Leddy ready to pull his weight for Black­hawks

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS HOCKEY - By Chris Kuc

NICK Leddy had the best seat in the house as the Black­hawks were con­quer­ing the Bru­ins dur­ing the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nal in June.

The Hawks de­fence­man spent much of the fi­nal three games watch­ing from the bench. It was a change for Leddy, who had skated reg­u­lar shifts dur­ing the sea­son and in the first three rounds of the play­offs.

The fi­nals were the best of times and the worst of times for the 22- year- old Leddy. Af­ter av­er­ag­ing 17 min­utes, 25 sec­onds of ice time on 21.6 shifts per game dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, he played 2: 37 on four shifts, 6: 53 on nine and 3: 25 on five in Games 4 through 6.

“You’re down a lit­tle bit that you’re not out there, but you just have to con­trol what you can con­trol and do what­ever’s best for the team,” Leddy said. “The team and win­ning al­ways comes first. It was hard, but it was def­i­nitely fun get­ting those wins at the end.”

Coach Joel Quen­neville said lim­it­ing Leddy’s min­utes was “all part of what was hap­pen­ing” and can be a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the young de­fence­man.

“( When) you’re in that po­si­tion, you want to play and be a part of it ( and) you just have to work your way back,” Quen­neville said. “We want to make sure he’s con­fi­dent and com­fort­able out there.”

There was knowl­edge gained by Leddy, point­less in the fi­nals and with a mi­nus- 1 rat­ing and six shots.

“I learned to just be pa­tient and con­trol what you can con­trol,” he said. “Ev­ery­thing is not go­ing to al­ways go your way. I just needed to be ready to do what I could to help the team.”

Af­ter a short sum­mer dur­ing which Leddy took the Cup to his home­town of Eden Prairie, Minn., and at­tended Team USA’s Olympic ori­en­ta­tion camp in Ar­ling­ton, Va., Leddy is ready to use the lessons learned to his ad­van­tage.

“It’s def­i­nitely good mo­ti­va­tion. Win­ning the Cup was a dream that I’ve al­ways wanted to come true. I’m just happy with where my game is, but I know I can keep im­prov­ing.”

Quen­neville said the op­por­tu­nity will be avail­able. The coach has big plans and big min­utes for Leddy.

“We’d like to see him move up as we go along here,” Quen­neville said. “We an­tic­i­pate him play­ing im­por­tant min­utes for us. He com­ple­ments our team game. We want to get him go­ing.”

Said Leddy: “It gives me a lot of con­fi­dence ( that Quen­neville) said that. I have to take ad­van­tage of that.”

Leddy sees op­por­tu­ni­ties for im­prove­ment at both ends of the ice.

“It’s get­ting to guys quick,” said Leddy, who closely watches team­mate and for­mer Nor­ris Tro­phy win­ner Dun­can Keith. “If you watch Dun­can, he’s so good at that. He’ll be on guys real quick and make them make a mis­take or make a de­ci­sion quicker than they had liked to. That’s a huge thing for me.”

Leddy also wants to be­come more ac­tive in the of­fen­sive zone. He had six goals and 12 as­sists in 48 games last sea­son and in train­ing camp has made a con­certed ef­fort to un­leash his shot from the point more of­ten.

“That cre­ates a lot of of­fense,” he said. “If you look at some of the goals in the play­offs, that’s where a lot of goals came from — a shot from the point and re­bounds.”

Leddy’s main fo­cus will be tak­ing the next step in his de­vel­op­ment now that his ca­reer is in full swing.

“This is will be my fourth year — it flew by,” he said. “I feel more and more com­fort­able ev­ery year. You can al­ways keep learn­ing and get­ting bet­ter. That’s some­thing I want to do for how­ever long I play.”

— Chicago Tri­bune

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