Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rangers raise Leetch to rafters

Calder Memorial Trophy, 1989
James Norris Trophy, 1992 and 1997
Conn Smythe Trophy, 1994
Stanley Cup, 1994

Regular Season:
1205 GP, 247 G, 781 A, 1028 PTS

97 GP, 28 G, 69 A, 97 PTS

The Rangers honored arguably the best defenseman to call Broadway home. Brian Leetch's number "2" was raised to the rafters of MSG as the organization paraded out a number of Blueshirt luminaries, including Leetch's 1994 teammates - Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and Jeff Beukeboom - and the other memorable 2, Brad Park.

The hour long celebration was highlighted by a classy speech by the honoree. It's no secret Leetch was disappointed to be traded from New York. He managed to reference the trade while still honoring the fans:
"Only once did I have to sit on that visitors' bench and have to represent another organization (boos). And that night, just as you did hundreds of times before, you made sure I knew I was home. And I thank you for that night."
Again, classy. Leetch did seem to take a little delight in the boos at mention of Jim Dolan's name, but so did I.

Forever gracious and reserved, Leetch let a bit of the spotlight shine on teammate Graves, announcing his jersey would be the next retired. Graves should be the last of the Cup winning team to be honored. Beukeboom did not have near the career stats and Sergei Zubov has played the vast majority of his career elsewhere. Messier and Richter are already hanging in the rafters.

For more on Leetch's stellar career check out John Dellapina's Top 10 Brian Leetch Moments and Rick Carpiniello's column in the Journal News.

Leetch's next achievement will surely ba a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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