Rangers legend Brian Leetch going to IIHF Hall of Fame

New York Rangers legendary defenseman and 1994 Stanley Cup Champion Brian Leetch will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame.

The IIHF made the announcement today and the 2023 inductees will be honored in a ceremony prior to the meal games at the World Hockey Championships on Sunday, May 28th in Finland.

Per the IIHF release:

Brian Leetch was, quite simply, one of the greatest defenders in hockey history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame for his remarkable NHL career, spent mostly with the New York Rangers and during which time he became one of only eight blueliners to eclipse the 1,000-point mark.

The stamens goes on to detail Brian Leetch’s amazing international career for Team USA which includes:

  • Three WJC appearances and winning gold in 1987
  • Played in the 1988 Olympics
  • Two Canada Cup appearances, including leading Team USA to victory as captain 1996

Brian Leetch one of the greatest Rangers

Brian Leetch
Rangers Brian Leetch gets the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP following game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals at Madison Square Garden June 14, 1994. The Rangers won the game 3-2 and the Stanley Cup. Rangers Win Stanley Cup

Has there ever been a more talented and gifted Ranger ever drafted? I doubt it. In 1989 Brian Leetch set an NHL rookie record for defensemen by scoring 23 goals and won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. He became only the 5th NHL defensemen to get over 100 points in a season when he had 102 (22g, 82a) in 1992. That season he picked up his first of two Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman.

Of course, his jaw dropping and inspirational performance in the 1994 playoffs are what he will forever be remembered for. That season he scored 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 23 games. Leetch’s performance was done while having his shoulder frozen before each game in the Finals due to a tear. Those numbers and that courage made him the 1st American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Playoffs.

Leetch would eventually captain the Rangers after Messier had a fall out with management and bolted for Vancouver. It wasn’t a great time for Leetch as the Rangers were a shadow of what they used to be and his style was very reserved and quiet.

Sadly, GM Glen Sather traded him away on March 3rd, 2004 for two 21 year olds, defenseman Maxim Kondratiev, center Jarkko Immonen, a first-round pick in the 2004 draft (Lauri Korpikoski) and a second-round in the 2005 (Michael Sauer).

Trading Leetch was bad enough, but on his birthday? That’s cold.

Leetch finished his NHL career with 1,028 points in 1205 games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. He registered 981 of them with the Blueshirts.

Share: