A blueshirt is a common nickname for the New York Rangers, one of the oldest National Hockey League ice hockey teams. The term is somewhat confusing now, since the Rangers are not always garbed in blue, and may in fact wear white shirts trimmed with blue in certain games.
Initially, a player on the New York Rangers was called a Broadway blueshirt. This may be because Broadway is in close proximity to Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers play home games. As well, the Rangers were known as a very classy team when they first began to play.
They tended to attract Broadway stars, and the upper class to games, because of their reputation for “class” and also for their skill at the game. The Ranger or blueshirt players only missed one playoff in their first sixteen years as an organized team.
Often the term blueshirt applies not only to players but also to coaches and managers of the team. Essentially if one works for the New York Rangers, one is a blueshirt. As well, a fan might consider him or herself to be a blueshirt.
Alternately the term blueshirt may be used in contrast to the red shirts of the New Jersey Devils, a rival ice hockey team existing in close proximity to the Rangers. However the Devils didn’t become established in New Jersey until 1982.
Often a blueshirt, whether player or worker, is given quite a bit of respect since the New York Rangers were one of the original six teams in the National Hockey League. Wayne Gretzky, arguably one of the greatest hockey players ever, chose to play out his last few years as a blueshirt, from 1996-1999. When he retired, the National Hockey League also retired his number throughout the entire league.
Referring to a blueshirt hearkens back to the origins of American ice hockey. It may provoke heated debate about the success of the team now, or merely evoke nostalgia about the many accomplishments of the New York Rangers. A blueshirt is a member of a team with history, which to sports fans implies its own kind of class.