Top 10 List: #2 Brian Leetch

Yesterday, we introduced the backbone of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion team, a man who backstopped the team, and was another piece of the team who helped transform the team from pretender to contender, then champion. Today we bring you a hall of famer, both in the US Hockey Hal of Fame, and the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Born and raised in Texas, was a solid offensive defender for Boston College in the early to mid 80s. He would then get drafted by the Rangers, and not look back. We bring to you..

#2 Brian Leetch

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

Drafted 9 overall by the Rangers in the 1986 entry draft. He would play one year for Boston College, before quickly making the jump from Hockey East, to the NHL, and played for the Rangers. Quickly impressed with his defensive play, and his mind on the ice, as he could quickly see the ice open up before anyone else could. He only played 17 games in his rookie season, but we knew one thing, he was going to be there for awhile.

He would win the Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie the following year as he posted 23 goals, which is the single season record for rookie defenseman in the NHL while also racking up 48 assists, giving him a total of 71 points, 5 shy of tying Larry Murphy’s record for most points by a rookie defenseman. He would go on to win the James Norris Trophy in 1992, as the leagues best defenseman after accumulating 102 points (22 goals, 80 assists), and would during the teams Stanley Cup victory in 1994, win the Conn Symthe trophy for overall playoffs MVP, scoring 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists).

The team would need a new leader following the departure of Mark Messier in 1997, and Leetch would be their man, wearing the captains “C” until Messier’s return in 2000. While not a vocal leader on and off the ice, Brian’s skill and hard work would pay dividends early in his captaincy. Another Norris trophy was awarded to Leetch for his excellent play. But suddenly the Rangers would fall off the mark, and their period of not making the playoffs would begin.

As the youth movement was about to take over again in New York players started to get traded left and right as GM and President Glen Sather wanted to see a change in guard. In the most shocking move during the duration of his stint as GM (besides signing Redden, Gomez and Drury), Brian Leetch was traded, to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2003-2004 season. He would come back to play of the Boston Bruins during the 2005-2006 season after the lockout. During his time with the Bruins he would record his 1,000th NHL point, and end up retiring at the end of the 2006-2007 season. Teams were interested in his services during that season, but Leetch would not comment, or commit to a return.

The following year on January 24, 2008, his number was retired by the team joining 1994 Stanley Cup teammates Mark Messier and Mike Richter as the two to have their numbers retired. Currently we can see Leetch on random Rangers broadcasts, as well as MSG’s Hockey Night Live.

Leetch was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, which means he will always be attached to hockey’s history. Forever a Ranger.

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