As David Leggio
strapped on his skates, he barely had time to appreciate just how far he had come.
After playing a year of hockey overseas, the Williamsville native had made it home to Buffalo – and was about to take part in his first rookie camp as part of the Sabres organization.
“Obviously my main goal is to put on the real [jersey] in some point in my career and play in a real game,” he said. “But it’s definitely an exciting time in my life to just be here and involved in the camp, trying to take advantage of my opportunity.”
Leggio spent the 2009-10 season in Finland with TPS in the country’s most prestigious league, the SM-liiga. While the netminder struggled with consistency during the regular season, he hit his stride in the playoffs with a 1.58 goals against average and .940 save percentage en route to capturing the 2010 Finnish Championship.
Soon after, he received an offer from Buffalo and signed an NHL contract with the Sabres in August. It's not his first professional tryout, however. Shortly after finishing a four-year career at Clarkson University, Leggio also had a brief stint with the Carolina Hurricanes, playing for their ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades. Although signing a deal with the Sabres is bit sweeter as a Western New Yorker.
“It’s been great. A lot of people on Facebook or by text or whatever have been congratulating me and wishing me luck,” Leggio said. “It’s been great to see all of the support from my friends and family, old colleagues from St. Joe’s and stuff like that. It’s overwhelming to see how many people still follow my career and watch to see what I’m doing. It’s been awesome.”
This season he will likely join the Sabres’ Amerian Hockey League affiliate, the Portland Pirates, playing behind goaltender Jhonas Enroth
. There, he wants to readjust to the North American style and learn the speed of the AHL.
“I think over there [in Finland] it’s a lot of work on your hands and using your hands a lot to control rebounds, catch pucks,” he said. “I think I got a little more aggressive than when I was playing in North America, which you can do a little more there because the ice is bigger.
“But now it’s my goal to just get better every day, every time I play, to give the team the best chance to win. Hopefully I’ll be near the top of the League as far as goalies are concerned… I always shoot pretty high and see how it goes.”
For now Leggio is enjoying being a part of his hometown team, and skating at HSBC Arena with the organization’s other prospects. The on-ice sessions begin at 10:30 a.m. and are open to the public through Friday. Veterans report Saturday for PuckDrop festivities. For more information on the event, click here.