New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has named Brian Leetch and Brad Richards Hockey Operations Advisors. In their roles, Leetch and Richards will work with the hockey operations department in both hockey-related decisions along with off-ice player and prospect development. In addition, Leetch and Richards will assist prospects in the Rangers organization, including players with the Rangers' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, in on-ice development.
In a Hall of Fame career that spanned parts of 18 NHL seasons, Leetch registered 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 points in 1,205 games. An 11-time NHL All-Star, Leetch played parts of 17 seasons with the Rangers (1987-88 - 2003-04), recording 240 goals and 741 assists for 981 points in 1,129 games. During his tenure with the Blueshirts, Leetch established franchise records in numerous categories, including career assists, single-season assists (80; 1991-92), and career goals, assists, and points by a defenseman. In addition to being the Rangers' all-time leader in assists, Leetch ranks second on the franchise's all-time games played and points lists. He skated in 82 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Rangers, registering 28 goals and 61 assists for 89 points, and he is the franchise's all-time leader in playoff assists and playoff points.
Leetch's finest moment with the Rangers came during the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Corpus Christi, Texas, native registered 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points, along with a plus-19 rating in 23 games to help the Rangers win the Stanley Cup. Leetch was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1994, becoming the first American-born player, as well as the first player who was not Canadian-born, to receive the award. He led all players in assists, points, and plus/minus rating during the playoffs, and his 11 goals and 34 points were the second-most a defenseman has tallied in one playoff year in NHL history (Paul Coffey - 12 goals and 37 points in 1985 with Edmonton). In addition, Leetch's five goals and 11 points in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994 are tied for the most any defenseman has recorded in a single Stanley Cup Finals series in NHL history.
Leetch received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 1988-89, and he established an NHL record for goals by a rookie defenseman with 23 during the season. Leetch was also a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's Best Defenseman (1991-92 and 1996-97). Leetch registered 102 points (22 goals, 80 assists) during the 1991-92 season, becoming the fifth defenseman in NHL history to register at least 100 points in a season (along with Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, Paul Coffey, and Al MacInnis). He was named to either the NHL's First All-Star Team or Second All-Star Team five times over a seven-season span from 1990-91 to 1996-97 (First Team NHL All-Star in 1991-92 and 1996-97; Second Team NHL All-Star in 1990-91, 1993-94, and 1995-96). Internationally, Leetch represented the United States in the Winter Olympics three times (1988, 1998, and 2002), and he earned a silver medal in 2002. In addition, Leetch helped the United States win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and he served as the team's captain during the tournament. Leetch was named the 23rd captain in Rangers history on October 3, 1997, and he served as the team's captain for three seasons (1997-98 - 1999-00). Leetch was the first American-born captain in franchise history, as well as the first captain who was not Canadian-born.
Leetch also received several awards and honors following the conclusion of his playing career. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2017, he was named one of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players as part of the league's 100th Anniversary. Leetch received the Lester Patrick Trophy in recognition of his contributions and outstanding service to hockey in the United States in 2007. On January 24, 2008, Leetch received the highest honor that can be bestowed on a Rangers player, as the Blueshirts retired his No. 2 in a pre-game ceremony. At the time, Leetch was the fifth player - and first defenseman - in Rangers history to have his number retired by the organization.
Richards, 37, rejoins the Rangers organization in a front office role after completing his NHL career as a player in 2015-16. He played 15 seasons in the NHL with Tampa Bay, Dallas, the Rangers, Chicago, and Detroit, registering 298 goals and 634 assists for 932 points in 1,126 career games. In addition, Richards tallied 105 points (37 goals and 68 assists) in 146 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests. Richards' teams posted an 8-0 record in Game 7 of a playoff series when he was in the lineup, and he is tied with Glenn Anderson, Ray Bourque, and Carl Hagelin for the most wins in Game 7 of a playoff series in NHL history. Of the four players, he is the only one whose team never lost in Game 7 of a playoff series. Richards notched seven points (two goals, five assists) in his eight career appearances in Game 7.
Richards won the Stanley Cup twice in his career (2003-04 with Tampa Bay and 2014-15 with Chicago), and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2004. Richards recorded 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 23 games with Tampa Bay in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and he led all skaters in points, game-winning goals (seven), power play goals (seven), and power play points (12) during the playoffs. Richards' seven game-winning goals in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs are the most any player has tallied in one playoff year in NHL history.
An NHL All-Star during the 2010-11 season, Richards ranked 10th or higher in the NHL in points in three different seasons in his career. He received the Lady Byng Trophy during the 2003-04 season for being the NHL player who "best combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability." In 2000-01, Richards was named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team and was the runner-up for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year to Evgeni Nabokov, as he led all NHL rookies in goals (21), assists (41), and points (62) during the season. He skated in all of his team's 82 regular season games during a season seven times in his NHL career, and he played at least 80 games in nine different seasons.
Richards played three seasons with the Rangers (2011-12 - 2013-14) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 2, 2011. In 210 regular season games with the Blueshirts, Richards tallied 56 goals and 95 assists for 151 points. Over his three seasons with the Rangers, he tied for the team lead in goals, and ranked second on the team in games played, assists, and points. Richards also served as an alternate captain in each of his three seasons in New York. In 2011-12, Richards tied a single-season franchise record - and established a career-high - by registering nine game-winning goals.
Richards skated in 55 Stanley Cup Playoff games during his tenure with the Rangers, registering 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points. He helped the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win at least one playoff series in each of his three seasons with the team, and he also helped the Blueshirts advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. The Rangers posted a 5-0 record in Game 7 of a playoff series during Richards' three seasons with the team, and Richards registered the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Second Round against Pittsburgh in 2014.
Internationally, the Murray Harbour, Prince Edward Island, native represented Canada in several tournaments. Richards helped Canada win the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and he earned a bronze medal while representing Canada at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championship. In addition, he registered a team-high, four points (two goals, two assists) in six games while representing Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Richards played three seasons of junior hockey with Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In his final season of junior hockey in 1999-00, Richards received numerous individual awards and honors while helping Rimouski win the QMJHL Championship and the Memorial Cup. Richards, who registered 186 points (71 goals, 115 assists) during the season, led the QMJHL and all three Canadian Major Junior Leagues in points, was named the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Player of the Year, the QMJHL Offensive Player of the Year, the QMJHL Playoffs Most Valuable Player, and the Most Valuable Player of the Memorial Cup Tournament.