Brian Leetch Question.

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Roger's Pancreas*, Mar 29, 2006.

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  1. I've never had the privledge of seeing Brian Leetch in his prime so I don't have an idea of just how dominating he was. Today however, it's pretty obvious that he's just a shadow of his former self because he just doesn't have that stellar defensive play that a hall of fame defenseman should have. Did Leetch always have some defensive lapses which could be ignored because of his offensive game or was he like Lidstrom and Stevens?
     
  2. Trottier

    Trottier Very Random

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    I had the privilege of watching Brian Leetch up close and frequently from the time he arrived in the NHL through the late 90s, as I lived in Manhattan during that time, and had season tickets to NYR. (I'm not an NYR fan, but a hockey fan, and MSG was a short cab or subway ride.)

    Leetch was as talented an offensive dman as there was in the game from the tail end of the 80s through much of the 90s, especially the first half of that decade. A GREAT passer, he was also one of the dwindling few dmen who could take the puck and rush it from deep in his zone into the offensive end. A great PP QB, with an uncanny ability to keep the puck in on the line. His Calder and Norris Trophies are testament to it.

    Up until 1994, he was average to slightly above average in his own zone. Mike Keenan's one season in NY changed that, considerably. He challenged Leetch (even benching him for a bit during a playoff game vs. NJD) to become a complete player, a more aggressive defenseman. By "aggressive," I do not necessarily mean a physical monster, but more assertive in his own end. Keenan believed that Leetch had to raise his level play to that complete elite level in order for NYR to succeed. Leetch did, and NYR won a Stanley Cup, with #2 winning the Conn Smyth.

    Post-1994, injuries started accumulating and taking their toll on Leetch and his overall game, clearly. The timing of your post is interesting - just last night I was commenting to a friend that it is sad to see Brian in what is now clearly the twilight of his career. His game is a mere shell of what it once was, and unfortunately, declined a bit sooner than it did for other great dmen of this era, i.e., Bourque, Stevens, Chelios. I would not be surprised if he calls it a career after this season, though as a fan, it would be sad to see the end of a special career.

    To answer your question directly, no, Leetch was never going to be confused with Scott Stevens (nor Lidstrom for that matter) defensively. But he never a slouch either, by no means, in his own end.

    And he is headed to the Hall of Fame, without a doubt, upon his retirement.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2006
  3. Badger Bob

    Badger Bob Registered User

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    If memory serves, he was an important and effective contributor to Team USA in the '96 Cup. Wasn't he, in fact, the captain?
     
  4. Leetch was not superb defensively, but he was not a handicap either. His defense was never on par with a Stevens or Lidstrom, but not many players are. On the plus side, Leetch was an elite offensive defenseman, as his 1,000-plus career points, 34 playoff points in '94, and 102 points in '91 will attest to.

    The post from Trottier was pretty on the mark and quite in-depth. I will simply leave it at: Leetch wasn't as good offensively as Paul Coffey, but he wasn't as bad defensively as Paul Coffey.
     
  5. SML

    SML Registered User

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    Leetch in the 94 playoffs was simply unbelieveable. You couldn't stop him when he got the puck, you couldn't get through him when you had it. He was controlling games the way people used to talk about Orr doing, but I never saw. The Rangers wasted his talent. It's a shame they struggled during so much of Brian's career, if he played for a winning team like the Red Wings for the last 7 years of his career, he would have been able to do so much more. One of my all time favorites.
     
  6. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason Registered User

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    As others have noted, Leetch was excellent as an o-minded defenseman and decent in his own end. Spending a couple of years paired with Beukeboom helped his game take shape, especially during the 94 Cup run.

    Nice avatar, btw. Who is it?
     
  7. Evil Sather

    Evil Sather YOU KILL THE JOE

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    Hmm... time for my monthly post...

    Leetch is without question the best guy I've ever seen at keeping the puck in at the blueline. Just unbelievable. A perennial top 5 defenseman for a decade. Incredible passer and might have been the best skating defenseman since Coffey. Superb PP quarterback. Had an absolute laser up until I think '92 when he had a shoulder injury that robbed his shot of a lot its power, it was still good enough to keep him in double digit goals every full year of his career, including hitting 20 goals 5 times. The last defenseman to lead his team in scoring (79 pts. in 2001).

    He was never Stevens or Chelios, and at his peak I would say he was above average defensively, one of the last few who could throw a great hipcheck. I'd disagree on Keenan benching him in the playoffs as being a catalyst, Leetch was unconcious that whole playoff series, but he did yell at him he was "no *** Chelios" a lot, so who knows. It's hard to say his defensive proficiency declined seriously as he played 26-29 minutes a night for around 5 years for a Rangers squad with pretty much no defense, no system, no forwards coming back and helping, or anything like that -- anyone is going to look bad in that situation. Trust me, it was so bad that when Bryan Trottier got here and somewhat instituted "3rd man high", it was considered a remarkable achievement by the MSG announcers, commented on for about 20 games. Yeah, things were that bad. When paired with a decent defenseman (Vlad Malakhov for half a year), he shined. When forced to cover up for KEVIN HATCHER (vomit) and Bryan Berard (shakes), yeah, things suffered, but he just wasnt that shut down type to make up for those mistakes.

    Surefire HOF'er, top 3 or 4 defenseman of his generation, top 15 all time (and maybe 10-11 depending on what you value). Blessed to watch him.
     
  8. WheresBarnaby

    WheresBarnaby Registered User

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    :eek: Having watched every Ranger game during Leetch's golden years I gotta disagree. He WAS the Rangers defense. To say he was no Stevens or Chelios I think is inacurate, he was right there with em. If I'm in net and a 2 on 1 breaks out my way, there is NO ONE I'd rather have back on D. While were at let's not forget those amazing end to end rushes.

    Leetch
    GP-1205 G-247 A-781 PTS-1028 +25
    Chelios
    GP-1476 G-182 A-743 PTS-925 +329
    Stevens
    GP-874 G-329 A-397 PTS-726 -103

    Before we start getting crazy over the +/-'s consider what team Chelios is on.
     
  9. WheresBarnaby

    WheresBarnaby Registered User

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    1096 189 617 806 298
    Lidstrom
     
  10. HVPOLARBEARS19

    HVPOLARBEARS19 Registered User

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    Are you sure that's for Scott Stevens? I think you got Kevin Stevens stats there lol.

    Scott Stevens numbers are...
    GP-1635 G-96 A-712 P-908
     
  11. V-2 Schneider

    V-2 Schneider Registered User

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    He made a lot of defensive mistakes,many more than Coffey and Bourque.When he pinched well, he was the best in the league on a turnover,but some nights, played no better than Mathieu Schneider having a brain cramp.
     
  12. WheresBarnaby

    WheresBarnaby Registered User

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    Yeah I did, lol sorry guys :shakehead
     

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