Clad in a Wild sweater with her father’s number on it, Jordyn Leopold put an exclamation point on a weeklong, feel-good story when she stood, took the microphone and said, “Let’s Play Hockey.”
The 10-year-old daughter of Jordan Leopold became an Internet sensation when her letter exhorting the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade her father to the Wild went viral last week.
Sunday at Xcel Energy Center, after the Wild had lost 3-2 to Colorado, she sat with her dad in his locker and answered questions about what has been a busy week, a time culminated with her doing the traditional pregame rouser for the fans.
“It was different,” she said of the experience. “It was a little nerve-racking.”
The letter, written in January as part of a class at school on persuasive writing, was never sent. But, when the trade that sent Leopold to the Wild was completed, Jordan’s wife, Jamie, sent the letter to KFAN Radio, and the rest is history.
“We all have those times where we miss parents, or don’t have them,” Jordyn said about writing the letter. “And it was just kind of like one of those moments. … It was another way to write my feelings down on paper. It kind of helped me a little more.”
And then, putting her head on her dad’s shoulder, she said, “I thought that maybe I could have a chance of getting my daddy home.”
It all worked out.
“That letter went a long way,” Jordan Leopold said. “New Zealand, it found its way there. Israel. Russia. It’s been all over. I think that impacted a lot of people, touched a lot of hearts. Definitely Dad’s. It was nice to see her up there saying ‘Let’s Play Hockey.’ She practiced a little, but I didn’t give her any tips. She did it all.”
One final thing. Jordyn was asked if she got an “A” on the paper.
“Nope,” she said.
For the first time in nine games, defenseman Jared Spurgeon — who had been out because of a head injury — returned to action. At least one other player could follow sooner or later.
Defenseman Marco Scandella, who missed his fourth consecutive game Sunday because of an undisclosed injury, did some skating on his own. More will be known after Monday’s practice.
Spurgeon ended up playing about 17 ½ minutes, with most of that coming with the two teams at even strength.
Wild coach Mike Yeo was impressed with what he saw.
“I thought he played a real good game,” Yeo said. “Just what I’d expect from him. He’s a smart player. With him it’s more a question of getting out and finding his timing. His execution was sharp from the start.”
On the same page
The Wild has not had a lot of chances to practice in recent weeks. Still, Yeo has been able to blend in new faces like Leopold and Chris Stewart rather seamlessly.
“It’s a challenge, that’s for sure,” Yeo said. The key? Yeo said he’s been able to take advantage of teaching moments during games. Also, he and his staff have made extensive use of video to give the new players an idea of the team’s style.
“They have been very responsive,” Yeo said. “They’re fully bought in to knowing our game as quickly as possible. That said, some practice time would be nice.”