Pothier a fan of Leafs' Leetch

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:42 PM ET

 The two newest participants in the Ottawa-Toronto rivalry have more in common than not.

 When Connecticut native Brian Leetch broke into the National Hockey League with the Rangers in 1988, fellow New Englander Brian Pothier was an 11-year-old from the Boston suburbs. But it didn't take the latter long to choose a favourite player.

  "I always admired him," Pothier said. "He's a phenomenal player and I've always admired him. I watched him a lot in New York. He's a tremendous player and I have a lot of respect for him, the way he carried himself on the ice. Not many people can do the things he can."

 HAD HIS NUMBER

 Leetch spent a year at Boston College, while undrafted Pothier put in four years at nearby Rensaeller.

 "I had his number (2) in college," said a slightly embarassed Pothier, who retains that number in Ottawa.

 Pothier had 33 points in 36 games in the 1999-2000 season with RPI and then hooked up with the Atlanta Thrashers. He came to the Sens in the Shawn McEachern deal and made enough of an impression on the farm to warrant a brief playoff appearance last season.

 "This season, he's shown he's ready and that he's not afraid to get involved," Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said.

 Pothier and Leetch have clashed a few times this season, but the 27-year-old has kept it all business with the future Hall of Famer.

 "I know of him and that he's from New England from reading the press notes," Leetch said. "Any time there's a U.S. guy, especially, an East Coast guy, I try and pay attention. Unfortunately, you lose contact with people who watch these guys come into the league."


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