For an athlete in professional sports, longevity is the result of many aspects of a player’s approach to the game. Skill, dedication, preparation, training, performance and luck also have a lot to do with it. When you think of longevity in Rangers history, you think of the likes of Harry Howell, Rod Gilbert and Jean Ratelle, but as the 2002-03 season approaches, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter find themselves in similar company.
Leetch and Richter currently sit as the two longest tenured teammates in the National Hockey League today as they enter their 14th consecutive full season on Broadway. The two Rangers have one full season on Washington’s Peter Bondra and Calle Johansson (13th full season - since 1990-91) and Detroit’s Steve Yzerman and Sergei Fedorov (13th full season - since 1990-91).
Also, by virtue of Richter's playoff appearance with the Blueshirts in 1989, he and Leetch are tied for seventh all-time in consecutive seasons of playing at least one game for the same team as teammates.
The duo have not only been career-long teammates in the NHL, but on the international stage as well, representing the United States in many tournaments worldwide: Winter Olympics (1988 - Albertville, France; 1998 - Nagano, Japan; 2002 - Salt Lake City, Utah); World Junior Championships (1985 - Finland, 1986 - Canada); World Hockey Championships (1987 - Vienna, Austria); World Cup of Hockey (1996). _____________________
CONSECUTIVE SEASONS PLAYING AT LEAST ONE GAME FOR THE SAME TEAM (AS TEAMMATES) (Includes playoffs - i.e. Richter in 1988-89)
* Alex Delvecchio; Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) - 21 seasons (1950-1970) * Tim Horton; George Armstrong (Toronto Maple Leafs) - 19 seasons (1951-1969) * Henri Richard; Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadiens) - 16 seasons (1955-1970) * Rod Gilbert; Jean Ratelle (New York Rangers) - 16 seasons (1960-1975) * Marcel Pronovost; Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) - 16 seasons (1949-1964) * Bob Gainey; Larry Robinson (Montreal Canadiens) - 16 seasons (1973-1988) * Brian Leetch; Mike Richter (New York Rangers) - 15 seasons (1988-2002)* * Claude Provost; Jean Beliveau; Henri Richard (Montreal Canadiens) - 15 seasons (1955-1969) * Ralph Backstrom; Jean Beliveau (Montreal Canadiens) - 15 seasons (1956-1970) * Bobby Hull; Eric Nesterenko (Chicago Blackhawks) - 15 seasons (1957-1971) * Denis Potvin; Billy Smith (New York Islanders) - 15 seasons (1973-1987) * Marcel Pronovost; Alex Delvecchio (Detroit Red Wings) - 15 seasons (1950-1964)