New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the organization will retire jersey No. 2 in honor of Rangers great Brian Leetch in an on-ice ceremony prior to the Rangers -- Atlanta Thrashers game on Thursday, January 24, 2008.
"When we talk about what it means to be a New York Ranger, Brian Leetch is the player who exemplifies that model," stated Sather. "He is simply the greatest defenseman in the history of the franchise and gave the same effort when it came to helping the community off the ice. There is no higher honor to grant Brian then to have his number raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden to join the other Garden legends."
|Brian Leetch, who holds every major scoring record for Rangers defensemen, will see his No. 2 go to the rafters on Jan. 24, 2008 -- just under 20 years after his Feb. 29, 1988, NHL debut. |
Leetch, who retired from professional hockey after a memorable 18-year career, established himself as the most prolific defenseman to don the Rangers sweater. He holds the franchise record with 741 career assists and ranks second in career points (981) and games played (1,129). Leetch also holds the Rangers record for goals by a defenseman, with 240.
"I appreciate that the New York Rangers have extended the honor of raising my jersey to the Madison Square Garden rafters alongside team icons Rod, Eddie, Mike, and Mark," Leetch said. "New York City, the Garden and Rangers fans hold a special place in my heart and have supplied me with a lifetime of extraordinary memories. This night will be a very special one for me and my family and I look forward to returning to Madison Square Garden and being able to call it home."
Leetch appeared in 1,205 career games with the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins, registering 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 points, along with 571 penalty minutes. Leetch was selected to participate in eleven NHL All-Star games (1990-1998 and 2001-2002) and was honored with the Norris Trophy twice (1992 and 1997), the Conn Smythe Trophy (1994) and the Calder Trophy (1989).
Leetch was a catalyst during the Rangers' run to the 1994 Stanley Cup Championship, in which he led the NHL with 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points (second highest total by a defenseman in playoff history) in 23 matches and became first American born player to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy. The three-time Olympian helped Team USA capture a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics while being named to the All-Tournament Team.
The native of Corpus Christi, Texas will join Rod Gilbert (7), Eddie Giacomin (1), Mike Richter (35) and Mark Messier (11) as the only Rangers players to have their jersey numbers retired. Gilbert's No. 7 was first to ascend to the Garden rafters on Oct. 14, 1979; Giacomin's No. 1 on March 15, 1989; Richter's No. 35 on February 4, 2004; and most recently Messier's No. 11 on January 12, 2006.
In addition, Leetch's jersey number will be among nine New York Knickerbockers that have been remembered in the ceiling of The World's Most Famous Arena
. Former Knicks players Walt Frazier (10), Dick Barnett (12), Earl Monroe (15), Dick McGuire (15), Willis Reed (19), Dave DeBusschere (22), Bill Bradley (24) and most recently Patrick Ewing (33) have all had the numbers honored by the team, along with Hall-of-Fame coach Red Holzman (613).
Due to high season subscription renewals for the upcoming season, there will be no individual tickets available for this game.