Timing was everything for Brian Leetch to return to the Rangers organization as a Hockey Operations Advisor.
"For a number of years, Jeff Gorton and Adam Graves and guys that I know, John Rosasco and a lot of people I'm friends with within the organization have always reached out and said whenever you're interested we'd like to talk to you for some kind of role in the organization," the Hall of Famer told reporters after he took part in the team's prospect practice before the Traverse City Tournament.
At the time, Leetch preferred being at home more to spend time with his children. Now, though, as his children have gotten older, the time is right for Leetch to return to the team he played with for parts of 17 seasons.
"I just thought it might be a good time to just learn a little bit more about the players in the organization, the young guys, who is going to be in Hartford [and] who the prospects are," Leetch said.
Leetch said there was no rigid plan for him under the role - which was also given to former Blueshirt Brad Richards - leaving him to find his niche and help the organization any way he can.
The immediate plan had Leetch taking part in Thursday's practice and traveling to the development tournament that runs Friday through Tuesday. From then, the 49-year-old will remain in New York during the early parts of training camp, and return to the Big Apple and Hartford throughout the year.
"[The Rangers] have been pretty good at saying find something that interests you in a certain role and we'll talk more about it as it goes," he said. "It's my job to kind of get up to speed here in the organization and with the players they currently have."
While he's been away from the Rangers for more than a decade, he's never been too far thanks to friendships he forged over the years dating back to his arrival on Broadway during the 1987-88 season.
"The Rangers have always been close to [me]," he said. "A lot of us grew up together. I was on the team as a 19, 20-year-old. A lot of the people that are still here were around when I was starting and they were starting, so it was a lot of friendship to go with their job in the organization. We'd keep in contact on a regular basis anyway, so it wasn't like I reached out and they did something or they came to me."
Video: Leetch On New Advisory Role with Rangers
Leetch has seen plenty of friends and contemporaries from his playing days land jobs in management positions, whether it be at the team or League level. He said he'd often watch games on television and see friends in the business, which made him feel more a part of it.
The 1994 Conn Smythe winner said that he believes that while it isn't a prerequisite to a management or coaching position, being a former player can afford him valuable insight with his new role.
"I think if you like the game and you're knowledgeable about it, you don't have to have played it," Leetch said. "But I do think it's a reminder - former players know what players are going through. They know the fatigue or when a player should be going harder or they shouldn't. Maybe little things like that, but if you're good at what you do, it doesn't have a huge plus or minus."
Leetch said now his first goal is to get up to speed on the organization he grew up in so he can contribute in a new way off the ice.
"It's my job to learn as much as I can about the organization, about the players and then if there's an opportunity to give my opinion and to help some players along the way, that'll be great."