November 06, 2009
On Monday Brian Leetch will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This despite an "understated" career, according to John Davidson.
"He was an understated player because of his personality; very thoughtful and if you ever sat down and talked to him about anything you'd find his intelligence level to be very high. But, his play during a game, when they needed something, he could make the difference. Both ends of the ice, too. He was as good defensively as he was offensively. From the defensive position, he could control games and play all night."
He could be an explosive offensive player, but he was always calm, cool and collected.
He was among the best ever. Not only did he win the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, he, not Mark Messier, was also named as the Conn Smythe trophy winner as the playoff MVP. He added two Norris trophies in his career as the NHL's best blue liner. He ranks as the 7th highest scoring defenseman of all time, with 1,028 points in 1,205 regular season games and 97 points in 95 playoff games. He is also the last defenseman to score 100 points in a season.
Leetch's accomplishments saw his jersey #2 retired to the rafters of Madison Square Gardens and has already seen him enshrined in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
The Boston College grad also had a heck of a career on the international stage. He was a member of the 1988, 1998 and 2002 U.S. Olympic hockey teams. He earned a silver medal in 2002 and was named as the top US player. He was also represented the United States in three World Junior championships, 2 World Championships and three Canada Cup/World Cup championships, of course winning the World Cup in 1996. It is safe to say that Leetch and fellow 2009 HHOF inductee Brett Hull led USA Hockey's golden era.
But for all those points and for his long, great career, the highlight was undoubtedly the 1994 Stanley Cup.
"My biggest memory was watching the city celebrate and embrace the team for three days. We knew it was 54 years and to see how much it meant to so many people who followed the organization through parents and grandparents. Anytime, I go back its inevitable that someone says thanks for 1994. It was a great run and it meant a lot to a lot of people."