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Cody McLeod reflects on MJHL stepping stone

Courtesy of Wayway Wolverines:

A veteran of 775 games in the National Hockey League, Cody McLeod is well known in the hockey world for intimidating opponents with his physical presence on the ice.

Before McLeod came to be known as an enforcer in the professional ranks, the Binscarth, Manitoba native spent his 16-year-old season in a Wolverines uniform playing 30 minutes from where he grew up.

In 59 games during the 2000-01 Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) season, McLeod scored 27 goals and 29 assists.

“It was a great season, we had a pretty good team and we were still kind of building,” McLeod said about his first year in junior. “I had a good year and made the rookie MJHL all-star game. It was just such a great learning experience. I got to live at home and got to be close to my friends, it was awesome.”

“I had a great time in Wayway, I was the youngest on the team and I scored a lot more goals back then. Coming into the MJHL, that’s what I did. It wasn’t until my last couple of years in Portland where I started to show that physical presence. All I wanted to do is play hockey. Playing in Wayway was a great step towards playing in the Western Hockey League (WHL), the MJHL was a great stepping stone.”

Following McLeod’s season with the Wolverines, he would go on to play 257 games for the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL, where he accumulated 167 points and 661 penalty minutes.

And, after going undrafted into the National Hockey League (NHL), McLeod’s dream of making the best league in the world wouldn’t stop there.

“I don’t think it was until my last couple years in Portland that it was going to be realistic,” McLeod explained of his dream to get to the NHL. “Playing with players that are drafted, you just push yourself that much harder to get into that category. When you do get that opportunity you just have to make the most of it and keep grinding.”

“I started in the ECHL and got called up to the AHL and stayed there the rest of the year. The following year I signed a two-year contract with Colorado (Avalanche) and played another year and a half in the minors before making the NHL full time.”

McLeod would spend ten seasons with the Colorado Avalanche where the well-respected combatant was an assistant captain for half of his tenure in the Rockies. With stops along the way in New York and Nashville, the 34-year-old isn’t quite sure what his plans are for the upcoming season.

“I’m not sure right now. We’ll see what happens, I’ve got two young kids I would like to spend more time with. As of right now, nothing is set in stone with what’s going to play out, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

While McLeod mulls over his decision for next seasons plan, he will continue to spend part of his offseason close to home in Western Manitoba.

“We’re up there for a couple of months every summer so we’re pretty close to Wayway. Every time I’m around you run into people that know you use to play there so it’s pretty cool to be a part of,” McLeod concluded.