When Jean Ratelle received a phone call earlier this year from Rangers president and former teammate Glen Sather telling Ratelle the franchise wanted to retire his No. 19, Ratelle responded quickly. "It'd be a great honor," he told Sather.

"And then I thought the line went dead," Ratelle recalled with a smile. "Maybe he didn't think I was gonna say yes right away."

Maybe. It's been 42 years since Ratelle, 76, last played for the Rangers and 32 years since he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. At last, Ratelle's No. 19 will rise to the rafters on Sunday, Feb. 25 when the Rangers host the Red Wings.

"It's fantastic for us and my family," Ratelle said Wednesday before the 35th annual Rangers Golf Classic at Westchester Country Club. "They're very excited to get together for that night. It's gonna be a lot of fun. Hopefully I won't be too nervous. I'm not good at doing these things.