Former Rangers Defenseman Carol Vadnais Passes Away at 68
Carol Vadnais was Montreal born and, like all boys born in Montreal, he longed to wear the Bleu, Blanc ET Rogue sweater of the famed Canadiens. And he did. In 1966, Carol became part of the most storied hockey team in the NHL. He played 42 games with the Habs and was part of a Stanley Cup Championship in 1967-68.
He was then picked up by the Oakland Seals (they would later become the California Golden Seals) in the 1968 Expansion Draft. He quickly became not only the Captain of the newly formed Bay Area team, but was their best player as well.
As the best player on a newly formed, cash strapped team, you are desired by everyone who could afford you. The Boston Bruins turned out to be just that team and Carol went from the basement to the penthouse, as he became a member of the Big Bad Bruins. Playing alongside future Hall of Famers Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr, Carol was able to hoist the Stanley Cup in 1972, as the Bruins defeated the NY Rangers in 6 hard fought games.
Playing with the Bruins during the early to mid 1970’s meant you were near the top of the Hockey world each and every year. The Bruins made it back to the Cup Finals in 1974, only to lose to the Flyers in 6 games.
On November 7th, 1975; the blockbuster trade that shook two Original 6 Teams and two hockey crazy towns, took place. Boston sent Phil Esposito and Carol Vadnais to the Rangers in return for Jean Ratelle, Brad Park and Joe Zanussi.
Everyone was shocked by this and it took a while for the 4 stars to find their way on a new team and in a new city. But Carol took to NYC and the fans took to him.
In the remaining 64 games of the 1975-76 season, he scored 20 goals and added 30 assists for 50 points, which led all Ranger Defenseman. He was also selected to play in his fifth All-Star Game.
In the next three seasons with the Rangers Carol never finished lower than 40 points scored. In 1976-77 he again led all team d-men with 48 points and made the All-Star Game once again. In 1977-78 he scored 48 points and played in a career high 80 games.
But it was the 1978-79 season where the cigar smoking French Canadian made his mark in NYC. His 45 points in the regular season was pretty good, but then in 18 playoff games, he added 2 goals and 9 assists for a total of 11 points. The Rangers made the Cup Finals, but fell to Montreal in 5 games.
All in all, Carol would play in 485 games as a NY Ranger, score 56 goals dish out 190 assists for a total of 246 points to go along with 690 penalty minutes. He ranks 11th in franchise history in goals, assists and points by a defenseman.
In a career that lasted 17 years and four teams (he later played for the NJ Devils), Carol scored 169 goals and 418 assists for 587 games and 1813 penalty minutes in 1087 career games. He also made the playoffs in 13 of those 17 years. In 106 playoff games, Carol added another 10 goals, 40 assists for 50 points to go along with 185 penalty minutes. His name is on two Stanley Cups (1968 and 1972). He played in six All-Star Games and represented Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1977 World Championships.
In 54 playoff games with the NY Rangers, Carol scored 5 goals, 16 assists for 21 points, which places him 12th in Ranger history for points by a defenseman in the playoffs and is tied for 12th in Ranger history in goals and assists by a defenseman in the playoffs.
Carol is survived by his daughter Michele and two grandchildren.
He was a great hockey player and a great guy and he will be missed by players and fans alike.
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