Playing on a team with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, it’s tough to grab headlines outside New York if you’re any other Ranger.
But Brian Leetch is just the player to do it. It’s tough to ignore one of the top defensemen in the National Hockey League.
He’s on his way to capturing his second Norris Trophy. Leetch entered Saturday’s game at Chicago riding an 11-game spurt in which he had recorded seven goals and 12 assists, but the Rangers were shut out 2-0. He’s the leading scorer among defensemen, with 17 goals and 45 assists in 58 games.
“Show me a player that means more to their team than Brian Leetch,” challenged Rangers coach Colin Campbell.
“He adds a whole new dimension to the team,” Messier said.
With the NHL season nearly three-quarters complete, fighting has increased this season by 21 percent.
According to statistics provided by the NHL, there was an average of 1.4 major fighting penalties a game last season in the first 730 games. This season, the average after the same number of games is 1.7.
Arena scoreboards and sound systems increasingly glorify the battles with violent cartoons and film clips while aggressive rock music blares. On ESPN2’s late-night hockey show, analyst Barry Melrose celebrates the goons.
While showing tape of Chicago’s Jim Cummins exchanging punches with San Jose’s Chris LiPuma on Thursday night, Melrose burbled: “One of the best fights of the year! This fight is a humdinger, ladies and gentlemen! Toe to toe! Toe to toe! Toe to toe!”
On the ice
Trevor Kidd made 20 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and the Calgary Flames won their fifth in a row by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 Saturday in Calgary.
Adam Deadmarsh scored his team-leading 24th goal as the visiting Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-2 and defeated their former assistant coach, Joel Quenneville.
Philadelphia, playing without injured Eric Lindros, beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the sixth straight time at home, winning 5-1.
John Druce, Eric Desjardins, Pat Falloon, John LeClair and Daniel Lacroix scored, and Trent Klatt added a pair of assists for the Flyers.
Claude Lapointe scored at 2:46 of overtime to give the New York Islanders a 1-0 victory over the Florida Panthers in Uniondale, N.Y.
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