Back in 1991, the San Jose Sharks made their National Hockey League debut. Most long-time Sharks fans remember that the team lost their first game in Vancouver, 4-3. But in that game, a young Pat MacLeod made his mark by scoring two goals, including the first-ever goal by a Sharks defenseman.
“The whole experience of being in a new organization was thrilling,” MacLeod said. “Every time we would step out onto the ice in that first couple of years, it was electric and the reception from the fans was amazing.”
These days, MacLeod is making his mark with a pen and paintbrush.
The former blueliner recently authored and illustrated an enchanting children’s book, “The Dragon and Me.” The humorous story is about a young boy who encounters a dragon at his campfire. The boy offers him a snack and quickly discovers that roasting marshmallows can be tricky with the help of a fire-breathing dragon.
A family man, MacLeod credits his two sets of twins for inspiring him to create a children’s book. While his children are older now, he said the story has been in the making for years.
“I wrote the first draft many years ago,” MacLeod said. “I had always dabbled in things like drawing and painting and always really enjoyed reading to the kids. One day when they were smaller, the idea just kind of popped into my head and I went from there.”
Written in rhyme, MacLeod hopes “The Dragon and Me” will help make reading an enjoyable experience for kids.
“I always liked the Dr. Seuss-type books when I was little myself and also while reading to my own kids,” MacLeod said. “I wanted to make it fun to read. Personally, I like the rhyming books.”
The dragon character in the story is also something MacLeod can trace back to his youth and his experience raising his own children.
“As a child, I always enjoyed stories that involved mythical things,” MacLeod said. “Also, when one of my girls was little she really enjoyed alligators and things like that so it just kind of flowed from there. But it is definitely a recurring character because another story I wrote is loosely based on the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and it’s called ‘A Night at the Dragon Disco.’”
While “The Dragon and Me” is the first book MacLeod has published, he said it’s one of several stories he’s created and been waiting to share, including one that features the dragon playing hockey. MacLeod said he’d love to publish a children’s story based on hockey as he has obviously always had a love for the sport.
"Hockey is such a great sport that the more I can do to promote its growth the better,” MacLeod said.
Born and raised in Melfort, Saskatchewan, MacLeod played two seasons in the Western Hockey League before being selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the fifth round (87th overall) of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. After appearing in one game with Minnesota, he was claimed by the Sharks in the 1991 NHL Dispersal Draft. During that first year in San Jose, he recorded 16 points in 37 games.
MacLeod spent the rest of his 11-year hockey career bouncing around in the minor leagues. He was named to the International Hockey League’s second all-star team after helping the Kansas City Blades win the Turner Cup during the 1991-92 season and was named to the IHL’s first all-star team after recording 21 goals and 73 points in 1994 for the Milwaukee Admirals.
After appearing in a couple of games for the Dallas Stars in 1995-96, MacLeod returned to the IHL where he recorded 55 points in 78 games for the Cincinnati Cyclones. He played two more years in the minors before retiring in 2000.
Throughout his career, MacLeod was not only recognized for his hard work on the ice but was also honored for his commitment to the local community.
He received the IHL’s Man of the Year Award in 1999 as well as the Cincinnati Cyclones March of Dimes Player of the Year Award two years in a row for his community service efforts. MacLeod said his time spent volunteering at schools helped influence him to publish his stories.
“Throughout my whole career, I really enjoyed going to various schools wherever I happened to be,” MacLeod said. “I’d walk into a gymnasium and have an hour to talk about reading to a group of up to 500 kids. I’d sometimes read a basic version of ‘The Dragon and Me’ to them and it was always well received.”
MacLeod currently resides with his family in Cincinnati where he teaches kids the fundamentals of hockey through local learn-to-play and learn-to-skate programs. He also uses his professional expertise to help coach a local high school hockey team in addition to giving numerous private lessons.
“The Dragon and Me” is currently available for purchase online at www.amazon.com
or directly from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3416766