It’s been seven decades since the New York Rangers had a star Jewish defenseman. This season the team had the best defenseman in the US National Hockey League, Jewish or otherwise.
Adam Fox, a native of Jericho, on Long Island, and a longtime Rangers fan, was named the winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy, which goes to hockey’s top defenseman, last week.
The 23-year-old, a former star at Harvard, joins Hall of Famer Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins, a non-Jewish Canadian, in winning the award in his second season.
“It’s special,” said Fox, whose father is a longtime Rangers season ticket holder, according to the New York Post. “I’ve been throwing that word around a lot the last few weeks and it’s now accurate for how I feel. You hear your name with [Orr and Leetch], it’s always going to be a special, special thing.”
He was talking about Brian Leetch, a former Rangers defenseman and also a Norris Trophy winner.
Along with stopping opposing scorers, Fox led NHL defensemen with 42 assists while finishing second in points with 47. He also was recognized as first team all-league.
Asked by the New York Post about being one of the NHL’s few Jewish athletes, he said in a 2019 interview, “It’s definitely nice to represent a community, for sure.”
Fox follows in the footsteps of Hy Buller, who played three seasons for the Rangers in the early 1950s. Buller was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1951-52, according to the iconic hockey writer Stan Fischler, who also is Jewish.
Fox, like Buller, is 5-foot-11 and weighs 181 pounds; he compensates for his lack of size with speed. And he’s a fan favorite, also like Buller.
“Buller’s connection to the large Jewish population in New York was used by Rangers management to attract a new audience to the home games,” Fischler recalls. “Banners emblazoned with the Star of David hung from the Garden and his faith was frequently reinforced by sports writers.”
In the 1930s, the Rangers featured Jewish defenseman Alex Levinsky.
In 2019, the New Jersey Devils drafted Jack Hughes — the first Jewish player to be picked No. 1.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency