Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni Interview – #PENSultimate – Jamie Leach

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Jamie Leach (20) skates with the puck during a NHL hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni and the Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni on January 14, 2017, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia,PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jamie Leach

Position: RW • Shoots: Right
6-1, 205lb (185cm, 92kg)
Born: August 25, 1969 (Age: 47-140d) in Winnipeg, Manitoba ca
Draft: Pittsburgh, 3rd round (47th overall), 1987 NHL Entry
Amateur Teams: Hamilton Steelhawks, Niagara Falls Thunder, New Westminster Bruins
Relatives: Father Reggie Leach

It is said “We should carve our name on hearts, not tombstones. A Legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” (Shannon L. Adler)

Jamie Leach certainly exudes the qualities from the fundamental definition of that quote.

After a nearly two decade professional Career that saw Jamie taste success on both sides of the pond and capture two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 90’s, securing his place in NHL history with his father Reggie as the first Aboriginal father/son duo to win the Stanley Cup, it was his his perseverance to be the best and set himself apart from the crowded rookie ranks that were on the Penguins roster at the time (Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi, Jaromir Jagr). It was well noted by Penguins Staff and saw Jamie slyly materialize into one of the Penguins most promising prospects.

Once his playing days wound down, Jamie transitioned to what some would consider some of his most important work to date.

The development of the “Shoot to Score” Skills development camp

http://shoottoscorehockey.com/

Shoot-to-Score Hockey presents a unique opportunity for your Community/ Minor Hockey Association. The talents of two former NHLers and members of the Berens River First Nation are yours to utilize to educate and strengthen your community hockey program. Through on- and off-ice clinics and seminars, Shoot-to-Score Hockey wants to aid in developing your youth in the present and for the future. Remote communities spend tens of thousands of dollars per year sending a select few of their youth to accelerated hockey schools, which takes them away from their community. Shoot-to-Score Hockey will travel to your community to run a first class hockey program specifically designed for your members and performed in a familiar and comfortable environment. Included in this program are Youth Development Camps, Coaching Mentorship Program, and “Life Choices” awareness talks.

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Visit the site to learn more about the fantastic work Jamie and his exceptional team are up to.

Away from the rink, Jamie is involved with several projects and personal endeavors, one of which is that of “property owner”.

If you are thinking of touring some of the more exotic locals of the globe – Jamie might just have some property in his personal portfolio that fits your needs.

You can get more information here:

https://www.vrbo.com/845039?unitId=1392978

https://airbnb.com/rooms/12035961?s=8&user_id=60767847&ref_device_id=253bc080dc218c66dd2e456af3ec1a52556967f6

Here is my conversation with #PensUltimate Jamie Leach

Growing up, you spent a lot of time around the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Do you feel that being exposed to that level of talent and calibre of players that were part of the team at the time, fed your desire and passion for the game?

For sure it definitely fed my desire to want to play hockey. My mom told me a story when I was around seven that I said to her that I wasn’t going to go to school anymore because I was going to become a hockey player like my dad. So this was something that I always wanted to do. Other than that being around the Flyers and professional hockey really helped me to understand the game. My hockey IQ when I was younger was pretty strong, which was good because my skating was absolutely atrocious and definitely kept me from having a longer NHL experience. Lastly being around guys like Bobby Clarke, Billy Barber, etc helped my transition to becoming a pro player. When I turned pro there were no surprises and I know exactly what to expect.

You and your father were the 1st Aboriginal Father/Son duo to Capture the Cup. How did it feel to share in that Honor together and did you ever feel a sense of responsibility to be a role model to the Aboriginal community?

This is by far the one accomplishment that I am most proud of!! Our First Nation heritage is very close to our hearts. We are very fortunate that we get to visit all different First Nation communities. Teaching hockey in our travels is secondary to our main goal which is to be role models and show that it doesn’t matter where you are from that all goals can be reached. Our message includes positive life choices and hard work.

In terms of your time with Pittsburgh: Can you share any special memories from your time on/off ice and from the city?

Well there are too many to mention especially since I was there for both Stanley Cups in the 90s. The main one is coming of the plane from Minny after the 1st Stanley Cup and walking into the Pittsburgh airport into the sea of fans waiting for us to return. Jim Paek, Craig Patrick, Wendell Young, and I were the last off the plane and the crowd literally swarmed behind us! It got scary as the crowd was kind of swaying and was super loud. We grabbed each other’s hands and had to push and pull each other through the crowd. It was a great feeling but got pretty hairy!!

You played 3 Seasons in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. Can you share any memories you have from the Hamilton/Niagara area?

Loved playing in Hamilton and especially the Copps Coliseum! Fans and support was great. The organization was one of the better ones in the OHL and we were fortunate of always having a pretty good squad. Coach/GM Bill LaForge really molded me into an all-around player and got the best out of me which helped me to get drafted.

Can you take us back to your draft day and share your experiences before/after the draft?

My first year of eligibility I had to go in the first three rounds as an underage player. I wasn’t going to go to Detroit where the draft was held in 1987 but Coach suggested that I go anyway. My teammate Ron Benacci and his family were going so they invited me to go along with them. Well Ronnie and I are sitting in the stands and the Penguins announce “From the Hamilton Steelhawks of the OHL…” so I turn to Ronnie to congratulate him and I hear “ the Pittsburgh Penguins select Jamie Leach”. Obviously I was pretty surprised because I wasn’t even ranked to go that year. People always ask me how was being drafted by Pittsburgh being raised in Philly? It didn’t matter to me as all I wanted to do is play… On a side note Ronnie got drafted by the Leafs.

Recalling your time in Britain, can you discuss your time across the pond and how difficult it is to leave your family behind for approx 6-8 months per year and how a player keeps connected to home?

Going over to the UK was a breath of fresh air as I wasn’t really enjoying the game here at home. Seems that I was being caught in the middle of hockey politics. It was nice just to go and play and not worry about outside factors effecting my career. I enjoyed living in a different country and embracing a different life style. Many of my friends and family seemed to visit quite regularly which was great. The internet was just getting huge so there was lots of contact over instant messaging and emails. Loved playing in Nottingham for the Panthers and was very fortunate to have captained that club for a few years.

Your Shoot to Score Hockey Camp(s) are doing some incredible work with Hockey players all around the Country. Can you discuss the process of developing the Camp from the earliest ideas/discussions to seeing the idea come to fruition and making such a positive impact on the participants?.

When I was still playing during the summer I got involved with a few First Nation Hockey Programs that did camps in bigger communities and brought in players from remote areas. Well the remote communities or associations were spending a fair bit of funds to usually send a smaller number of athletes to these camps. Dad and I came up with Shoot to Score Hockey and we started travelling to these areas where the communities were spending the same amount of money but now blanketed the entire community which dispersed community funding reaching more athletes.

We believe that everyone is entitled to high level instruction and we want to provide this service to everyone. This is how Shoot to Score Hockey started and today we get the privilege of working with all levels of players from all different communities in Canada and the US. This coming year is our 12th and we have to date visited over 60 different communities and hockey associations and continue to grow.

What would say have been some of the most gratifying moments for you working with the Camp?

I have the best job in the world… I get to travel all over North America and develop hockey players and coaches! Greatest part of Shoot to Score Hockey is returning to see how the player’s development has improved and to maintain strong relationships. How can you beat that??

What would you like the Legacy of the Camp to be?

Player development is our main focus. One area that I continue to improve on is to be conscious of the quality of instruction that we provide. This is a business but the mighty dollar isn’t the end result for me. All of Shoot to Score’s teaching instructors are professionals and I am very proud to say that we extend the strongest staff available to work with our participants.

 

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