Monday, August 3, 2009
Born on this date in 1980, Jordan Leopold, a product of the US National Team Development Program (NDTP), competed for four seasons at the University of Minnesota. He would score 23 followed by 24 points during his first two seasons on the blueline for the Gophers before really hitting his stride with 49 points as a junior backed up with 48 points as a senior. He would captain the team during the 2001-02 season, which would see the Gophers capture the NCAA Championship on essentially home ice at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, a mere eight miles from their home arena in Minneapolis, in front of over 18,000 screaming maroon and gold clad fans. He would also be named the winner of the 2002 Hobey Baker Award, the fourth Gopher to win the award after Neal Broten, Robb Stauber and Brian Bonin.
Leopold would be drafted #44 overall by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim but would be traded to the Calgary Flames before ever suiting up for the Ducks. After three seasons in Calgary, where he would score a career high 33 points in 2003-04, Leopold would be traded to the Colorado Avalanche only to have his season ruined by an unbelievable run of injuries, which included hernia surgery, a groin injury and a fractured wrist - all in the same snake-bit season which saw him skate in just 15 games.
In 2004-05, Leopold would manage to get into 43 games while dealing with another litany of injuries which included a hip ailment, a lacerated leg, pneumonia and a concussion. Finally healthy in 2005-06, he would play in all 64 of the Avalanche's games up until the NHL Trading Deadline, when he would be dealt back to the Calgary Flames and appear in the Flames final 19 games to become the only player that season to play 83 games in a league with an 82 game season.
For the 2009-10 season, Leopold has signed to play with the Florida Panthers.
As part of the changing of the guard with Team USA, Leopold has now appeared for the United States in the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships, the World Championships four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008) and the Olympics in 2006.
The jersey I am featuring today is a Nike 2001-02 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers alternate Jordan Leopold jersey as worn by the Golden Gophers during their National Championship season and Leopold's Hobey Baker winning season of 2001-02.
Here is a video of the 2002 National Championship Minnesota Gophers, followed by Leopold's memories of playing pond hockey as a youth.
Based on these next to highlights, Jordan Leopold apparently owns the Red Wings Chris Osgood.