The Blackhawks took game four of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night thanks to the offense who finally showed up to play. In a game where 11 goals were scored, defense certainly took a backseat, and it was left to the forwards to get the job done. Nick Leddy took a backseat to the defense, recording only 2:37 of ice time in a game that took extra time to solve.
There wasn’t a clear explanation as to why Leddy played a career-low four shifts in the game, when he usually he averages 15:13 in this year’s playoffs. Due to the lackluster play of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, some said his ice time should have been increased!
It’s not often in the sports journalism world that we get to personally relate to these professional athletes, but this is a rare exception. Allow me to sympathize with Mr Leddy.
I play hockey myself, and this year I was a rookie on my high school team. We had a team with a lot of skilled, dynamic players, and because of that, I found myself opening the gate a lot more than going through it. It doesn’t feel good knowing that your coach thinks you can’t get the job done, but in the big scheme of things, it’s really not so bad. There were times where our fourth line got to contibute, and we made the most of these opportunites, because we weren’t sure when the next one would come. There was also times where I wouldn’t see the ice for periods at a time, but I was mostly unperturbed, as we were a successful club. In a story that my coach still speaks of, he approached me after one game, (an overtime win, believe it or not) and apologized for cutting into my ice time. I told him that I wasn’t worried, as we had won the game, and that comment was obviously the right one. We went on to capture the league championship, and this hockey season ended up being a learning experience that I will build on in the coming years.
The reason I told this story is because Leddy needs to have the same attitude towards coach Joel Quenneville‘s decisions as I did for my coach’s. Leddy is young; Only 22 years old, and has performed great in the Blackhawks uniform. When asked about his playing time after game four, he responded with “I think we won the game… That’s really all that matters.” He has lots of time ahead of him to contribute in a bigger role for the Hawks, and will one day play in a leadership role.
Right now, however, the Blackhawks are fortunate to have the best defensive pair in hockey, in Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Both of them played great in game four despite the offense, and their years of experience together, not only on the Blackhawks blue-line but Team Canada’s as well, make these two players a no-brainer for the coaching staff when they need defense in key situations.
If the Blackhawks indeed win the Stanley Cup, Leddy can be proud that he contributed in the role he played throughout the regular season and the playoffs. But with only three games to decide who takes the trophy home, he can’t expect to put up big numbers with the experience he has. Leddy has a great future in this league and hopefully with this club, and he should not be concerned at all with his ice time.
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