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To Leetch, his younger brother continues to inspire

Friday, 04.24.2009 / 9:35 AM / Hockey's Finest Presented by Army

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

Brian Leetch patrolled the New York Rangers' blue line for 17 seasons, but to Leetch, his brother Eric has done the most important patrolling as a captain in the U.S. Army.

"My brother's five years younger than me," Brian said. "I was always the big brother growing up. He was interested in getting to the military, even in high school. He was focused on trying to reach his goals and he got into West Point and he was in the class of 1995."

Much like a hockey player coming through the ranks, Eric worked his way up the military ranks over the years. 

"He came out (of the United States Military Academy at West Point) a second lieutenant and went to Ranger school to get his Ranger patch," Brian said. "He became a Green Beret and a captain of Special Forces down in Fort Bragg (North Carolina) and he was stationed there for five years."

After serving on the battlefield in Afghanistan, Eric decided to minister to his fellow soldiers, becoming an army chaplain.

"He was in Afghanistan and after five years in Fort Bragg, he decided that he'd wanted to become an army chaplain," Brian said. "That was something that he really believes in and I really respect him for his views and for his ability to help people. Once it was as a leader with a gun. Now he's without a gun and believes he can help even more people in his role as a chaplain."   

While Brian advanced his hockey career, he couldn't help but be impressed with his brother's dedication to his country and his ability to stay strong and keep his identity. 

"The biggest thing that I'm impressed with by my brother when I see him now is that he hasn't changed that much as a person," Leetch said. "He's gone through so many different experiences with things that I could never relate to, but yet he's kept his values and his beliefs. He's matured as a person like I have."

Brian admires Eric's selfless attitude, knowing his brother is looking to the greater good.

"I'm very proud that my brother's chosen this path and he's doing what he believes is right and what he was meant to do," Leetch said. "He's certainly helping people in a way that the majority of us are not. It's not just for themselves, they are doing it for all of us. I couldn't be more proud."

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com


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