It’s been an emotional week at CSTB HQ with the news that a consumate professional, an intense, selfless competitor, will never again don a New York uniform. But enough about Carl Pavano, apparently Brian Leetch after “the finest career an American-born hockey player has ever had,” in the words of the Daily News’ John Dellapina, is hanging up his skates.
Leetch was a terror on the power play for most of his 16 seasons as a New York Ranger, an 11 time All-Star, one of just 7 defensemen to with 1000 career points or more, the 24th captain in Rangers history, and the only American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1994). The sight of no. 2 in a Maple Leafs or Bruins jersey was as visually jarring as Santa Claus blowing the Easter Bunny.
He’s a shoo-in for the Hall Of Fame and would have to be considered for any short list of the most important New York sportsmen of the modern era. With Leetch’s retirement, a chunk of my most cherished MSG memories come flooding back in a frenzied bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome. But enough about Slayer at the Felt Forum. I look forward to Brian’s number being raised to the Garden rafters next season, along with the obligatory Phil Mushnick column bemoaning MSG’s attempts to flog some crappy commemorative merchandise.