Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Leetch, Brian

Leetch, Brian

Brian Leetch attended two years of prep school in New England and it was there that he came into his own. In the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Rangers picked him ninth overall directly from high school, but he did not enter the NHL right away. Instead he joined the 1988 U.S. Olympic team. He also played a year for Boston College, following in the footsteps of his father, Jack, who had also played on the Eagles' hockey team.

When the 1988 Calgary Olympics ended, Leetch did enter the big leagues with New York. His arrival there was much anticipated by the team's front office. Jack Ferreira, the Rangers' director of player development, was one of the New York officials who could not wait to get the youngster into a red, blue, and white uniform of the Broadway Blueshirts.

Leetch did not disappoint, making a big impression right away. He scored 23 goals and recorded 48 assists in his initial season, winning the Calder trophy as the league's outstanding rookie. The rest of the league was beginning to notice the young Texan.

He went through a bit of a sophomore slump the next year, and a fractured ankle at the end of that second season didn't help matters much either, forcing him out of playoff action. Two years later, in 1991-92, Leetch had his best single season, scoring 102 points and netting 22 goals (his 80 assists were a team record, as well) to capture the Norris trophy as the NHL's best defenceman.

Leetch made up for all this lost time in 1993-94 as the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in more than 50 years. He led the way as the top scorer in the post season and was named the Conn Smythe trophy winner as the most valuable player of the playoffs, becoming the first American-born player to win the award.

In 1997 the New York Rangers named Brian Leetch their captain upon the departure of Mark Messier, putting him on centre stage in the high-pressure media capital of the world.

In 1998 Leetch got another chance to represent his country. This time at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Unfortunately, the US would finish a disapointing sixth. Injuries would plague Leetch's 1998-99 season, limiting him to a mere 50 games before rebounding with a 79-point season the following year.

Leetch was a key player on the US silver medal winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and with the Rangers struggling in 2003-04, Leetch was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the latter stages of the season, thus ending his 17-year career on Broadway.

Following a lock out season in 2004-05, Leetch signed a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 2005. The subsequent season Leetch recorded his 1,000th career NHL point and on May 24, 2007, he would announce his official retirement from his 18-year career

Among other accomplishments on the international stage, Leetch has represented his country three times at the World Junior Championships in 1985, 1986 and 1987 where he was named to the First All-Star Team. A member of the U.S. World Championship team in 1989, Canada Cup team in 1991 and winning World Cup team in 1996 and participant in 2004, Leetch was one of 12 players voted to the All-Time USA Hockey Team in 1997.

Esso hockey medals of achievement