Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rangers vs. Thrashers Preview: Leetch Night

Tonight the New York Rangers (23-21-6) will host the Atlanta Thrashers (23-25-3) at MSG on Brian Leetch Night. The Rangers will retire Leetch's jersey at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, when they host the Atlanta Thrashers for the second consecutive game in each club's final contest before the All-Star break. Leetch spent the first 16-plus seasons of his 18-year NHL career with the Rangers, and ranks second in franchise history with 1,129 games played, first with 741 assists, second with 981 points, and first among defensemen in goals (240) and points (981). His No. 2 will join Mark Messier's No. 11 and Mike Richter's No. 35 in the rafters - completing the trio most responsible for ending the Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. The Rangers cruised to a 4-0 victory Tuesday after Atlanta leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk was ejected late in the first period for driving Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival into the boards from behind. The Thrashers won't be getting Kovalchuk back for the rematch. The sixth-year winger was suspended for one game without pay for the hit on Rozsival, who was cut and stayed down for a few minutes, but returned later in the game. For a full preview go to Yahoo! Sports.

...since this game is more about Brain Leetch than the Rangers, I'm going to hold off on my opinions and give some of Leetch's accomplishments:

- 981 career points in 1,129 career games from Feb. 29, 1988, to March 2, 2004
- Holder of more than 40 Rangers Team Records
- Six-time Rangers MVP
- 11-Time NHL All-Star
- Three-time U.S. Olympian
- Captain of 1996 U.S. World Cup champions
- Two-time Norris Trophy winner as NHL's best defenseman
- 1988-89 NHL Rookie of Year
- 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP

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