From player to coach, Cody McLeod still impacting Minnesota Wild’s young players
After a lengthy professional career, the 38-year-old McLeod has been brought on as a development coach.
ST. PAUL -- It was a little strange seeing Cody McLeod actively working with Minnesota Wild prospects at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul last month.
In a past life, McLeod played for the Colorado Avalanche and made the most of his physicality to intimidate some of the younger players on the Wild roster.
Wait. Maybe things haven’t changed all that much now that the 38-year-old McLeod, a former left winger, has been brought on as a development coach.
“We hired him just so he could scare the heck out of all our guys,” Wild director of player development Brad Bombardir said with a laugh. “It’s been awesome so far.”
All jokes aside, it made a lot of sense to hire McLeod, especially after seeing him lead the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League the past three seasons, appearing in 110 games from 2019-22.
“I definitely wanted to stay in the game,” said McLeod, who played more than 750 games over his 12-year NHL career, from 2007 to 2019. “This came together pretty quick after last season. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
It’s a unique position for McLeod because he spent a lot of time in the minors with some players who soon will be making an impact in the NHL. Just last season he was on the same line with winger Adam Beckman in the minors.
“It was pretty cool to have him out here,” said Beckman, who has an outside chance of making the Wild roster out of training camp this season. “It’s been a ton of fun.”
Ask anyone who played with McLeod in the minors, and you will hear about his leadership. Not only did he always do his best to impart his wisdom, McLeod wasn’t afraid to drop the gloves to stand up for some of the younger guys.
He’s “just been around the game a long, long time,” Beckman said. “I learned so much from watching him. I’m sure any guy in the room would say the same thing. It was awesome having him. He’s a lot older than most of the guys in there, and I think it’s really important to have a guy like that.”
As for McLeod’s new role with the Wild, it doesn’t sound like a lot will change. He wants to help the next generation get to the NHL by any means necessary.
“You get excited for them,” McLeod said. “We were actually watching NHL games in the hotel (last season with the Iowa Wild) when we were on the road. It was pretty neat for the younger guys to see, and as an older guy, I was super jacked when they got the opportunity to watch them play.”
There are aspects of being a player that McLeod undoubtedly will miss now that he is retired. It’s impossible to replicate the nervous feeling going into training camp, for example, and there’s nothing like being ice level before the drop of the puck.
But McLeod can still be involved in his new role, and he is thrilled about that.
“I wanted to stay in the game, and Minnesota is giving me that chance,” he said. ” I want to make sure I make the most of it.”
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