Based on the brilliance that is NHL Operations these days, I was not able to watch the Rangers retire #2 last night. Brian Leetch is my favorite player of all time. He's the reason I like the Rangers. Heck, he's the reason I like hockey. And when it came time to honor him at MSG, I was not able to see it broadcast. This is true despite the fact that I pay the NHL for every possible offering they provide. Sad. Just sad.
Fortunately, what the NHL deemed me unworthy of watching live, I was able to see this morning. I watched the speeches, the fan reactions, the presentations of the gifts and the banner raising. Oddly enough, my favorite moment was when Leetch got to announce that Adam Graves and his #9 are next.
Even if you don't like the Rangers, it's worth seeing. Adam Graves was an awesome player with Rangers. He was all heart. A grinder and a worker, he scored 52 goals in 1994, something most people forget. And despite an impressive resume on the ice, Graves is a better man off it. He's unmatched as an ambassador for the game and tireless in his efforts to help others.
Still, it wasn't because of who they will honor that made the moment so special, as much as how it unfolded. That moment is not typically a public one, but last night we got to see someone's reaction as it happened. And it was great. The look on his face is perfect. I can't do it justice. Just go watch.
In the end though, that ceremony will wait until next year. Last night belonged to Brian Leetch and his family. And what a night it was (even if I had to wait until morning to see it).