Continuing with our "Blueshirts By The Numbers" section, we get to number 2 which obviously goes to Brian Leetch.
Leetch was drafted 9th overall in the 1986 NHL entry draft. He would play his first game for the New York Rangers just one year after that, posting 2 goals and 12 assists in the 17 games that he dressed in. Four years later Leetch would notch 22 goals and 80 assists for 102 points, a single season points record for a Rangers defenseman.
In 1994 Leetch would be one of the key cogs leading the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. That season he posted 23 goals and 56 assists for 79 points in his 84 games. In the playoffs he posted an insane 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 23 playoff games, a performance which earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs. Brian was the first and still the only American born player to win the trophy.
Leetch has won so many awards with the New York Rangers, I'll just list them here in order of when he got them:
- 1989: Leetch was awarded the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year. (He had 23 goals and 48 assists for 71 points in only 63 games that year.)
- 1992: First American defenseman to put up 100 points in a season. (Only 5th defenseman all-time)
- 1992: Norris Trophy: NHL's best defenseman.
- 1994: Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs. (He was the first American to ever win the award.)
- 1994: Stanley Cup Champion.
- 1997 Leetch was awarded his second Norris Trophy.
- 2002 Silver medalist with the U.S.A Olympic Squad
- Brian Leetch was a 10-time All-Star
- As a defenseman he had five 20+ goal seasons.
- 1,000 Points as an NHL defenseman, the only American defenseman to ever do so.
- Served as Captain of the Rangers after Mark Messier's departure.
Many consider Leetch to be the greatest American to ever play the game, and even more consider him to be the greatest Ranger to ever grace the ice. Unfortunately, he was not permitted to finish his career as a Ranger, due to Glen Sather trading him to Toronto on Leetch's 36th birthday.
On January 24th, 2008 Leetch's number was raised to the Garden rafters. In 2009 Brian Leetch would be placed where he belonged, in the NHL Hockey Hall Of Fame.
Aside from being my all-time favorite Ranger, he was the classiest player to ever play the game. Here is a video clip of probably the greatest goal I have ever seen, scored by Mr. Leetch: