Ranger Faithful Pulling for Leetchie

I haven’t had much time to make a post the last week or so, but there is just too much stress building inside of me regarding my beloved NY Rangers. Alexi Kovalev, Petr Nedved, Jussi Markkanen and Chris Simon being dealt were just mere flesh wounds. If this gets posted great, if not it’s a great way for me to vent on a very sensitive subject aka the low blow of all low blows: Brian Leetch being dealt to Toronto.If it couldn’t get any worse for the New York Rangers and their fans, a harsh reality hit exactly four days ago(that is March 4, 2004). The man that was oh so loyal to an organization for his entire sixteen year career. The man who had helped ended a 54-year curse. The man who probably was the only reason why we paid money to even go see the New York Rangers play at Madison Square Garden. The five words that we all did not want to hear or did not want to believe: Brian Leetch has been traded.

Last season, many felt that the New York Rangers and GM Glen Sather would hold an absolute firesale to finally move the franchise into rebuilding mode. Instead, Sather acquired high profile winger Alex Kovalev, and Anson Carter. Of course, like the script has been written, the Rangers did not make the playoffs. This season, the New York Rangers again had high expecations of making the playoffs and stopping a franchise high seventh year of missing the playoffs. Once again this season, the Rangers were the NHL’s most penalized team as well as the most inconsistent. With one last hope of possibly gaining a playoff birth, GM Glen Sather sent Anson Carter to the Washington Capitals in exchange for high profile forward, Jaromir Jagr on January 23, 2004. Even with the addition of Jagr, the Rangers still struggled. New York never was able to get a winning streak going, and surely but slowly, began to fall even more down the latter of the Eastern Conference. Sather then removed himself from his position as head coach inorder to “focus on the GM position.”

We all didn’t want to see it happen, but you could just tell that the man who lost all his fiscal responsibility in Edmonton, the man who was responsible for hiring Ron Low, Bryan Trottier, and himself behind the bench was finally set to realize it was time to rebuild. Let me rephrase what I just said, we all did not mind using the term rebuilding, but Brian Leetch was the only Ranger many fans did not want to see traded. On March 4, 2004, Brian Leetch was traded with a Conditional Pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jarkko Immonen, Kondriatev, a 1st Round Pick(2004) and a 2nd Round Pick 2005). Now personally, this was a hefty package the Leafs paid for Leetch’s services, and Sather was smart in pulling this deal for ‘the future benefit of the organization’. Respect goes a very long way, but too bad Glen Sather doesn’t understand this. Apparently, Senile Sather did not tell Leetch that he was actually in trade talks with him, nor did he really explain to him on where he was going to be shipped. Brian Leetch did not want to be traded, he already won a Stanley Cup in New York and wanted to be apart of the solution to the Rangers’ struggles. Leetch, when a free agent this summer, agreed to all of Glen Sather’s terms by taking a pay cut and agreeing to not have a no-trade clause in his contract. Loyalty to a corrupt organization anyone? I think so!

A day after the trade that official put the rebuilding stamp on the NHL’s biggest spending team, Brian Leetch was interviewed on the Mike and the Mad Dog show on WFAN 660AM in New York. If anyone has ever listned to Mike and the Mad Dog, you easily can see they don’t know what a hockey puck is to a hostess cup cake. When Leetch came on, at 1:50PM EST, Leetch could have easily bashed Jim ‘Son of Cablevision'(term coined by Mike Lupica in Newsday) Dolan and Glen Sather for the way he was treated upon the trade which sent him North. Instead, Leetch took the high road and had nothing but positives to say about the Rangers, and most importantly the fans. I’m not talking about the corporate garbage that fills the seats near the glass, but the faithful who sit in the ‘blues’ or the upperdeck that support their team night in and night out. Mike Francesca then questioned how Ranger fans felt about the dealing of Leetch. A month and a week earlier, Sather lands the most expensive player in the game(Jagr), then turns around to move the face of a franchise in a chance to rebuild. Francesca concluded the show by saying Leetch will be back in New York. Can I honestly agree with this? There is a difference between letting a player know that he might be traded, not only for his sake but for his family’s as well, and just shipping him away without warning. Sather did the latter of the two by just sending Leetch away.

Matthew Barnaby, who has had his name appear in numerous trade rumors as we inch closer to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, said, “I’m going to duck.” Barnaby was referring to the Ranger fans about how they will show their displeasure of Glen Sather’s dealing of a long-loved Ranger. Barnaby was right, as the NYR faithful began to chant “Leetchie!” and “GO LEAFS GO!” Tom Poti, the man who has been in the dog house of many Ranger fans this season, said another interesting statement regarding Leetch. Poti felt that as players, the Rangers should look at themselves in the mirror for Leetch being dealt. Had the Rangers not put themselves into a position to miss the playoffs for a seventh year, Leetch could still be a New York Ranger(Not to mention Jussi Markkanen, Petr Nedved, Alex Kovalev and Chris Simon).

Could Brian Leetch finally be the X-Factor the Toronto Maple Leafs have been waiting for? There is no doubt that Mike Richter and Brian Leetch both evelvated their play in 1994 to lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup to end a 54-year curse. Jeez, doesn’t this sound a lot like the situation the Maple Leafs are in right now? I’m not saying one man can carry a team, but many of the ‘haters’ that wanted Gonchar in Toronto rather than Leetch could end up kicking themselves in the you know what once a Stanley Cup Champion is crowned this Spring. Leetch was a class act for the New York Rangers, and will represent the Blueshirts like no other. He easily could have went wherever he had liked this past season, but returned to the place where he played his previous 15 NHL Seasons. When future Rangers look at themselves in the mirror, they will look at Mike Richter and Brian Leetch as a reminder of what a TRUE NEW YORK RANGER actually is. I never thought that I would hear myself say this, but as of now I am a Toronto Maple Leetch Fan. So my fellow Ranger fans, it is okay to route for the Blue and White up North this post season. I won’t comment on the ‘rebuilding’ the Rangers are doing at the current moment, this post was meant for Brian Leetch. We are heading into the deadline and playoffs, why mention the New York Rangers? Good luck to Brian, as we’ll always miss him and thank him for everything he has done. GO LEETCH GO!!!