Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the New York Rangers One-Hit Wonders.
The New York Rangers One-Hit Wonders
The Fort Fracnes, Ontario native came to the Rangers after two seasons of 24-goals with the Sudbury Wolves. Mike Allison was taken in the second round, 35th overall of the 1980 NHL Draft. The former top pick of the Ontario Hockey Association Priority Draft. He flourished in his second season with the Wolves with 95 points.
Allison made the team right out of training camp and immediately paid dividends. Who would have thought that he would be peaking before his 20th birthday?
He made one heck of a debut with a goal on his very first shot on Oct. 9, 1980. Allison became the youngest Ranger to score on a debut at 19 years and 195 days. Lias Andersson would break that record in 2018 at 19 years and 164 days. Allison kept the good start rolling with a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, it would be the only hat trick of Allison’s career.
He played on a line with Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg for the first part of the season and that helped his numbers. Allison would finish with 26 goals and finish with 64 points. He’d finish with rookie records in assists (38) and points (64). Mark Pavelich would beat those records next season.
After the Wonder
He’d play five more seasons on Broadway, but knee problems prevented him from playing a full season. The most games he played after his rookie year was 48 in the 1981-82 season. Allison only reached double-digits in goals one more time with the Rangers in 1982-83 with 11. He was then traded to the Maple Leafs in the summer of 1986 for Walt Poddubny.
Toronto didn’t get the goal totals like New York did, but Allison did contribute three goals in the 1987 Stanley Cup playoffs. Knee injuries hurt his chances at replicating that magical first season. He was sent to the Los Angeles Kings and did manage 16 and 14 goals in 1987-88 and 1988-89, respectively.
Allison retired at the end of the 1989-90 season and was an assistant coach with Bemidji State in the NCAA and the Kingston Frontenacs. He served as a colour commentator on Kings’ broadcasts for three years.
Petr Prucha was taken in the eighth round, 240th overall of the 2002 NHL Draft. The Czech forward took his time coming to North America as he played in his home country until the end of the 2003-04 season. Prucha got to play alongside legendary countryman Jaromir Jagr in New York.
His career took a similar trajectory as that of Allison’s. Prucha’s Broadway debut was a smash hit and he took the league by storm. However, his first year with the Rangers would be his peak with the team.
He flourished with Jagr and became a devastating force on the power play. The Chrudim, Czechoslovakia native scored 16 power-play goals to break Camille Henry‘s rookie mark with the team. He added 17 assists to make a career-high points.
Prucha helped the Rangers stay in the mix for the Atlantic Division title until the last day of the season. The Rangers lost to the Ottawa Senators on the last day while the New Jersey Devils beat the Montreal Canadiens. New York did finish with the sixth seed, but rival New Jersey went on to sweep the opening-round series in four games. Prucha scored once in that post-season for the Blueshirts.
After the Wonder
The young Czech did score 22 the season with the Rangers, but another incident similar to what to Allison occurred. Prucha suffered a knee injury and he was limited to 22 games and 17 points. The Rangers then added veteran Brendan Shanahan, who took most of the power-play opportunities. He became a healthy scratch and was eventually traded to the Phoenix Coyotes.
Prucha went with Dimitri Kalinin and Nigel Dawes in exchange for defenceman Derek Morris on March 4, 2009. He did find some of his old scoring touch with 13 goals in his first season with the Desert Dogs. However, he struggled in the 2010-11 and was sent down to AHL San Antonio. He managed to get to SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL and scored 14 goals twice in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Injuries caught up to Prucha and he retired after sitting out the 2013-14 season.
There seems to be a pattern in these wonders as the first year with the Rangers is often the best year. Danny Lewicki follows the same trend of players that make a good first impression with New York. He had played parts of four seasons with the Leafs and is the only player to win Allan Cup, Memorial Cup and Stanley Cup while still a junior.
Lewicki scored 16 goals in his first season with Toronto in 1950-51, when the Leafs won the Cup. The young winger ended up third in the Calder Trophy voting for top rookie. He split time with Toronto and the AHL Pittsburgh Hornets. He only played seven games with the Maple Leafs in the 1953-54 season. Rumour has it Conn Smythe was mad at Lewicki for getting married in the 1951 off-season.
The Fort William, Ontario native was sold to the Rangers and he made an immediate impact with the team. Lewicki scored a career-high 29 goals in the 1954-55 season and became a second team league all-star. He was the team’s leading scorer by a 13-point margin over Andy Bathgate and Don Raleigh.
Lewicki also played a clean game with only eight penalty minute for the entire 70-game slate. He ended up second in the Lady Byng Trophy voting, which rewards gentlemanly play. The Rangers did not make the post-season, but the team was on the way back up.
After the Wonder
Lewicki did score 18 goals in the next two seasons, but never had the goal-outburst like he did with his first season with the Rangers. He was exposed in the annual intra-league draft and was picked by the Canadiens. Lewicki played well in camp, but never got a shot with the Habs. Montreal had no plans to play him and he was shipped to the Chicago Black Hawks.
He played one season with Chicago, but his NHL career came to a weird end. Referee Red Storey missed a tripping call that handed Montreal a series-winning goal. Lewicki gave Storey his stick to defend himself. Storey made it out of Chicago Stadium in one piece, but resigned due to pressure from league president Clarence Campbell.
Lewicki was seemingly blackballed and sent to the minors and never called up. He played with the Buffalo Bisons and Quebec Aces of the AHL, but retired in 1963.