NEW YORK -- Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch and former Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke have joined the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety, NHL Senior Vice President Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan announced today.
Leetch will fill the position of Manager of Player Safety recently vacated by Rob Blake, who last month was named assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. Burke will serve in the newly-created position of Director of Player Safety.
“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. “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.”
Chosen by the New York Rangers with the ninth pick in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft, Leetch fashioned a 17-season career in New York that is unparalleled in franchise history. A Stanley Cup champion in 1994, Leetch won the Calder Trophy in 1988-89, the Norris Trophy in 1991-92 and 1996-97 and, in 1994, became the first American-born player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP. The holder of nearly every franchise record for defensemen, his 981 points as a Ranger rank second only to Rod Gilbert on the club’s all-time list.
An 11-time NHL All-Star who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins to complete his 18-season career, Leetch ranks eighth all-time among League defensemen with 1,028 points. Internationally, he represented the United States in three Olympics (1988, 1998 and 2002) and captained Team USA to the 1996 World Cup of Hockey championship. He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Burke is one of the founding partners of the You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation. Burke served as Executive Director of You Can Play from its founding in March 2012 until being succeeded on Aug. 20 by former NFL player Wade Davis. Burke was instrumental in forging an historic partnership between You Can Play and the NHL last March and, as a president of the organization, remains active in all of its initiatives.
Burke spent seven years in the Philadelphia Flyers’ scouting department, focusing upon both pro scouting and evaluating NCAA players. He assisted with the drafting and signing of players and consulted upon trades. A recent graduate of the New England School of Law, Burke also spent a year with the NFL’s New England Patriots as their chief legal intern.
Established in June 2011, the NHL Department of Player Safety’s mission statement is: “We are committed to making the game as safe as possible for our players while preserving the intensely physical, competitive and passionate nature of hockey.”