Brian Leetch is part of a select group of individuals when it comes to representing the United States in hockey at the Olympics. After one season at Boston College, Leetch joined some of the best young Americans to play at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. The U.S. missed the medal round and one day after the Closing Ceremony, Leetch made his NHL debut with the Rangers.

By 1998, Leetch had a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy and two Norris Trophies. He also had a chance to return to the Olympics as NHL players were permitted to play in the Games for the first time. Leetch represented the U.S. again in 2002, winning his lone medal, a silver in Salt Lake City.

Of course, in 2018, the NHL has kept its players at home for the first time in more than two decades. Leetch, who has been involved in Team USA camps the past few years, finds the silver lining in the situation.

"It's a great opportunity for the players that are going now," he says. "I got a chance to play in '88. It was a great memory that I have. We didn't do so well, but the experience was fantastic."

Among those players on the 1988 team with Leetch were future Rangers teammate Mike Richter, current U.S. coach Tony Granato, Kevin Stevens, Craig Janney and Peter Laviolette.

In 1998 and 2002, the Olympic experience was much different, with the world watching Leetch and the Americans. At the time, it wasn't just the fans who got excited by the elite competition level, but the players too.

"The ideal of the Olympics is always having the best versus the best and I think when they allowed the NHL players to go, it was a real honor as a player and as a fan," Leetch says. "When I wasn't playing, it was great to be able to sit there and watch the best players in the world in the sport I love play against each other."

The United States placed seventh in this year's pool play and will take on Slovakia in the first game of the playoff round. Puck drops at 10:10 p.m. ET Monday in the United States.

Leetch spoke to ThePostGame at the Rangers' "Skate with the Greats" event at Rockefeller Center last Friday night. The Garden of Dreams Foundation event, in its 24th edition, raised money for Ronald McDonald House New York. Other Rangers legends in attendance included Richter, Mark Messier and Rod Gilbert. Kevin Weekes served as the night's emcee.

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