When the list of the newest members to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame is announced today, Brian Leetch's name is expected to be called. Already a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall, Leetch will join Ranger greats Mark Messier, Ed Giacomin, Rod Gilbert, and Harry Howell, to name just a few.
Leetch won two Norris trophies during his Ranger career (1992 and 1997), and played in 10 All-Star games. Leetch scored 102 points in 1991-92, one of only 5 defensemen to accomplish that feat. His personal accomplishments go on and on, but none bigger than the Conn Smythe trophy he won in the 1994 Stanley Cup team, becoming the first and still only American-born player to do so.
Leetch was the Rangers first round pick in 1986, played for the 1988 U.S Olympic team in Calgary, and made his Rangers debut after the Olympics, scoring 14 points in 17 games.
Some of Leetch's notable achievements:
- Won gold medal at 1996 World Cup of Hockey - Was the captain of Team USA
- Won silver medal at 2002 Winter Olympics
- Rangers Club Record, Assists, Career: 741
- Rangers Club Record, Goals by a defenseman, Career: 240
- Rangers Club Record, Points by a defenseman, Career: 981
- Rangers Club Record, Most assists, Single Season: 80 (1991-92)
- Rangers Club Record, Most points by a defenseman, Single Season: 102 (1991-92)
- Rangers Club Record, Most power play goals by a defenseman, Single Season: 17 (1993-94)
- Captain of the Rangers from 1997-2000
- Most assists, career: 61
- Most points, career: 89
- Most assists, one year: 23, 1993-1994
- Most points, one year: 34, 1993-1994
- Most goals by a defenseman, career: 28
- Most goals by a defenseman, one year: 11, 1993-1994
Brian Leetch was one of the best defensemen of my generation. I don't think there was a d-man better at carrying the puck from one end of the ice to the other, and he was the consummate power play quarterback, the one every puck-moving defenseman who plays for the Rangers will be measured up against for years to come. Watching him play was something special, especially the years he was paired with Jeff Beukeboom, I felt they were the perfect defensive combination, and maybe the best one the Rangers have ever had.
Leetch had his number 2 sent to the rafters at Madison Square Garden on January 24th 2008.
One final note, the day after Brian Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, I did something I'd never done before: I called the office of one of my favorite teams to complain. I got this poor Public Relations guy on the phone, and laid into him for 15 minutes. He told me I was about the 50th call he taken already that day; you could just tell the guy sounded beaten up. I felt bad about taking my frustration out on that guy, but he was the only one who would take my call.
So from all of us at Blueshirt Banter, here's hoping Brian Leetch gets that well deserved phone call today. Some of the other players eligible for the Hall are Steve Yzerman, Bret Hull, and former Ranger Luc Robitaille.