Hockey Hall of Famers Chris Chelios and Brian Leetch will serve as head coaches for the sixth annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 21 in Buffalo, New York, it was announced today by USA Hockey.
The event, which will feature 42 of the top American-born prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, will be staged at KeyBank Center, home of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and site of the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
"It is only fitting that a game aimed to showcase the future of American hockey be coached by two of the greatest American players to ever play," said Jim Johansson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. "As we've already seen with former Prospects Game players, many of the players in the game will go on to star in the NHL, and fans are also likely to see some players that will be back in Buffalo in December to represent our country in the World Junior Championship."
Combined, Chelios and Leetch, have represented the United States internationally on 17 occasions, including five Olympic Winter Games, two World Cups of Hockey, three Canada Cups, two International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championships and five IIHF World Junior Championships. In total, the two defensemen skated together internationally five times, helping Team USA claim the inaugural 1996 World Cup of Hockey, where Leetch served as captain, and a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, where Chelios was captain.
Recently named an assistant coach for the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team, Chelios skated 26 seasons in the NHL before retiring as the all-time leader in games played by a defenseman in NHL history (1,651). A member of the Montreal Canadiens (1983-90), Chicago Blackhawks (1991-99), Detroit Red Wings (1998-2009) and Atlanta Thrashers (2009-10), the Hockey Hall of Famer won three Stanley Cups (Montreal: 1986; Detroit: 2002, 2008) and was awarded the Norris Trophy three times (1989, 1993, 1996) as the NHL's best defenseman. Internationally, the Chicago, Illinois, native skated for Team USA on 10 different occasions, including four Olympic Winter Games (1984, 1988, 2002, 2006), three Canada Cups (1984, 1987, 1991), two World Cup of Hockey events (1996, 2004) and once at the IIHF World Junior Championship (1982). In addition, Chelios served as an assistant coach for the bronze medal-winning 2016 U.S. National Junior Team. He also won an NCAA national title as a player at the University of Wisconsin in 1983, where he was named to the NCAA all-tournament team.
One of only seven blueliners to accumulate more than 1,000 points in his career (247-781--1028), Leetch skated for three teams over his 18-year NHL career, including the New York Rangers (1988-2004), Toronto Maple Leafs (2004) and Boston Bruins (2005-06). An 11-time NHL All-Star, Leetch was awarded the 1989 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie after setting an NHL record for goals by a rookie defensemen and five years later became the first American-born player to claim the Conn Smythe Trophy while leading the Rangers to the Stanley Cup championship in 1994. To date, Leetch is the only American-born player -- and second player ever -- in NHL history to win the Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Norris Trophy in his career. Internationally, Leetch suited up for Team USA 11 times, including three Olympic Winter Games (1988, 1998 and 2002), one Canada Cup (1991), two World Cups of Hockey (1996, 2004), two IIHF Men's World Championships (1987, 1989) and three IIHF World Junior Championships (1985-87). Additionally, Leetch played collegiately at Boston College in 1986-87, where he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
NOTES: To date, 127 alumni of the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game have been drafted in the NHL, highlighted by 30 first-round selections. Standouts Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres), Noah Hanifin (Carolina Hurricanes), Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings), Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) are among the current NHL stars that have played in the game previously while last year's most valuable player, Casey Mittelstadt, was the first American chosen in the 2017 NHL Draft when the Buffalo Sabres selected him eighth overall ... USA Hockey will unveil the CCM-designed uniforms for the game in September. The players, chosen by USA Hockey in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, will be announced in the coming weeks ... Previous host sites for the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game include Buffalo (2012, 2014, 2015), Pittsburgh (2013) and Philadelphia (2016).