"It is hard to put into words what this means to me; especially since I’m joining my father in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Simply getting to the NHL was a challenge for me, and I would like to thank all of my supporters who made many sacrifices on my behalf."
"I am humbled and excited by this honour, particularly since for me it is difficult to think of myself as a member of the Hall of Fame. My hockey career has been a long and enjoyable process. I am appreciative of all those who have helped me. From my father as my youth coach, to Mark Messier who helped me out so much -- both on and off the ice surface."
"My goal was always just to play in the NHL and I never dreamed of anything beyond that. To be honoured in the same room as The Rocket, Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky is a tremendous honour."
"It is a tremendous honour to receive this news. I want to thank the Selection Committee for recognizing my contributions – I truly had chills down my spine when I got the news."
"This award is completely unexpected. Over my career I have been fortunate to have been associated with great players and coaches, and this award recognizes their contributions to my career."
It's pretty tough to quibble with any of the selections, but if you were so inclined, the fellow people will get most up in arms about is Leetch. Still, his list of accomplishments is pretty incredible, and his numbers would project to be extremely high as a forward:
• Played NCAA hockey at Boston College where he was named a Hockey East First All-Star Team, Hockey East Rookie of the Year, Hockey East Player of the Year, NCAA East First All-American Team, and a Hobey Baker Award finalist, 1987
• Picked 9th overall in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Rangers
• 18 NHL seasons played with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins
• Two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner (1992, 1997)
• Calder Memorial Trophy Winner and NHL All-Rookie Team, 1989
• Lester Patrick Award Winner, 2007
• NHL First All-Star Team: 1992, 1997
• NHL Second All-Star Team: 1991, 1994, 1996
• Nine NHL All-Star Games Played (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002)
• Served as Captain of the New York Rangers 1997-2000
• Holds New York Rangers records for most career goals (240), assists (741), most assists in a season (80), most points by a defence-man (981), and most assists by a defence-man in one season (102)
• Ranks second among Rangers all-time points leaders (981), games played (1129), and points by a rookie (71)
• Holds NHL record for most goals by a rookie defenceman in one season with 23 (1988-89), and ranks second in the league for most points by a defenceman in one season with 71
• Marked his 1000th point on October 18, 2005 while playing for the Boston Bruins
• Stanley Cup Championship; 1993-94 New York Rangers
• Became the first U.S. born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1994, after leading the league in playoff scoring
• Represented the U.S.A. on three occasions at the Winter Olympic Games (1988, 1998, 2002), serving as team captain of the 1988 team, and a silver medal performance at the 2002 Olympics
• Represented his native U.S.A. at three IIHF World Junior Championships (1985-87) where he was named to the 1987 First All-Star Team; two IIHF World Championships (1987, 1989); two World Cups (1996, 2004), and at the 1991 Canada Cup
• One of 12 players to be named to the All-Time USA Hockey Team, 1997
• NHL Regular Season Career: 1205 games played, 247 goals, 781 assists, for 1028 points
• NHL Playoff Career: 95 games played, 28 goals, 69 assists, 97 points
• Announced his retirement from NHL play; May 24, 2007
• Sweater number (#2) retired by the New York Rangers; January 24, 2008
• Inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, 2008
He's also seventh all-time in defencemen scoring, ahead of Nick Lidstrom (who will pass him next season), Larry Robinson, Chris Chelios, Bobby Orr, Scott Stevens and Brad Park, and is in the conversation as the best American defenceman ever along with Phil Housley, Chelios, Gary Suter and Mark Howe.
Given the barrier for entry, Leetch is a Hall of Famer.