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Concern, service to others bonds the Leetch siblings

by John McGourty /

"He's become an Army chaplain now. He's a man of strong faith and family values. I couldn't be more proud of him as a man." -- Brian Leetch on his brother, Eric Leetch

Great trees have great roots and that, as much as anything, explains Brian Leetch's success as a hockey player, and as a husband and a father.

His father was a top American hockey player for Boston College in the early 1960s, a time when Americans didn't have realistic expectations of going on to the almost all Canadian National Hockey League. Jack Leetch managed a hockey rink in western Connecticut during Brian's youth-hockey days and was able to give his son plenty of ice time and high-level instruction.

But Brian said his father never set goals, like the NHL, for him, telling him mostly to have fun at hockey or do something else he liked. His mother had just as much or more of an influence on the way Brian conducted himself and chased his dream.

"My mom, Jan, is the one who has kept our family together," Leetch said. "We have a lot of quiet personalities and it's my mom who is always calling and asking questions and giving us pats on the back. I might not talk to my brother or sister for a month, but Mom knows everything that's going on and that's how I usually learn what's up.

"She's a warm, loving person and she passed on to her kids the importance of communication and family. She was the one who did it all the years that my dad was working and sometimes traveling a lot. It's important to have that kind of foundation. My wife, Mary Beth and I have three kids, Jack, 9, Riley, 6, and Sean, 4, and we're trying to be the same kind of supportive parents."

Leetch was told that his parents must be very proud of this significant honor he's receiving, induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"If you asked them, they would tell you that they are equally proud of my brother, Eric, in the Special Forces, and my sister, Beth, a police officer in Connecticut."

Eric served three tours of duty in Afghanistan in this decade and then turned down a promotion to major to become an Army chaplain. Brian said he's been able to carry on with his life without too much worry about his brother's safety in a war zone.

"Not really, because I couldn't be more proud of him as a person and the decisions he's made in his life," Brian Leetch said. "He's become an Army chaplain now. He's a man of strong faith and family values. I couldn't be more proud of him as a man."

He said he has the same confidence in his sister, despite the dangers inherent in police work.

"I always shake my head when I think about her being a police officer," Leetch said. "She's a detective now in Connecticut. But then I see her and she's a strong person and she can take care of herself."

The common theme among the three Leetch children is service to others. That might seem like a stretch, given that hockey is not as dangerous as a career in the military or as a police officer but you could see it in his answer when he was asked if his success was based on his competitiveness.

"I didn't look at it as my competitiveness, but rather my responsibility to my teammates," Leetch said. "I got a lot of ice time and I played in important situations so I had a sense of responsibility to not let my teammates down."
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