Jordan Leopold: More Than Just a Feel Good Story For The Minnesota Wild


Domestic and substance abuse, violent crimes, the use of performance enhancing drugs are so prevalent in our professional sports landscape that the more rare ‘feel good’ story seems to almost be blocked out. these days  Back during the NHL trade deadline on March 1st, when the Minnesota Wild traded defenseman Justin Falk and a 5th round pick in 2015 to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Golden Gophers star Jordan Leopold it was the kind of deal that would’ve made no waves at all.  But this trade was different, made so by Jordan’s 11-year old daughter Jordyn Leopold who wrote to the Minnesota Wild back in January asking the team to trade for her dad to bring him closer to home.

"“The deal was done already when we saw it, almost simultaneously I guess, but that’s a touching letter,  He’s a great pro.  We wanted to do the right thing with Jordan Leopold. That’s what we had talked about the whole time, we knew that his family was in Minnesota. There is a human side, believe it or not, to our business.  I think that it’s great that he can go home, join his family.  I see that letter and it’s really touching.” ~ Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekkalainen on trading Jordan Leopold and Jordyn’s letter."

The news of Jordyn’s letter to the Minnesota Wild and the fact her wish came true went beyond viral.  It vaulted the story beyond the world of social media and into mainstream news outlets as the Leopold family found itself being mentioned on NBC‘s Today Show.  Jordan Leopold spent the next few days after the trade talking about the letter and being pleased to be playing back in his home state as he recognizes he’s in the twilight of his NHL career.  It is a nice story, but its really just part of it.

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The question that few were really asking at that time was whether Jordan Leopold could really help the team.  While it was obvious he was there to add depth many wondered if he’d go back to being a healthy scratch as he was in Columbus before the trade occurred.  Afterall, the Minnesota Wild had young Christian Folin waiting in the wings and another player with local ties in Nate Prosser who were also in the mix for the final spot on the team’s 3rd pairing.  So playing time with the team was far from guaranteed.

In his 12-year career Leopold has spent time with 7 other NHL clubs beyond the Minnesota Wild.  Getting used to new defensive partners or new systems was nothing new for the Golden Valley, Minnesota-native.  Yet once he got a chance to play he exhibited the kind of poise you’d expect from a veteran defenseman, providing solid minutes in his own zone and making smart, well-calculated passes to start the breakout.

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  • It was this latter skill that has separated him from Nate Prosser who had a penchant for using the glass and boards whenever he felt pressured.  While that usually kept Prosser from a major defensive mistake it still often resulted in a turnover and with a puck possession team like the Wild eliminating those turnovers can make a big difference.

    His offensive production with the Wild will not wow anyone, just a single assist in 25 regular season and playoff games.  While being a -2 in 7 playoff games might draw ire from some, you have to consider he’s playing with Minnesota’s biggest risk-taker in dynamic offensive defenseman Mathew Dumba.  As Dumba has found his comfort zone of joining the rush and unleashing his wicked slap shot, that has meant Leopold has to be prepared to cover for his partner more diligently and in that capacity I think he’s done a superb job.  Leopold knew that by joining a fairly young Wild blueline (4 Wild defenseman are 25 or under) he’d likely be employed in a mentor-like role.

    This is certainly not unprecedented in Wild history.  Keith Carney was an invaluable mentor to Brent Burns as he struggled to figure out the balance between knowing when to jump into the attack and when not to.  By all accounts, Dumba is like sponge in the way he absorbs information and advice from his older peers and Leopold, who was quite a gifted offensive defenseman himself back in his college days is the perfect teacher.

    As much as we loved young Jordyn’s letter, the addition of Jordan Leopold has been more than just a feel good story for the Minnesota Wild.

    Next: Minnesota Wild Sign Forward Christoph Bertschy

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