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Leetch Welcomes Karlsson to 100-Point Club: ‘It’s an amazing accomplishment’

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Brian Leetch is happy for Erik Karlsson.

On Monday night, Karlsson scored his 100th point, becoming the first defenseman since Leetch in 1991-92 to achieve that mark.

Before Karlsson, only five defensemen, Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin, Paul Coffey, Al MacInnis, and Leetch had scored 100 points.

Karlsson and Leetch actually had a surprise meeting a little more than a week before the San Jose Sharks blueliner broke into the 100-point club.

Leetch, head coach of the 18U Boston Jr. Eagles boys team, was in San Jose for the 2023 USA Hockey 16U/18U National Championships, held at Sharks Ice. According to head coach David Quinn, Leetch and his team came down to the locker room during warm-ups before the San Jose Sharks’ Mar. 30 tilt before the Vegas Golden Knights.

Karlsson shared, “He just said he enjoyed watching me play and he was happy for for me and he was hoping that I would be able to get to 100.”

Reached via text, Leetch expanded on his admiration for Karlsson.

Like many, he was impressed and surprised that Karlsson could score 100 points without as many weapons around him.

“[Erik’s] accomplishments on reaching 100 [points] is amazing for a team that hasn’t had the success that it has had in the past,” Leetch told San Jose Hockey Now. “I always said a D-man would definitely hit 100 again on a top team with a top [power play].”

The San Jose Sharks are anything but this year, finishing with a 22-44-16 record and a 26th-ranked power play.

Leetch also shared that he’s always been a fan of the high-flying Karlsson: “I always defended [Erik] while in Ottawa when he had people trying to find faults in his game.”

Since Karlsson entered the league in 2009-10 with the Ottawa Senators, he leads all defensemen with 761 points.

Leetch, of course, knows what it’s like to be a prolific offensive blueliner. Over the course of his career, from 1987-88 to 2005-06, Leetch was the highest-scoring rearguard in the league with 1,028 points.

It takes one to know one, and Leetch, like Karlsson, has also been criticized for being too offensive-minded at times during his career. So Leetch was all too happy to defend one of his brethren.

“[Karlsson] plays half the game, controls play when out there, and then makes others around him better,” the 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee stated.

“If [you] play half the game, [you’re] going to get beat at some point,” Leetch explained. “It’s like the guys in the NBA that care about winning and try and block a shot and get dunked on — it happens to everyone.”

Getting beat from time to time didn’t prevent Leetch from being awarded the 1992 and 1997 Norris Trophies, and it’s not likely to prevent Karlsson, the 2012 and 2015 Norris winner, from taking home his third this June.

The 100-point defensemen club is truly hallowed company: Orr, Potvin, Coffey, MacInnis, and Leetch were all first-ballot Hall of Famers, and Karlsson is likely to be so honored too whenever he hangs up his skates.

“It’s an amazing accomplishment,” Leetch said.

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