On a happier note, Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of Brian Leetch's official retirement from the NHL: May 24, 2007.
One of the most humble and unassuming superstars to ever grace the New York athletic stage, Leetch is the unquestioned greatest player in Rangers' history and perhaps the most beloved.
It was said that Leetch was a better person than a player, which is why he was so admired by teammates and fans alike.
Leetch is the Rangers' second all-time leading scorer, trailing only Rod Gilbert.
In 1994, he become the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the playoffs. That year, he scored 34 points in the playoffs, the second-highest total ever for a defenseman.
Leetch is one of only five NHL defensemen to score 100 points in a season with his 102-point campaign in 1991–92, when he won the first of his two Norris Trophies as the NHL's top defenseman.
He also won the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year in 1989 and his 23 goals that season remain an NHL record for rookie blueliners.
Leetch amassed 981 career points for the Rangers with 240 goals and a franchise-record 741 assists. On June 23, 2009, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A year earlier, the Rangers' retired Leetch's No. 2 jersey. During that ceremony, Leetch recorded another assist, when, in typical fashion, he deflected attention away from himself by announcing that the Rangers also would be retiring Adam Graves' No. 9 jersey.
Mark Messier, Richter, Leetch and Graves -- the Four Horsemen of Broadway -- all have their jerseys retired.
In 2004, Leetch was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, on his birthday, no less. Following the lockout, he spent one season in Boston, but never looked right wearing the black and gold.
Leetchie spent 17 seasons with the Rangers, becoming a true New Yorker.
After his retirement, however, he remained in Boston because he didn't want to uproot his youg family. Leetchie married a New York school teacher - no trophy wife for him -- and has three sons - Jack, 12, Riley, 9, and Sean, 7.
This is a poem I wrote about Leetchie when the Rangers retired his number in 2008:
The final member of the Blueshirts’ Trinity
beloved by every Rangers’ supporter for all eternity
First there was Mike Richter, the clutch goalie
then there was the great Mess, who was holy
Now, it’s Leetchie’s time, the life of Brian
one of the finest ever seen in N.Y., we ain’t lyin’
A Connecticut Yankee, his star always shined bright
yet he was so quiet, never craved the spotlight
If Leetchie had his way, he wouldn’t have a night
but we all know that just wouldn’t be right
He wouldn’t want all the attention, all the acclaim
still, the pride of Cheshire achieved his greatest fame
During that wonderful year of ninety-four
when he made every Ranger fan’s spirit soar
with a performance for all the ages
the humble superstar earned his wages
For 17 seasons, a Ranger, true blue
good times and bad, through and through
with such pride he wore that sweater
No. 2, nobody ever did it any better
Now his famous jersey does always hang
forever in the Garden rafters with the gang
Eddie and Rod, Mike and mighty Mess
he was the best, every Ranger fan will confess
During that time, that unforgettable spring
the way he moved the puck made us sing
Thank you, Brian, for all the great times, the joy
We remember your Ranger debut, just a boy
He grew up in the Garden, there he became a man
winning the heart and soul of every Ranger fan
Thank you, Brian, for the way you played the game
with such elegance and grace, always the same
Though slight of build, in the biggest game of all
he came through as always, standing proud and tall
from the left faceoff circle, he scored the first goal
that helped the Rangers win that cherished bowl
On that most special of nights, the 14th day of June
when all Rangers fans were singing that happy tune
he won the Conn Smythe Trophy, smiling from ear to ear
then the chant every Ranger fan waited so long to hear
That night, that moment, we will remember forever more
Thank you, Brian, for your professionalism, your class
To you, we raise a toast from our wine glass
To our Leetchie, the most beloved Ranger of them all
In two years time, he will be enshrined in the hall
The memory of that Cup victory will never fade
remember the 1.5 million who turned out for the parade?
After all the heartbreak, fifty-four long and painful years
with his brilliance, he helped wash away the tears
bringing back to old New York, hockey’s holy grail
thirty-four playoff points he scored, oh, what a tale
To our kids and our grand kids we will tell of the story
when our hockey boys achieved their greatest glory
with the slick defenseman who never had any fear
still, you can hear the Garden, hear them roar and cheer
When the Rangers owned the city, created an emotional wave
the forever boys, so much to the greatest fans they gave
with Glen Sather, we will always have quite a beef
for making our Leetchie, in March of 2004, a Maple Leaf
After the lockout, he went to play for the B’s, a move so bold
the old Ranger never felt at home wearing the black and gold
another year, playing in another uniform made us feel so cold
time for “Our Leetchie” to walk away, he didn’t need to be told
Now, he comes home, we get to say farewell the right way
shower him with love, a privilege it was to see him play
close your eyes, 1994 again, so effortless is No. 2’s skate
he takes the Cup from Mess, over is the 54-year wait.
At 10:59 p.m., in the broadcast booth, Sam Rosen did chime
with J.D. at his side, that “This one will last a lifetime”
and that famous sign, “Now I can die in peace,” it said.
Brian Leetch, we will remember him until we are dead