tex first displaying Tex riding the horse in a circular logo, then altering the circular logo into a shield and then finally removing the horse. Tex was also featured on the Rangers' third jersey in the late 1990s, with a revised-looking Tex face with a menacing look and prominent grey moustache with a western-style star behind it. The jersey actually prompted a re-model of the tex mascot from a round happy tex, to a new "Tex" with more attitude, that mascot is still in use today, though the jersey was informally retired.
For the 2000–01 OHL season the Rangers reverted to their classic style New York Rangers sweaters. The Rangers wore a third jersey from 2005–07.  It displayed horizontal red and blue bars on a white background with the Rangers shield shoulder patches. In 2010, a new third jersey was unveiled. The jersey was influenced by the Rangers' 2008 Commemorative Memorial Cup jersey with the same soldier crest. It has a red background and the Rangers' logo on blue shoulders.