'Give me a call,' NHL legend Reggie Leach lends ear to Saskatoon students
Leach won Conn Smythe Trophy, scored 5-goal game during playoffs
"I'm more proud of what I did after hockey than what I did during hockey," said Leach, who won the Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975. "Hockey to me was just a stepping stone."
You have problems and you want to talk, give me a call. I'll talk to you. I'll listen to you guys.- Reggie Leach
Leach grew up in Riverton, Man., and was raised by his grandparents before he left home at 16, to play junior hockey in Flin Flon.
Leach is the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy and once scored five goals in a single playoff game. However, prior to that game, concerned teammates called his wife when he missed the pre-game skate. Leach had stayed out all night drinking.
In a rare move for an NHL champion, he urged the students at Mount Royal to call him personally if they ever need a sympathetic ear.
"You have problems and you want to talk, give me a call. I'll talk to you. I'll listen to you guys," Leach promised, telling students they could call him collect.
The former Broad Street bully noted he's taken more than 50 calls from other young people since he started talking to students a decade ago. He left the school with a stack of photographs of himself, each with his number on the back.
"I've done this for a number of years. I've probably had 50 to 60 calls at night," Leach said. "Even if you talk to these kids one or two minutes and give them the acknowledgment they deserve, I think for me it's a big relief just to see smiles on their faces."
"My mind is kind of blown right now," said Grade 10 student Chaston Dustyhorn . "I'm gonna tell my grandparents I met him."
Leach recently published an autobiography titled The Riverton Rifle, and stopped in Saskatoon as part of his book tour.
"Be proud of who you are and who you came from," he told the students. He urged them to stick with school longer than he did, and to learn from their mistakes.
"Hockey was great to me," he said. "It doesn't matter where you come from guys, it's what you make of what you want to do with your life."