Yesterday, I wrote a feature about Mike McLeod and told the story of how he became the hockey player he is today through stories his parents, Rich and Judi, shared with me. I had the pleasure of meeting them soon after the Devils drafted Mike 12th overall this past June and knew right away that they were hilarious and would need to be shared with the Devils family.
I happened to see them again in Plymouth, MI for the National Junior Team Evaluation Camp, where Mike was part of Team Canada. They had driven four hours to watch Mike play one game, were driving four hours back that night and were fully prepared to do it all over again the next day if Mike was on the roster for that game too. Sure enough, they came back the next day and two days after that as well. They are road warriors, and they do the same to see their other sons play, too. That is why I dubbed them the #superparents. I mean…they bought their neighbor's house to be able to build the boys a bigger backyard rink! I think that definitely qualifies for super status.
In any case, I wanted to share a few more stories from them that didn't make it into the feature because they made me laugh and I hope they'll make you laugh too.
I asked which team or player Mike liked to watch growing up and this is what they said:
Rich: They play that stupid computer hockey all the time, whatever game that is.
Judi: Computer hockey? You mean Xbox?
Rich: Whatever game that is. But, they don't really watch a lot of hockey. Mike would always rather be playing it than watching it.
Judi: They even played road hockey all the time in the summer. Mikey and Dylan Strome [the Strome's - Ryan plays for the Islanders, Dylan was drafted third overall all by Arizona in 2015 and Matthew is eligible for next year's NHL draft - also lived in their neighborhood] would always be the captains and the series would go on all summer. One kid even built a Stanley Cup in wood shop and whichever team won, one of the kids would take the cup home for the night and, for my boys, whoever lost, they wouldn't speak to each other for at least a day because they were so competitive. That started when they were 8-years-old and they still play now. They play anytime they can. Now that they're all so busy, it's only three or four times every summer, but when they were younger, it'd be three or four times a week.
Rich: Pretty much everyone knew when the McLeod's were home because the boys would be playing hockey. They'd come home from practice and go right out on the rink. It was non-stop. When we built the locker room in the garage, that's where they'd eat their dinner so they didn't have to take their skates off. I'm telling you, these kids are crazy, but they just love to play the game that much.
Rich: I used to coach Mikey, all the way up to atom and I always said he was like a racehorse in terms of his entire personality. You can even spook him like a racehorse, the whole bit. But, when you think about a racehorse, when the gate opens, they just go and Mikey is the same way. It was like the gate opens and people go out the door, so what became the biggest issue with him, was that every time the door opened, he thought it was his turn to go out the door, even if it wasn't his shift. I was always having to grab him and hold him back. It was just out of control trying to keep this kid on the bench. But then when you let him go, it was like he was shot out of a cannon. There was one time - I used to wear these sandals on the bench - and the door opened and I was holding him back, but his feet were still moving, trying to get out onto the ice and he actually stepped back and cut my foot. It was insane. He just always wanted to be on the ice.
Judi: It happened even in soccer. I would coach him there and when it was his turn to sit, he would never sit. He'd always jump onto the field in the middle of the play and it got to the point that I'd have to get another parent to practically sit on him so he wouldn't run on the field. He was always just like, 'I'm ok I don't need a rest, let me play.' He was never really good at taking turns.
As fast as he is, Mike needs more time to grow into his 6'2, 195 pound frame and be stronger on the puck to compete at this level and will soon be sent back to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. Should you happen to see any of their games this year, keep your eyes peeled for Rich and Judi McLeod, whose youngest son Ryan - eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft - also plays for the Steelheads. There's no doubt they'll be there wearing their Steelhead gear and yelling, "Go, Mikey, go!!"