The grueling demands of an 82-game regular season are certainly taxing, so the NHL offseason provides players with vital time to R&R; to even rehab and reflect before readying themselves for a brand-new season come October.
Nick Leddy, who is entering his 10th season in the NHL this fall, has configured his offseason into a routine of sorts. Outside of the usual weddings here and there or spontaneous trips that may arise, Leddy has maintained a relatively consistent offseason agenda.
For starters, the Isles defenseman checks off his more restorative 'Rs' (rest and relaxation) by returning back home to Minnesota to spend time with friends and family and to take advantage of the bountiful lakes that cover the state.
"I love being on the water," Leddy said. "I'm definitely more of a lake guy. I love going fishing and having that time to myself."
Outside of fishing in Minnesota, Leddy ensures he makes a trip out to British Columbia for the Andrew Ladd Foundation Sturgeon Fishing Event at the end of July to benefit the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna and the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society. The three-day trip includes reeling in nine-foot long sturgeons by day and hanging around the cabin and campfire with fellow NHLers, including Ladd and Mathew Barzal, by night.
"It's just an amazing time," Leddy said. "The first time I came up [to the event] and did it I fell in love with it. Last year and this year I planned out a few extra days to stay and get my own fishing in because I love it so much."
When it comes to executing the necessary preparation for the upcoming season, the 28-year-old utilizes the same facility that he has trained at since even before he broke into the league back in 2010 for his off-ice sessions. His workouts are heavily focused on exercises to build power and generate explosive movements.
"I've been doing the same thing for about 11 or 12 years," Leddy explained. "I love it. It's a lot of explosive work or isometric extremes where you [work] in a really deep position to build that stamina and power. I couldn't imagine doing anything different. There's a pretty solid group of guys [including NHL and AHL players] we've got going. So, it's a good sign if they like it also."
Leddy and the Islanders had quite the regular season which featured a second-place finish in the Metropolitan Division (48-27-7, 103 points) and a second-round berth to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Defensively, the group completed an unprecedented turnaround of going from allowing the most goals in the league (296) in 2017-18 to leading the league with a 196 in the 2018-19 campaign.
Leddy was a key component of that reversal and took strides individually under coach Barry Trotz's defense-first philosophy, while still playing crucial minutes and quarterbacking the power play. After previously posting a minus-42 rating during the 2017-18 season, Leddy sharpened up his game to finish the regular season with an even rating last year. This offseason, Leddy is further rejuvenated and ready to return to his training sooner than he had in years past with longer summers.
Video: PIT@NYI, Gm1: Leddy fires knuckling puck by Murray
"I felt good pretty quickly after the season to start training again," Leddy said. "I started doing just little things a couple of weeks after the season. Honestly, I probably got into it a lot quicker than I have in years past. I think the thing for me is that you've just got to listen to your body and how you're feeling. If you're ready to get going again then have at it."
Since 2016, his summers have also included participating in the Da Beauty League in Minnesota. The games, which are played on Wednesday nights, consist of three four-on-four games with 23-minutes halves played between six teams of NHL-filled rosters.
"We have such a great hockey culture in Minnesota," Leddy said. "The hockey culture is such a small world to begin with. It's always nice to get together with everyone and play against them in a more fun atmosphere.
This season, Leddy is on Team Jack Links and is playing teammates fellow Islander and Minnesota-native Brock Nelson.
"It's always fun playing with [Nelson]," Leddy said. "We all know how skilled and good of a player he is. I think the biggest thing though is that we don't see each other a ton during the summer so it's kind of a way to catch up."
For Leddy and the Islanders, who entered the offseason with some question marks surrounding unrestricted free agents like Nelson, the eventual re-signings of Nelson, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee were a relief in returning a significant chunk of the Islanders core.
"It should be a big confidence boost for all of us," Leddy said. "It shows that they want to be here as well. We want to win as a group. It's huge [having Nelson, Eberle and Lee back]. Ever since I got to Long Island everyone welcomed me with open arms. We've had pretty much or pretty close to the same group since I've gotten there. That core group of guys is really special here."
With the waning weeks of summer numbered, Leddy is continuing to relish the precious time that remains but can't help the eager anticipation for the season that awaits.
"I'm very excited to get back and get everything going on," Leddy said. "I'm excited to get back into the routine of things getting to see the guys and obviously to get back out there playing again. Every summer starts to feel long at some point."