When the New York Rangers acquired Chris Higgins in a Summer 2009 trade, the team got a player that scored at least 22 goals for three straight years before an off 2008-09 campaign. The move didn’t work out and a couple of stops later, he’s on the verge of hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks. His team defeated the Boston Bruins tonight by a 1-0 score to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
A Long Island native, Higgins got to play for one of his hometown teams and really spoiled his opportunity. He was brought in with defenseman prospect Ryan McDonagh and another blue-liner to dump the contract of Scott Gomez. It just so happened that in this stretch of three years, every acquisition the team made, failed. This includes signing Wade Redden, Chris Drury, and extending the contract of Michal Rozsival. He didn’t even last the season and was traded to the Calgary Flames for Olli Jokinen, another bust. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the thrown-in player to matchup salary caps was Brandon Prust.
Higgins isn’t a big part of the offense, as it’s dominated by the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows, but he is making an impact. He averages about three hits per game and had 4 goals and 4 assists in the 22 games. The reason why he was booted out of New York (besides his underachieving offensive input) was his inability to play defense. He was used sometimes at the point on the power-play and was often beat for short-handed markers by the opposition.
To be honest, it tares me up inside when a player that was a complete bust for the Rangers, helps another team go deep into the playoffs. Vancouver has never won a Stanley Cup before and the 3 game-winning goals by Higgins is a huge reason why the Canucks are one win away from reaching the promised land.
So if Vancouver does indeed finish the job on Monday night, I’m sure Higgins will get a lot of thanks from his fellow teammates. The entire nation of Canada has been waiting for a Cup since 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens won it all. Goalie Roberto Luongo overcame a 12-goal barrage and losing his home crowd to bring the ‘Nucks one step closer to their ultimate goal. Somewhere, Rangers GM Glen Sather is saying “I told you so!” in regards to Mr. Higgins.