Esa Tikkanen’s speeches were confusing: “Is he Finnish?”

NHL legend Bryan Leetch remembers his time together with the Finnish legend in the New York Rangers.

Stories EsaTikiTikkanen from the strange way of speaking Tiki-talk are not caught in the wind.

When Tikkanen moved to the New York Rangers in the 1992-93 season, the man was not understood in the dressing room.

– I asked him if you speak English. He answered something strange. Then I asked the Swedes in our team if his language is Swedish. They shook their heads. Mark Messierwho had played with Esa in Edmonton, said that not even the Finns in Edmonton understood the speech, recalls the NHL legend Bryan Leitch.

– We asked Esa in English if he is really Finnish. He answered something and laughed at it. That’s what he always did, he laughed at his speech. We interpreted that he was doing well, Yankee pack added.

Tikkanen and Leetch were winning the Rangers’ most recent Stanley Cup in 1994.

– He was a real person on and off the ice. Funny guy. One of the best big game players I played with. When we played against a tough team, he was able to kill the underdogs and score goals.

One of the best

Brian Leetch won the Stanley Cup, World Cup, Olympic silver and U20 World Cup bronze in his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009. On Sunday in Tampere, the Yankee was ennobled in the International Hockey Federation’s hall of honor. PASI LEISMA

Leetch could be characterized as one of the best puck defenders to ever play in the NHL.

In 1,205 regular season games, he scored a massive 247+781=1,028 power points. Above, there are seven men in the NHL’s all-time scoring list.

In the 1991–92 season, the Yankee scored 102 power points. Since then, no defender has been able to do the same. Swedish Erik Karlsson has reached 101.

– You had to be in a good team and play a lot of minutes so that the score was possible. I often got to play the entire two-minute advantage. Messier helped a lot because he made the game simple for me.

In the seasons 1987–2006, in his fabled pucks, the greatness of Pak’s achievement is reflected by the fact that the NHL was much dirtier then than it is now.

– There were a lot of physical players, so I had to skate hard to stay alive.

Leetch’s skating skills were textbook.

– I learned to skate quite young. In 1988 I was on the US Olympic team. We did a lot of skating practice before the Calgary Olympics. Training helped me take my skater to the next level – that’s a big reason why I was successful in the NHL.

It has been said that the humble man shunned the limelight during his playing career.

– It wasn’t like that. There is so much more to New York than hockey: music, theater and bigger sports. Ice hockey is a small sport there, so that’s why I was in the media quite a bit.

Leetch, 55, currently lives in Boston. After his playing career, he has worked, among other things, in TV jobs, as a Rangers advisor and as a junior coach in his children’s team.

At the weekend, he visited Tampere, as he was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation’s gallery of honor.

Leetch was moved to tears in his acceptance speech on Sunday in Tampere. PASI LEISMA

Leetch played for Rangers in the seasons 1987–2004. Career ended in Boston in the 2005–06 season. PDO

Esa Tikkanen was the man of the NY Rangers three different times during his long NHL career. Tomi Natri / All Over Press