Rangers Bring Back Leetch & Richards In New Roles

In this age of specialization in hockey, the Rangers under General Manager Jeff Gorton have been front and center at the apex.

The Blueshirts boss underlined the point on Tuesday by hiring legendary Ranger Brian Leetch and former Blueshirts center Brad Richards, to further fortify the franchise.

Taking on roles as Hockey Operations Advisors, their duties will encompass a host of undertakings both on and off the ice. When I asked Gorton precisely why Leetch and Richards were made the latest additions, he pointed out that their total wisdom is an asset.

“The way the game is played today, it’s important to add such outstanding players who have played for and know our franchise so well,” Gorton explained.

“We’re talking about players who have demonstrated that they’re winners and know how to conduct themselves the right way.”

Such potential stars as defensemen Brady Skjei and Anthony DeAngelo, as well as forwards Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich, would be apt pupils for the new mentors.

“We have young players who can learn a lot from Brian and Brad,” added Gorton. “Then again, me too.”

The newest staffers will work with the team’s hockey operations department in hockey-related decisions along with off-ice player and prospect development.

Exhibit A will be the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan which begins on Friday, September 9.

“Brian (Leetch) will be going to Traverse City,” Gorton went on, “and Brad (Richards) will join us when we come back.

“Between the two of them, we’ll be adding a lot of (cerebral) value to what we already have lined up for training camp.”

Leetch’s five-star resume has made him a household name among Rangers fans.

In a Hall of Fame career that spanned parts of 18 NHL seasons, Leetch registered 247 goals and 781 assists for 1,028 points in 1,205 games. An 11-time NHL All-Star, Leetch played parts of 17 seasons with the Rangers (1987-88 – 2003-04), recording 240 goals and 741 assists for 981 points in 1,129 games.

During his tenure with the Blueshirts, Leetch established franchise records in numerous categories, including career assists, single-season assists (80; 1991-92), and career goals, assists, and points by a defenseman.

In addition to being the Rangers’ all-time leader in assists, Leetch ranks second on the franchise’s all-time games played and points list. He skated in 82 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Rangers, registering 28 goals and 61 assists for 89 points, and he is the franchise’s all-time leader in playoff assists and playoff points.

Although Richards’ career on Seventh Avenue was relatively short compared to Leetch’s, Brad is remembered for many significant moments as well.

Richards played three seasons with the Rangers (2011-12 – 2013-14) after signing with the team as a free agent on July 2, 2011. In 210 regular season games with the Blueshirts, Richards tallied 56 goals and 95 assists for 151 points.

Over his three seasons with the Rangers, he tied for the team lead in goals, and ranked second on the team in games played, assists, and points. Richards also served as an alternate captain in each of his three seasons in New York.

In 2011-12, Richards tied a single-season franchise record, and established a career high, by registering nine game-winning goals.

Richards skated in 55 Stanley Cup Payoff games during his tenure with the Rangers, registering 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points.

He helped the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and win at least one playoff series in each of his three seasons with the team, and he also helped the Blueshirts advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014.

The Rangers posted a 5-0 record in Game 7 of a playoff series during Richards’ three seasons with the team, and Richards registered the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Second Round against Pittsburgh in 2014.

No need for an analytics guru or a philosopher for that matter to sum up the total value of the new additions.

Gorton concluded, “Brian and Brad put us in a win-win situation!”