ST. PAUL — It was a little bit unusual seeing Cody McLeod actively working with Minnesota Wild prospects at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul final month.
In a previous life, McLeod performed for the Colorado Avalanche and made essentially the most of his physicality to intimidate a number of the youthful gamers on the Wild roster.
Wait. Perhaps issues haven’t modified all that a lot now that the 38-year-old McLeod, a former left winger, has been introduced on as a growth coach.
“We employed him simply so he might scare the heck out of all our guys,” Wild director of participant growth Brad Bombardir stated with fun. “It’s been superior up to now.”
All jokes apart, it made a whole lot of sense to rent McLeod, particularly after seeing him lead the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League the previous three seasons, showing in 110 video games from 2019-22.
“I undoubtedly wished to remain within the sport,” stated McLeod, who performed greater than 750 video games over his 12-year NHL profession, from 2007 to 2019. “This got here collectively fairly fast after final season. I’m wanting ahead to the problem.”
It’s a novel place for McLeod as a result of he spent a whole lot of time within the minors with some gamers who quickly will likely be making an affect within the NHL. Simply final season he was on the identical line with winger Adam Beckman within the minors.
“It was fairly cool to have him out right here,” stated Beckman, who has an out of doors likelihood of constructing the Wild roster out of coaching camp this season. “It’s been a ton of enjoyable.”
Ask anybody who performed with McLeod within the minors, and you’ll hear about his management. Not solely did he at all times do his finest to impart his knowledge, McLeod wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves to face up for a number of the youthful guys.
He’s “simply been across the sport an extended, very long time,” Beckman stated. “I realized a lot from watching him. I’m certain any man within the room would say the identical factor. It was superior having him. He’s lots older than many of the guys in there, and I feel it’s actually essential to have a man like that.”
As for McLeod’s new function with the Wild, it doesn’t sound like lots will change. He needs to assist the following era get to the NHL by any means needed.
“You get excited for them,” McLeod stated. “We have been truly watching NHL video games within the lodge (final season with the Iowa Wild) after we have been on the highway. It was fairly neat for the youthful guys to see, and as an older man, I used to be tremendous jacked after they acquired the chance to observe them play.”
There are features of being a participant that McLeod undoubtedly will miss now that he’s retired. It’s unimaginable to copy the nervous feeling going into coaching camp, for instance, and there’s nothing like being ice stage earlier than the drop of the puck.
However McLeod can nonetheless be concerned in his new function, and he’s thrilled about that.
“I wished to remain within the sport, and Minnesota is giving me that likelihood,” he stated. ” I wish to be sure I benefit from it.”
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