Vic Hadfield, the rugged power forward who played left wing on the Rangers' famed GAG (Goal-A-Game) line in the late 1960s and early 1970s, admittedly was caught by surprise in February when his linemate, Blueshirts icon Rod Gilbert, announced that Hadfield’s No. 11 would be raised to the Garden rafters this season.
On Sunday, before the Rangers played the Jets, Hadfield became the 10th player in team history to have his number raised to the ceiling, joining GAG line pals Gilbert and Jean Ratelle.
“I sincerely hope,’’ Hadfield said to the crowd, “that everyone here experiences something, anything in your life that makes you feel like I feel now.’’
Hadfield, 78, was the first Ranger to score 50 goals in a season, netting two goals in the final game of the 1971-72 season to get to that milestone.
Gilbert — who, along with Ratelle and their former coach, Emile Francis, spoke at the ceremony — said of the trio, “The three of us were pretty humble about our success, but this recognition means a lot to us, believe me.’’
Francis said the three comprised the best line in club history. “I’m so proud now that all three of their names will be together again, up on the roof,’’ he said.
Hadfield joins goaltenders Eddie Giacomin and Mike Richter, Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Andy Bathgate, Brian Leetch, Harry Howell, Gilbert and Ratelle in the rafters.
Giacomin, Richter, Messier, Graves and Leetch, of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion team, were present, as were Ron Greschner and Brad Park.
Hadfield was given several gifts, including a cruise. The current Rangers watched the event from the bench, all wearing jerseys with Hadfield’s name and No. 11.