When the New York Rangers drafted Brian Leetch in 1986 with their first round pick (9th overall), all anyone could expect from the skinny defenseman was some smoothing skating transitions through the neutral zone and the occasional offense.
What fans received was much more.
Following one season at Boston College and a year with the U.S.
National Team, Leetch got the call to play his first NHL game in 1988. From that moment on, he became a staple on the New York Rangers' blueline from the minute he stepped on the ice as a Ranger.
In 17 games that season, Leetch rattled off 14 points and the rest, as they say, is history.
The following year, in 68 games, Leetch scored 71 points en route to the Calder Trophy as top rookie in the NHL.
No Rangers' defenseman has been able to replicate what Leetch did on the ice. His tremendous resolve and patience was matched by his silky skating and ability to see the ice like few defensemen ever have.
The offensive flair that Leetch exhibited in his career was unique in that he could just as easily thread a pass through a seemingly non-existent lane as stickhandle around a player and place a wrist shot to the high corner.
There was nothing that Leetch couldn't do.
And yet a player of his caliber did not have the bravado that matched his play. Unlike a Mark Messier, Leetch did not seek the limelight. He never shied away from a question, but did not seek to see his name in the paper or picture in a memorabilia store.
Brian Leetch wanted to play hockey. And he wanted to play it well.
But this small-town boy was a big hit in the biggest city and he used it to other's advantage, rather than his own.
His work with the Ronald McDonald House was a tremendous success, helping kids throughout the country and bringing prominence to an important charity.
Tonight, Leetch takes his final step as a Rangers defenseman and his first step as a Rangers Hall of Fame defenseman.
For more on Leetch's introduction, check out our upcoming November issue.
In other news, Calgary Flames' forward Curtis Glencross has been suspended three games for his blindside hit on Chris Drury in the opening minutes of Saturday's game.
Drury was concussed on the play and may miss Thursday's home game, though it is not definite.
Speaking of injuries, according to various media outlets, Bradon Dubinsky is expected to miss at least a month due to a broken hand. The Rangers are expected to move Vinny Prospal back to center and promote Artem Anisimov to fill the third line role.
Should Drury miss any time, a forward could be summoned from Hartford.