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Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Bruins sign defenseman Leetch to one-year deal

Associated Press

BOSTON -- Brian Leetch is headed back to New England.

Brian Leetch
Leetch

The 37-year-old Norris Trophy-winning defenseman who was raised in Connecticut and played at Boston College, signed a one-year, $4 million contract on Wednesday as the Boston Bruins continued their widespread restructuring.

The signing of the unrestricted free agent came one day after the Bruins signed free-agent forwards Glen Murray, Shawn McEachern and Dave Scatchard.

Leetch played one season at Boston College before he was selected by the New York Rangers with the No. 9 pick in the 1986 NHL draft. He went on to become the defensive cornerstone of the Rangers team that won the Stanley Cup in 1994.

He played 17 seasons in New York until he was traded in March 2004 to Toronto. Leetch had two goals and 13 assists in 15 regular-season games with the Maple Leafs, and no goals and eight assists in the playoffs -- his first postseason appearance since 1997.

Leetch is second on the Rangers' career scoring list with 981 points and is No. 1 on New York's assists list with 741. Al MacInnis, with 1,274 points, is the only active NHL defenseman with more points than Leetch. And Phil Housley, with 1,232 points, is the only U.S.-born defenseman in NHL history with more points.

Leetch won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1988-89 and twice won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman. Leetch also played on U.S. Olympic teams in 1988, 1998 and 2002.

McEachern, who turned pro in 1992 after playing for Boston University, got a two-year deal. Murray got a four-year contract that keeps him with the Bruins. Scatchard, who played last season with the New York Islanders, also got a four-year deal.

The Bruins prepared for the period after the lockout ended last month by having few players under contract. That helped them move swiftly to sign free agents who might not fit under other teams' salary caps.

Boston's top two forwards, Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, are unsigned restricted free agents. They can become unrestricted free agents after next season.