Don Raleigh, a former captain of the New York Rangers, has passed away. The 10-year pro played centre for the Rangers in the 1940s and 1950s, making his debut at age 17 in the War years. After his 1943-44 debut, he returned in 1947-48 for the first of nine more seasons in the National Hockey League.
Raleigh served as team captain in 1953-54 and 1954-55, succeeding the post previously held by Allan Stanley. Raleigh stepped down as team captain before the 1955-56 season, which turned out to be his last in the NHL. In all, he scored 107 goals and 331 points in 553 regular season and playoff games (combined). He scored a career-best 61 points in 1951-52 (in 70 games).
In 1950, Raleigh was at his best in getting the Rangers to the Stanley Cup final. In the opening round against the Canadiens, the trio of Raleigh, Pentti Lund and Ed Slowinski combined for 21 points in five games. Raleigh himself scored seven points as the Rangers reached the Stanley Cup final for the first time in a decade.
In the final against the Red Wings, Raleigh scored the overtime winner in games four and five in Detroit. He nearly scored another OT winner in game seven (still in Detroit), but it was not to be. Raleigh hit the post before Pete Babando eventually scored the Stanley Cup winner in double overtime.
Raleigh was the Rangers team MVP in 1950-51, the Frank Boucher Trophy (most popular player) winner in 1951-52, and a runner-up in voting for the NHL’s Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship and high level of play) in 1953-54.
Raleigh was just one of a handful of players that wore No. 7 for the Rangers, first made famous by original New Yorker Frank Boucher. While there were no traditional hockey cards in the 1940s, there was a Bee Hive photo series from which fans could collect Raleigh’s picture. He was also featured on a Bee Hive tie clip.
Raleigh was later featured in four Parkies hockey card sets (1951-52 to 1954-55) and one Topps set (1954-55). Raleigh was also featured on the cover of the Rangers media guide (“The Blue Shirt”) in 1951-52.
Born in Kenora, ON on June 27, 1926, Raleigh spent much of his youth in Winnipeg, MB. He was 86 years old when he passed away in Kingston, ON on Aug. 19, 2012.