Brian Leetch Elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

17-year Ranger is part of star-studded class

Former Rangers Brian Leetch was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday, a fitting cap to a career spent becoming the greatest defenseman in the history of the franchise. Given the length of his career, his strength as a two-way player and, of course, the magical run to the 1994 Stanley Cup, Leetch may even be the greatest player ever to wear a Ranger sweater.

Mark Messier played too many years in other cities and Rod Gilbert could never get the Rangers over the championship hump, but Leetch was essentially a Ranger lifer who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when the Ranger finally removed the monkey from their back. He's second to Gilbert on the team's all-time scoring list, played the second-most games in Rangers history and holds the franchise record for career assists.

Throw in a Calder Trophy as rookie of the Year in 1989 and two Norris Trophies as the NHL's best defenseman, and Leetch has a damn fine case for that honorific. Either way, there's no questioning Leetch's place among the sport's greatest legends.

"It's a pretty overwhelming day, to say the least," Leetch said. "I'm certainly humbled, excited and proud. Congratulations to the rest of the guys being inducted today. It's just an amazing thing."

The rest of the guys constitute an awfully impressive group. When Leetch is inducted into the Hall in Toronto on November 9th, he'll be joined by Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman and Devils majordomo Lou Lamareillo. In addition, John Davidson, who added an "Oh, Baby!" to many of Leetch's 240 goals as a Ranger, will be honored for his broadcasting work.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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