Thursday, July 2, 2009
July by the Numbers continues on July 2nd with jersey #2.
Brian Leetch, picked 9th overall by the New York Rangers, won the Calder Trophy as a rookie in 1988 after first playing in the Olympic Games in Calgary. He played for Team USA in the 1991 Canada Cup, quickly followed by his best personal NHL season in 1991-92 when he totaled 102 points, including a Rangers record 80 assists and captured the Norris Trophy.
1993-94 would see Leetch hoist the Stanley Cup as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy, the first and only American-born player to do so. 1996-97 would go onto see him win his second Norris Trophy.
After captaining the United States to victory in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Leetch would be named captain of the Rangers in 1997 and play in his second Olympics in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, followed by his third, earning a silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002.
Leetch would play in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and then score his 1000th career point in the 2005-06 season while playing for the Boston Bruins. He would finish his NHL career with 247 goals, 781 assists and 1028 points.
He was one of 12 players voted to the All-Time USA Hockey Team in 1997 and then have his number 2 retried by the Rangers on January 24, 2008 and was been inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in October of the same year. Just ten days ago it was announced that Leetch will be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in November of this year.
The featured jersey today is the very attractive Starter 2001-02 New York Rangers Alternate Brian Leetch jersey with the 9/11 Memorial Ribbon patch.
This jersey is perhaps the most successful third jersey in the history of the NHL in my book. The darker shade of blue gives it a richer, more elegant look compared to the blue of the Rangers road jerseys of the time. The updating of the Rangers shield crest for the shoulders is a more modern and exciting version than the original, but the real triumph is the Liberty Head main logo crest, also created especially for this jersey. It's bold, unyielding stare announces the presence of the Rangers as force than cannot be ignored, nor easily overcome.
I'm torn about the lack of any waist stripes, but have to give the Rangers credit for breaking out of the mold of every jersey having waist stripes, as was the norm in 1996-97 when this alternate style first appeared. There were two previous alternates without waist stripes, but both of those had bold striping across the center of the jersey, in the case of the Penguins 95-96 Alt with it's wild, color-changing aysemetrical central stripe, and the Canucks alt from the same season with it's top red half and bottom black half, but the Rangers stands alone as the first solid color body free of any stripes, creating a look that certainly made the players appear larger and more intimidating.
Unfortunately, Starter wasn't the best at customizing their own jerseys, as the red sections of the numbers are much too thin compared to the authentic jerseys.