ST. PAUL, Minn. -- New Minnesota Wild defenseman Jordan Leopold has had an emotional 24 hours. It will be capped off Tuesday when Leopold makes his debut with his hometown Wild against the Ottawa Senators at Xcel Energy Center.
"This is up there. This is home to me and this is pretty special," Leopold said. "I got the phone call [Monday] from [Columbus Blue Jackets general manager] Jarmo [Kekalainen] and didn't know what to make of it. I've always dreamed of it and knew it was possible, but the fact that it becomes reality tonight is something special."
Leopold met his family at the airport Monday night, where he said he had an emotional reunion with his wife Jamie and four children.
His oldest daughter Jordyn, who turns 11 next month, has become a national sensation for the letter she wrote to Minnesota Wild coaches in January, asking them to trade for her father so he could come home.
"That was awesome. Especially this time of year, we're on the inside, we have families and we know the players' families, the kids are in the locker room, this time of year there's usually more players going the other way," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's a situation where dads are going to be leaving their kids, they don't want to relocate their family for a short period of time. I thought it was just a great story."
Leopold said the letter was never sent to the team but was something she wrote for a school project.
"She was writing a little bit persuasively at school and thought it was a good idea to write a persuasive letter," Leopold said. "That was something our family shared, ended up putting it on Facebook. Friends and family saw it and some other wives through the years that can relate to it, it definitely has some sentiment. I actually told my wife maybe she should take that off before deadline, but it ended up staying on and going out there."
Twin Cities radio station KFAN-FM got ahold of the letter Monday morning when Jamie Leopold dropped it off to friend and show host Paul Allen, who posted on the station's website and tweeted it.
By the time Leopold was traded to Minnesota around noon Central Time, the letter was trending locally on Twitter. It was on most of the late-night highlight shows Monday, and by Tuesday morning had crossed the line from sports to news.
"I woke up this morning and Carson Daly is reading the letter on the 'Today Show,'" Leopold said. "We've been contacted by everyone to get my daughter on TV. We're quite humble people; the fame or whatever you call it, we don't want it to get to their heads, but it's nice."
Leopold said a number of former teammates have reached out since the letter came out. For those who have switched teams and have children at home, the letter stuck a chord.
"It is what it is, it's a good story and I'm happy the media spun it the right way because really, in the end, this business is hard on families," Leopold said. "It really is. Myself, with the experiences I've had over the years, it's been crazy.
"It's not one of those things that people really see. The kids do suffer. Our wives definitely live a tough life at times. We aren't asking for any sympathy. I can tell you that. It comes with the territory and we signed up for this. I chose to have kids at a young age."
Leopold asked his daughter if she wanted to meet the media Tuesday, but said she chose to go to school. It was probably a good thing; with the large Ottawa media contingent in town, there were several more cameras than usual.
"We talked about it a little bit. She's pretty shy. Like anyone who has kids (knows), your kids can say some pretty funny things and do some pretty funny things," Leopold said. "It's just a matter of if she wants to talk. I'm not going to force her on anything. It's special the way it is and I'll leave it at that. If she wants to talk in the future, we'll make arrangements for it and go from there."