Karel Rachunek scoring one of his first two goals of the season against the Stars’ Mike Smith. The Rangers have won 8 of their past 11 games. Credit...Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

As time passes, and we avidly follow our favorite sports teams, a multitude of players come and go. While we may recall them during their time with the team, some slip through the crevices of our memory, only to resurface through a nostalgic memory or an old piece of media, causing us to reconnect their faces and names with the iconic Rangers uniform.

Among the hallowed names like Messier, Leetch, Giacomin, Lundqvist, and others, there are those more unknown Rangers, such as Andrew Yogan, Chris Holt, Al Montoya, and others who may have faded from our recollection. As we traverse the regular season, we’ll delve into a few of these “Forgotten Rangers”

In this edition, we take a look at two defensemen who were decent depth pieces for New York after the lockout.

Thomas Pock, Defenseman

Time with Rangers: 59 games over 4 seasons, with stints in Hartford.

In my early days of playing the vintage EA Sports NHL video games, I often scouted players in Hartford to serve as injury substitutes in my franchise team. One of these gems I discovered was Thomas Pock.

Hailing from Austria, Pock initially made waves as a star forward with the UMass Minutemen. Surprisingly, he went undrafted after college. Nonetheless, Pock inked his first professional contract with the Rangers on March 23, 2004, marking the beginning of his NHL journey. He made his NHL debut toward the conclusion of the 2003–04 season.

Pock’s Rangers career kicked off in the 2005–06 season, by playing in eight games, contributing one goal, one assist, and four penalty minutes. However, he primarily honed his craft with the Hartford Wolf Pack that season, amassing an impressive 61 points in 65 games.

His stellar performance earned him second place in the league among defensemen and a spot on the AHL Second All-Star Team. The following season saw Pock participate in 44 games for the Rangers, recording four goals, four assists, and 16 penalty minutes. He also played a role in the first-round playoff series against the Thrashers, notching three assists.

Soon after, at the start of the 2008-09 season, the Rangers placed Pock on waivers, and he was claimed by the Islanders. During his time with the Islanders, Pock experienced a career-high by playing in 59 games. While he displayed moments of competence as a defenseman, he wasn’t without his flaws, and many players in his position faced similar challenges.

Following his stint with the Islanders, Pock ventured overseas to continue his hockey career, representing teams in Switzerland, Sweden, and his homeland of Austria.

In 2017, Pock concluded his playing career and transitioned into the role of head coach for the Boston Pride in the National Women’s Hockey League. However, he decided to part ways with the Pride after just one season. Subsequently, he assumed the coaching responsibilities for the Northern Cyclones in the USPHL Elite league.

Karel Rachunek, Defenseman

Time with Rangers: 78 games split over two seasons (03-04, 06-07).

Originally selected by Ottawa, Rachunek’s NHL journey changed when he was traded to the Rangers in March 2004 in exchange for Greg de Vries. After completing the season with New York, Rachunek ventured overseas before the NHL lockout, representing Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the RSL and Orli Znojmo in the CZE league.

He then returned to the Rangers for the 2006-07 season, participating in 66 games. Throughout both stints with New York, he maintained a plus/minus rating of -9 and contributed a total of 30 points. Rachunek epitomized the archetype of a dependable second-pair defenseman, never flashy but consistently reliable.

Following his time with New York, Rachunek briefly joined the Devils before returning to Russia to play for Dynamo Moscow and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Tragically, Rachunek was one of the 44 members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team who lost their lives in the devastating plane crash that occurred on September 7, 2011, in Russia.


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