Archive for Brian Leetch
Dan Rosen at NHL.com had an interesting nugget of information this morning, noting that “Brian Leetch was prepared to move back to New York to join Mark Messier on the New York Rangers’ coaching staff” should Messier win the head coaching job in New York. Leetch would have been one of Messier’s assistants, likely –my assumption– working with the defensemen and the powerplay.
Instead, Alain Vigneault was named head coach, and Leetch wound up working in Brendan Shanahan’s Department of Player Safety office.
The Rangers have yet to schedule a formal announcement, but it’s all but official that Alain Vigneault will succeed John Tortorella as head coach. The Suit will have more on the pros and cons of the hiring tomorrow, but let’s take a look at some key questions in the immediate aftermath of today’s news.
How does this affect Mark Messier’s future with the organization?
GM Glen Sather deserves credit for using his head, not his heart, in choosing Vigneault over Messier as coach. Many surmised that Sather would be unable to reject Messier given their long history, but in the end Sather made the right decision for the team, perhaps at the expense of his relationship with The Captain. The Fourth Period reported that Messier might join Vigneault as an assistant, but it’d be a little surprising to see Messier agree to play second fiddle to the man that was chosen over him. Not only that, but it would be very unfair to Vigneault to have an apparent coach in waiting, beloved by the New York fanbase, looking over his shoulder. Messier could remain in his current post as special assistant to the president and general manager, but that obviously depends on how stung he feels by Sather’s decision. It’s possible that Messier could be so angry that he chooses to leave the franchise altogether. Read More→
I’m assuming the Rangers don’t have an issue with their former legend Brian Leetch and I’m assuming Leetch doesn’t hate Glen Sather for moving him out of New York to the Leafs all those years ago. So, why not get him on board and help right the wrongs of the current roster?
This is just food for thought on a lazy Sunday afternoon but other clubs have brought in specialist coaches such as the Sharks with Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson to directly deal with previous issues. The Sharks had a woeful PK (amid other things) and the new coaches helped right away. They dealt with their issues proactively.
Brian Leetch will be in Hartford next week on March 10 to be inducted into the Connecticut Hockey Hall of Fame. We all know what Leetch is and what he has done and what he has meant to this organization. Bruce Berlet has a great write up for the CT HHOF, and you can read it here.
On March 2, 2004, Ranger fans had their hearts ripped out. In the midst of another losing season, General Manager Glen Sather decided it was time to start over, and began with a fire sale that eventually led to the Rangers we see before us today. The prized piece of the fire sale was Brian Leetch, and Slats shipped him, along with the hearts of millions of Ranger fans, to Toronto for Jarkko Immonen, Maxim Kondratiev, a first round pick in 2004, and a second round pick in 2005.
The trade felt like a punch to the stomach for every single fan. For management, they got what they wanted: two legitimate prospects, and two top-60 draft picks. At the time of the trade, the Rangers got fair value for Leetch. It’s been eight years since that trade, so let’s look at what they got.
Maxim Kondratiev: The Russian defenseman’s time with the Rangers was very brief. After just 46 games with the organization, 29 with the Rangers, the Rangers shipped Kondratiev to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006 for Petr Sykora and a 2007 4th round pick. Sykora helped the Rangers reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years (seven seasons). Kondratiev now plays in the KHL.
The 4th round pick was used on Brett Bruneteau, who is no longer in hockey. Interesting note about this pick: the Rangers had acquired this pick (#108) as a conditional pick in 2005 in the Steve Rucchin trade. Essentially, the Rangers traded for this pick twice.
Jarkko Immonen: The Finnish center draws most of the attention from this deal. Not as a positive, but from a “what could have been.” Immonen dominated his first full season in the AHL (2005-2006), finishing with 70 points in 74 games. His play earned him a six game stint with the Rangers, where he scored two goals in his first two games.
Immonen’s second AHL season was again stellar, finishing with 46 points in 54 games. He played well in the NHL, finishing with six points in 14 games, bringing his totals to 3-5-8 in 22 games. However, it didn’t appear that he was a fit for the Rangers, or maybe he just didn’t want to play in the US anymore. After the 2006-2007 season, Immonen returned to Finland. Immonen is now in the KHL.
2004 1st Round Pick (Lauri Korpikoski): The Rangers wound up with the #24 pick in the draft as a result of the trade. They used this pick and a second round pick (#46 – Adam Pineault) to move up to #19, where they drafted Lauri Korpikoski. The Rangers also acquired an eighth round pick in the transaction (#247), which they used on Jonathan Paiement.
Korpikoski played fairly poor for the Rangers, and it was safe to say he did not meet expectations. He did not provide the offensive flair that made him a first round pick, and he struggled defensively as well. The Rangers gave up on him, and dealt him to Phoenix for Enver Lisin in the 2009 offseason. In Phoenix, Korpikoski has found himself a nice role as a third line player, and has started to finally chip in offensively.
Lisin played one year for the Rangers, and then left for the KHL.
2005 2nd Round Pick (Mike Sauer): The Rangers appeared to have hit the jackpot with Sauer. Sauer battled many shoulder injuries early in his career, but finally broke through and made the Rangers roster out of camp in 2010. Initially used as a rotating defenseman on the bottom pairing, injuries forced him into a full time role, where he exceeded all expectations.
Sauer now plays top-four minutes for the club –when he’s healthy– and is the real gem of this trade.
Trades for prospects and picks are generally gambles. Neither picks nor prospects are guarantees, and the general rule of thumb is to be happy if one pans out to be a solid player. The Rangers got just that in Sauer. It’s tough to call this trade a success, especially when it came from dealing Brian Leetch, but the deal was just that: A success.
With the induction of possibly the best HOF class ever yesterday, it sparked some debate on which class is better: the 2009 class of Yzerman, Hull, Leetch and Robitaille, or the 2007 class of Messier, MacInnis, Stevens and Francis. It’s a tough call, and there probably is no wrong answer here. But let’s run through the NHL regular season numbers:
- Goals: 2,348 (Yzerman-692, Hull-741, Leetch-247, Robitaille-668)
- Assists: 3,220 (Yzerman-1,063, Hull-650, Leetch-781, Robitaille-726)
- Points: 5,568 (Yzerman-1,755, Hull-1,391, Leetch-1,028, Robitaille-1,394)
- Stanley Cups: 7 (Yzerman-3, Hull-2, Leetch-1, Robitaille-1)
- Awards: 1 Hart (Hull), 2 Pearson (Yzerman, Hull), 2 Conn Smythe (Yzerman, Leetch), 1 Selke (Yzerman), 1 Masterson (Yzerman), 1 Byng (Hull), 2 Norris (Leetch), 2 Calder (Leetch, Robitaille)
- All-Star Appearances: 36 (Yzerman-10, Hull-8, Leetch-10, Robitaille-8)
- Goals: 1,779 (Messier-694, MacInnis-340, Stevens-196, Francis-549)
- Assists: 4,088 (Messier-1,193, MacInnis-934, Stevens-712, Francis-1,249)
- Points: 5,867 (Messier-1,887, MacInnis-1,274, Stevens-908, Francis-1,798)
- Stanley Cups: 12 (Messier-6, MacInnis-1, Stevens-3, Francis-2)
- Awards: 2 Harts (Messier), 3 Conn Smythes (Messier, MacInnis, Stevens), 2 Pearsons (Messier), 1 Norris (MacInnis), 1 Selke (Francis), 3 Byngs (Francis), 1 Clancy (Francis)
- All-Star Appearances: 47 (Messier-15, MacInnis-15, Stevens-13, Francis-4)
It really is a toss up. There is no wrong answer here, cases can be made for both, and these are just the raw numbers. There was much more to each of these players than just statistics, especially with Scott Stevens.
The only surprise here is that Ron Francis was only voted to the All-Star Game four times. That’s an absolute travesty.
Update 4:00pm: Actually, let’s make a poll out of this. It’s mid-page, on the right hand side.
As expected, Brian Leetch was voted into the Hall of Fame today, joining Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille as possibly the best HOF class of all time.
Leetch’s Career Stats:
- 247 goals
- 781 assists
- 1,028 points
- Two-time Norris Trophy winner (1992, 1997)
- Calder Trophy winner (1989)
- 11-time All Star
- Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1994)
- Stanley Cup winner (1994)
- Gold medal – 1996 World Cup, captain of Team USA
- Silver medal – 2002 Winter Olympics
And now add to that list, Hall of Famer.
This caps off an amazing career by #2. There’s not much else to say other than Congratulations.
Been a while since I last wrote here. Things like Hall of Fame Inductions always interest me, and I usually feel the need to ask the question posed in the title when it includes names like Yzerman, Hull, Robitaille, Leetch, Richter, Dino, etc etc etc. While it seems that the general consensus is that the first four mentioned are virtual shoe-ins, it surprises me that it is so unanimous, given the company that is nominated alongside them. For everyone else, its pretty much just a bad year to have your name on the ballot. Everyone on this list at some point in their career was either an impactful or influential player, one way or another. But when you consider that Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, and Brian Leetch will likely be the 4 players inducted, can we coronate the Hall of Fame Class of 2009 the greatest HOF class ever? The two classes of recent memory that are among the top include the 2007 class of Mark Messier, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens, and Ron Francis and the 1983 class of Ken Dryden, Bobby Hull, and Stan Mikita. I’m sure the likes of Stan Fischler might say otherwise, but those are some pretty stacked groups. Let’s see how they measure up:
Stevie Y: Three-Time Stanley Cup Champion, Captain of the Red Wings beginning at age 21, 6th on the all-time scoring list, and one of the gutsiest players of his time (played the majority of his final years with essentially no cartilage in both knees). And to this day, has scored one of my favorite goals of all time.
Luc Robitaille: Stanley Cup Champion, 8-Time All-Star, highest scoring left wing in NHL history with 668 goals. Holds most scoring records for the Los Angeles Kings, where he played the majority of his career.
Brett Hull: Two-Time Stanley Cup Champion, his 741 career goals rank him 3rd all-time overall and the highest American goal-scorer in NHL history (even though he has dual citizenship with Canada, all his international play has been for the USA). Nicknamed the Golden Brett. Scored one of the most controversial goals in the NHL history during the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Brian Leetch: Stanley Cup Champion (as if you didn’t know), only Amercian-born player to win Conn Smythe Trophy, two-time Norris Trophy recipient. Scored a still rookie-defenseman record 23 goals in his debut season with the Blueshirts. And the importance of this goal can never be overstated. PS: if any of you guys can find an isolated video of the spin-o-rama goal against Brodeur in the ’94 East Finals please post it…because that was pretty)
So that’s a pretty impressive resume if you ask me. What do you guys think? If this does turn out to be the Class of 2009, will it be considered the best-ever?
Tomorrow at 3pm, a max of four players will get the nod to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The noteables eligible for the first time: Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, and of course, my favorite Ranger of all time, Brian Leetch. Other players that are eligible, but seems to be looked over, Alex Mogilny, Dave Andreychuk, Dino Ciccarelli, Pavel Bure, Doug Gilmour, Steve Larmer, Kevin Lowe and another one of my favorites, Mike Richter.
All of the players listed above should get into the Hall of Fame. Of the ones listed, Richter is the most questionable to get into the Hall. I think the magic number is 300 wins, so he should be getting in, but it’s more of a question of when.
So with all those names up there, who gets in for 2009?
Yzerman, Hull, Leetch, Robitaille.
Brian Leetch is one of the many on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. He should be a shoe-in, as should other first timers Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Alexander Mogilny and Luc Robitaille. I don’t know who else is on the ballot, nor do I know what the maximum number of players voted in per year is. But these five players belong in the Hall, no doubt about it.
In other news, John “OH BABY” Davidson will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award is an award named after Foster Hewitt and presented by the Hockey Hall of Fame to members of the radio and television industry who make outstanding contributions to their profession and the game of hockey during their broadcasting career (source: Wikipedia).
Congrats to JD, and future congrats to Leetch, and the other soon-to-be Hall of Famers.