New York Rangers President, General Manager and Head Coach Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent defenseman Brian Leetch. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Brian represents everything it means to be a New York Ranger: class, pride, and professionalism," said Sather. "He is among the elite defensemen in the history of the National Hockey League and has been a cornerstone of this franchise for several years. We are extremely excited to have him remain in a Rangers sweater."
Leetch, 35, appeared in 51 matches for the Rangers last season, registering 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points, along with 20 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the team in scoring among defensemen with 30 points and finished first on the team and was ninth in the NHL in average time on ice (26:05). Leetch skated in his 1,066th Rangers/NHL match on March 22 at Philadelphia, passing Rod Gilbert for second place on the Rangers' all-time games played list. He also tallied his franchise-high seventh career overtime winning goal on November 7 vs. Calgary and is tied for the NHL's all-time lead in overtime goals by a defenseman.
Leetch missed 31 matches due to a bruised left ankle suffered against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 3. He registered 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in 23 matches after returning from the ankle injury on February 14 vs. Pittsburgh. In addition, Leetch was voted as the team's most valuable player for the third time in five years by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, captured the Player's Player Award for the third consecutive year and the Ceil Saidel Memorial Award for the second straight season for dedication to the organization on and off the ice.
The 6-0, 185-pound defenseman has spent his entire 16-year NHL career with New York, collecting 227 goals and 718 assists for 945 points, along with 501 penalty minutes in 1,072 career matches. Leetch ranks as the Rangers' all-time leader among defensemen in goals (227), assists (718) and points (945). He also ranks among the NHL leaders among defensemen in goals, assists and points (among active players and on the all-time list): goals: (227, 3rd active, tied for 9th all-time); assists: (718, tied for 3rd active, 8th all-time); points: (945, 3rd active, 8th all-time).
Leetch was a member of the Rangers Stanley Cup championship club in 1994, where he registered 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 23 games en route to being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He holds or shares 35 Rangers records (20 regular season, 15 playoffs) and ranks among the all-time club leaders in games played (2nd - 1,072), goals (tied for 9th - 227), assists (1st - 718), points (2nd - 945) and playoff scoring (1st - 89 points). Leetch was also selected to represent the Rangers in 11 NHL All-Star contests and has been voted a First Team All-Star on two occasions (1992, 1997) and a Second Team All-Star on three occasions (1991, 1994, 1996).
Internationally, Leetch was a member of Team USA at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the 2002 Olympic Games, he helped the United States capture a silver medal and was named to the All-Tournament Team after registering five assists in six games. Leetch also represented the United States at the 1985, 1986 and 1987 World Junior Championships, the 1989 World Championships, the 1991 Canada Cup and captained Team USA to the 1996 World Cup of Hockey title. In June of 1997, he was one of 12 players named to the all-time USA Hockey Team.
The two-time Norris Trophy winner does extensive charity work in the New York metropolitan area. He serves as a celebrity chairman for The Ronald McDonald House of New York, in which his efforts have helped raise nearly $3.0 million over the past nine years at the Rangers annual "Skate With The Greats" event. Leetch also has contributed greatly to the Leukemia Society of America. He has been recognized on many occasions for his generous contributions to the community, as noted by his 1994 "Crumb Bum" Award for service to children in the metropolitan area, along with the 2002 and 2003 Ceil Seidel Memorial Award for his service both on and off the ice.
The native of Corpus Christie, Texas was originally drafted by the Rangers in the first round, ninth overall, in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. Leetch was traded to the Edmonton Oilers, in exchange for goaltender Jussi Markkanen and a 2004 fourth round draft choice on June 30, 2003.