The NHL will have another prolific defenseman on staff next year.
Former Rangers blueliner Brian Leetch will replace the outgoing Rob Blake in the NHL’s Player Safety Department, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
Blake, 43, left his post earlier this summer to join the LA Kings as an assistant GM.
The Leetch hire comes after a summer filled with speculation regarding his future. While he had been working Rangers broadcasts on MSG, the former Conn Smythe winner was linked to a number of coaching gigs, including a rumor where Leetch would’ve joined the Blueshirts as an assistant coach had Mark Messier gotten the head coaching job.
Instead, Leetch will join Brendan Shanahan’s player safety staff, alongside another former NHL defenseman — Stephane Quintal, who joined the department in 2011.
The NHL has confirmed the Leetch hire and announced the addition of Patrick Burke — a former Flyers scout and founding partner of the You Can Play Project — to the player safety department.
“Brian Leetch and Patrick Burke are two astute members of the hockey community who will bring unique perspectives and personal experiences to the Department of Player Safety,” Shanahan said in a statement. “As one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history, Brian displayed a rare sense of the game and its nuances that will be a tremendous asset to our department’s efforts to make the game safer for our players while maintaining its physicality and passion.
“The ability to evaluate players that Patrick refined as a pro and amateur scout will be invaluable to the team that monitors games each night to both identify incidents that might merit Supplemental Discipline and to note developing trends in our game.”
Burke will work under a similar umbrella to the one his father, ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke, worked under during his time as the NHL’s director of hockey operations in the 1990s.