Joseph Gilbert Yvon Jean Ratelle (born October 3, 1940) is a former Canadian ice hockey player and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Over his 21-season career he averaged almost a point a game. Combining a high level of playing ability with great sportsmanship, he twice won the Lady Byng Trophy. On January 27, 2017, in a ceremony during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, Ratelle was part of the second group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
A product of the New York Rangers organization, Ratelle's hockey career almost ended when he suffered a serious back injury at age 23 and had to undergo major spinal cord surgery. He recovered to become a regular with the Rangers from 1963 until 1975. His greatest success came with the linemates Vic Hadfield and Rod Gilbert in the so-called "GAG line" (which stood for goal a game). He was the perennial scoring leader for the Rangers between 1968 and 1973 when the team was a powerhouse annually among the league's best.
Ratelle was poised to beat out Boston Bruins' legend Phil Esposito for the scoring title in 1972 before he lost fifteen games due to an injury, but came back for the Stanley Cup finals against Boston to lead his team. Only Esposito, Bobby Orr and Johnny Bucyk had scored as many points in league history as Ratelle had managed in his shortened season. His 109 points that season remained a Rangers' scoring record until 2006, when Jaromir Jagr broke the mark.
In November 1975, Ratelle was traded with teammates Brad Park and Joe Zanussi in a blockbuster deal to the Boston Bruins for Esposito and Carol Vadnais. Ratelle finished strongly that year for his second 100-point campaign. On March 21, 1976, he played his 1,000th game, against the Montreal Canadiens. He starred for several more seasons with Boston, gaining admiration for his slick passing, skill at faceoffs and all-around excellent play, retiring a Bruin after the 1981 season. He served for several years thereafter as an assistant coach for the Bruins.
Ratelle played centre in the NHL for twenty-one seasons, accumulating 1,267 points on 491 goals and 776 assists. At the time of his retirement, he was the league's sixth all-time leading scorer. While he never played on a team that won the Stanley Cup, Ratelle was a member of the 1972 Team Canada squad that defeated the Soviet Union in the first-ever Summit Series. He was well known as a gentlemanly player, finishing in the top-five for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship and excellence nine times, including a stretch between the 1970 and 1978 seasons where he was in the top-three six times and won the trophy twice.
On September 12, 1985, Jean Ratelle was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, along with players Bernie Parent and Bert Olmstead.
In 2009, Ratelle was ranked No. 7 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Greats (John Wiley & Sons).
In February of 2017, the New York Rangers announced they will retire Ratelle's No. 19 to the rafters of Madison Square Garden during the 2017-18 season.
Regular season and playoffs
|1960–61||New York Rangers||NHL||3||2||1||3||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1961–62||New York Rangers||NHL||31||4||8||12||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1962–63||New York Rangers||NHL||48||11||9||20||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1963–64||New York Rangers||NHL||15||0||7||7||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1964–65||New York Rangers||NHL||54||14||21||35||14||—||—||—||—||—|
|1965–66||New York Rangers||NHL||67||21||30||51||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|1966–67||New York Rangers||NHL||41||6||5||11||4||4||0||0||0||2|
|1967–68||New York Rangers||NHL||74||32||46||78||18||6||0||4||4||2|
|1968–69||New York Rangers||NHL||75||32||46||78||26||4||1||0||1||0|
|1969–70||New York Rangers||NHL||75||32||42||74||28||6||1||3||4||0|
|1970–71||New York Rangers||NHL||78||26||46||72||14||13||2||9||11||8|
|1971–72||New York Rangers||NHL||63||46||63||109||4||6||0||1||1||0|
|1972–73||New York Rangers||NHL||78||41||53||94||12||10||2||7||9||0|
|1973–74||New York Rangers||NHL||68||28||39||67||16||13||2||4||6||0|
|1974–75||New York Rangers||NHL||79||36||55||91||26||3||1||5||6||5|
|1975–76||New York Rangers||NHL||13||5||10||15||2||—||—||—||—||—|