While the National Hockey League’s owners may lock out the players in the very near future, Binscarth’s Cody McLeod is still feeling pretty good about the contract he signed with the Colorado Avalanche in June.
“I’m really happy to go back to Denver for the next three years,” McLeod said. “Everyone just wants to get the season going. (The owners and players’ union) will look after the business side of it and hopefully they can come to terms on something pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to going back, getting into the playoffs, and making a push.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound left winger signed a three-year extension with the Avs that will pay him US$1.15 million per season. The five-year NHL veteran could have tested the free-agent market on July 1, but instead opted to sign with the only NHL team he’s ever known.
“It’s a bit of a gamble whether you wait until unrestricted free agency and hope another team will pick you up, but for us, my wife and I really enjoy the city of Denver and the people, players and fans there are great, so we’re happy that we stayed,” McLeod said.
Last season, the Avs battled the Los Angeles Kings down the stretch for the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference. The Avs, who feature young stars like Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, are considered a team on the rise and that was another reason the 28-year-old McLeod decided to stay put.
“We’re young on paper, but a lot of our guys have NHL experience now and it’s time that we start moving forward,” McLeod said. “We should be a playoff team and a playoff contender. All you have to do is get in the playoffs and then anything can happen.”
The deal also gives McLeod a measure of security in an unstable time. While the business side of the game is something that is out of McLeod’s control, getting ready for training camp, which typically starts around mid-September, is something that he can control.
“As a player you try not to think about the talk of a lockout and you prepare yourself like you’re going to playing,” said McLeod, who played his junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks in the WHL. “You can never get comfortable in this game. You have to stay hungry and I remember as a young player you were prepared to do whatever it took to take someone’s job, so as a veteran player you have to make sure you don’t lose that edge and prepare yourself like it’s your first game in the league.”
That “edge” is something that has made him a valuable commodity to the Avs as McLeod has shown a willingness to stand up for his teammates on the ice. For him, it all boils down to one word —compete.
“I like to play hard and get under people’s skin and usually when you’re doing that, blood boils over a bit,” McLeod said. “It’s just part of the game.”
Last season, McLeod tallied six goals and five assists in 75 games for Colorado. He also amassed 164 penalty minutes and is closing in on Adam Foote’s team record of 948 penalty minutes, sitting only 175 minutes behind the former Avalanche all-star. While penalty minutes may come naturally, McLeod has set a personal goal of reaching double digits in goals this season, something he’s only done once before, when he scored 15 goals in 2008-09.
But, first and foremost, McLeod wants to win.
“It’s all about doing your job,” McLeod said. “I want to win and contribute to the team.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 1, 2012