One of the best moments in the NHL last season came shortly after veteran defenseman Jordan Leopold, an ex-Gopher and Twin Cities native, was traded to the Wild for the stretch run.
We learned that his daughter, Jordyn, had written a letter in hopes that Columbus would trade her dad to the hometown Wild — and that, albeit coincidentally, her wish had been granted.
“Even now when I go to weddings or other events, that’s the first thing people bring up,” Leopold said Monday. He added with a laugh, “My daughter is more famous than me.”
It was suggested to Leopold, a pending free agent, that Jordyn should simply write another letter to the team he wants to play for next season.
“I wish it were that easy,” he said.
Instead, it’s been “pretty quiet,” Leopold said. He was preparing to speak to more than 100 local teenagers about leadership as part of a partnership between First Tee Life Skills & Leadership Academy and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson.
Leopold, who will be 35 next week, sounded like a man who knows the end of his career might be fast approaching. The Wild re-signed Nate Prosser in early July, decreasing the chances that it would bring back Leopold.
But he also sounded like a man who is living the messages of gratitude and appreciating the little things that he wanted to convey to his audience.
“This is the latest I’ve ever waited to see if I’m playing or not. After doing this for 13 years, it’s been a great experience. If it doesn’t end up working out, then it doesn’t work out. I can’t say I haven’t been there or done that. I’ve seen it all,” Leopold said.
“Of course I’d like to keep playing, but coming home this year with my family and experiencing what I did, I don’t think I could really go out with a better send-off if that’s the case.”
There was not a trace of bitterness in his tone.
“We’ll see what ends up happening,” he said. “I don’t think things will pick up again until maybe August. As a player, you want to know what’s going on. But you just have to wait and see what happens.”
In the short-term, he’s helping his wife, Jamie, launch Mississippi Gardens, an events center in Brooklyn Park slated to open later this year. Leopold figures that will be his career after hockey, adding that it’s his turn to offer support after Jamie, the high school sweetheart he has been with for 20 years, has given so much in his pursuit of puck dreams.
“We have four beautiful kids,” Leopold said, again sounding like a man who hasn’t forgotten to appreciate the simple things. “Life could be worse.”