A sit down with Brian Leetch


In the absence of my ill colleague, the King of the Rumpled Golf Shirt, I tried to hop online from 30 Rock, where Brian Leetch joined the media in anticipation of tomorrow night’s ceremony. Would you believe there was NO wireless signal? Maybe it’s just me, but that was an upset along the lines of USA-USSR…

OK, I’m exaggerating. Still, it was a shame I couldn’t check in to set the scene for everyone. There were a multitude of former Rangers on hand at La Cucina, a restaurant near the Rockefeller Center skating rink. They included: Messier, Richter, Graves, Jeff Beukeboom, Tie Domi, Darren Langdon, Stephane Matteau, and others. Messier looked like a human block of granite. Carp told me one player said, “Wow, Messier really let himself go.” That might’ve been the line of the afternoon.

Anyway, there were lots of great stories told by all, but, to me at least, the two most interesting nuggets were these:

1. Adam Graves said repeatedly that Leetch was the toughest player he ever played with. “Make no mistake, he is quiet and reserved and a gentleman, but he was as mentally tough and competitive of a guy as I played with.”

(No joke: a few minutes after he said it, Graves literally adjusted a false tooth by removing it, then reinserting it in his mouth…You gotta love hockey players.)

2. Leetch, who was always quiet, unassuming and non-controversial, said he was still disappointed and bitter because of how he departed. He mentioned Glen Sather by name.

I won’t go into it more because Carp has the quote on his blog. “You can go there to see Leetch’s comments and check out Carpie’s thoughts.”:http://carp.lohudblogs.com He covered the team for a long time and he shares some of his thoughts on the afternoon.

Sammy should be back tomorrow, so I bid you adieu.

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  1. I didn’t know that Leetch had such strong feelings about being traded. I can understand it, especially since it seems like he was lied to. That’s sad, and he probably could have been part of the solution, and probably would have been a better role model and captain than Jagr. Leetch surely would have been the captain, since he had been before and was the alternate when Messier was out. But then maybe Jagr would not have played as well after the lockout, not being the focus of the team. Ya never know! I do know Pöck would probably not have played as much as he did, though.

  2. Leetch is my favorite Ranger of all time. I grew up watching him. Unfortunately the first game I remember Leetch is the one where he broke his ankle.

    I don’t blame Leetch for harboring bad feelings about Sather. He was our franchise defenseman, was traded on his birthday, and was lied to. What a way to treat the guy who until that point had played his entire career for the Rangers.
    Sather traded away Leetch for, get this Maxim Kondratiev and Jarkko Immonen, a 1st rounder in 04 and a 2nd rounder in 05. Neither Kondratiev or Immonen did much as far a I know.
    In 04 we drafted Al Montoya and Lauri Korpikoski though I’m not sure which was the 1st rounder from the Leafs.
    And in 05 the Rangers drafted in the 2nd round Michael Sauer.
    I guess we have yet to see if the trade was actually worth it.
    In my mind, Leetch is one of the best offensive defensemen I have ever seen, and certainly is a Ranger’s Great. He gave his all to this organization, and deserved to finish his career as a New York Ranger. It would have been nice to see an organization honor a player’s dedication to the team and the city of New York by letting him go out as a Ranger. It just proves there is no loyalty to players in New York and probably nowhere. Even Messier was sent packing. To the Brass its all about the bottom line.
    The least thing this Ranger organization can do is retire his number.
    To #2

  3. The 2nd rounder we got back is the only guy still left from the trade. Michael Sauer.

    Going to the game tonight…PUMPED!

    Some of you may have heard this story…it’s a classic.

    When Phil Esposito was still in Boston, Don Cherry was the coach. Bobby Orr and Espo were roommates on the road. So one night Cherry walks into their room and tells Espo that he’s been traded. Espo replies “If you tell me it’s to the Rangers, I’m going to jump out the window”. Cherry says: “Bobby, open the window”.

    Thought I’d share.

  4. pavel – It was Renney who called Leetch to offer the spot back. Toots only got to play with Leetch for a handful of games before the trade. Could you imagine if some of these guys had him as a mentor out there….as opposed to the lovable Struds?

  5. They better not mention mention Glen Sathers name tonight during the ceremony because he will get booed out of the building if they do.

  6. Sather and Dolan will be booed out of the building.
    I never understood why JD was booed during the Mess. retirement night.

    Beer Me, good post about what the D would have looked like had Leetch mentored them. Leetch always loved the Rangers, unfortunately for the organization the feeling was not mutual with the “suits”
    Screw the Suits! Screw Sather and SCREW DOLAN!
    Yeah!! (little Howard Dean)

  7. After news of the trade, I remember a news interview given by his wife in which she expressed both her and Leetch’s disappointment. Basically she said that Leetch would’ve agreed to almost anything to finish his career as a Ranger. (Read between the lines: shown the door with nary a second thought and should’ve been shown more respect by management as how the whole breaking-of-the-trade-news transpired.) That interview had always stuck with me. I don’t think its very often the wife comes out and speak openly and pretty candidly about the emotional impact of trade transactions. Usually it the standard, “We’re disappointed, but excited…YAY!” spiel. Without a doubt, Leetch (and Mrs. Leetch) was 110% purely disappointed.

  8. graves9…The imposter who showed up at yesterday’s press conference wearing the Stephane Matteau costume!

    Seriously though, I spelled the name off the top of my head because I was in a rush to meet deadline. No excuse, but obviously I made a mistake…it’s been corrected.

  9. Staal – we got Korpokoski in the Leetch deal not Montoya as you said you were not sure. so in the orgamization we still have korpikoski and sauer.

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