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Leetch, Burke join NHL safety department

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NEW YORK (AP) - Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch and former You Can Play executive director Patrick Burke joined the NHL's department of player safety on Thursday.

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Leetch is taking the position of manager of player safety that had been held by Rob Blake, who was named assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Kings last month. Burke will serve in the new 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,'' Brendan Shanahan, the NHL vice president of player safety and hockey operations said in a statement Thursday.

Leetch, who spent the majority of his career with the New York Rangers, ranks eighth among NHL defensemen with 1,028 career points.

He earned the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP when the Rangers won the Stanley Cup in 1994. He is also a two-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenseman and was chosen as rookie of the year in 1989.

Burke, a former Philadelphia Flyers scout, is one of the founding partners of the You Can Play Project, which fights sexual orientation discrimination in sports.

Burke, the son of former NHL executive Brian Burke, stepped down as executive director of You Can Play on Tuesday, but is still involved with the organization.

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