The Caps' New Goalie
No, not the Frenchman. I'll go ask him about Saint Nectaire and Pont l'Eveque next week, but before there was Huet, there was Brett Leonhardt, a Caps Web producer for all of two months, who earned a one-day stint in goal during Tuesday's morning skate. Tarik blithely called it perhaps the highlight of his life, which was a bit much, but yeah, he was excited.
Here's what happened. When Olie Kolzig started taking mornings off on game days, a media relations exec brought Leonhardt's credentials to the coaching staff--the 6-foot-7 goalie played at Oswego State and for Neumann College, and once spent 48 hours with the Kitchener Rangers before leaving camp to preserve his collegiate eligibility. But then the Caps got on a hot streak and didn't want to make any changes, so the idea seemed to wither away.
But the team took this Monday off, and wanted to run full-ice drills on Tuesday, and Kolzig was taking the morning off, so on Monday Bruce Boudreau showed up at Leonhardt's cubicle. "You're my goalie tomorrow," he said. Not something that happens to many cubicle dwellers.
"It was awesome, I'm not going to lie," he told me. "Even though I'm 25 years old, it was a dream come true."
So he signed a waiver, and called his parents, and went for a jog, and got some extra rest, and got his equipment, and laced up for his first legit action since Neumann was eliminated from its conference tournament almost a year ago. Except now, instead of facing Manhattanville and SUNY Fredonia, he was facing Alex Ovechkin.
In the dressing room he was between Quintin Laing and Tomas Fleischmann; Ovechkin and others came over to wish him well. The first shot came from Mike Green; pad save. Ovechkin tried going five hole but Leonhardt got his knees down in time and earned some stick slaps. Next time Ovie brought the noise high, and Leonhardt got a glove on it.
"It wasn't like this big SportsCenter save or anything, I just found myself kind of lucky," he said.
But afterward he got congratulations from coaches and players, and he said that after two or three drills "I felt comfortable, believe it or not."
"I think I held my own, that's about it, not even close to NHL material....but honestly after a time, it just felt like a regular practice back in college."
"I didn't steal a roll of tape or anything like that," he said. "I just took it for what it was worth and went back up to work."
See, it was trade deadline day, and Leonhardt was kind of busy updating the Web site. Bizarre. The team, you might recall, played well that night and won, 4-1, and so if you were following superstition you might think Leonhardt would be back in goal the next time Olie took a morning skate off, except that trade deadline thing brought a third goalie, and so the Caps won't have to poach players from the media relations staff in the future.
"What can you do?" Leonhardt asked. "It was fun while it lasted."
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