Jun 5, 2010, 12:00 PM EDT
For some players, it just takes a change of scenery to really unleash
the talent everyone expected them to have. Others, it’s increased
minutes or a different role on the team. For some, it’s both.
For Ville Leino, it has been the postseason.
Traded from the Red Wings to the Flyers in the middle of the season,
Leino scored just two goals in 13 games before the postseason started.
He showed flashes at times for the Flyers, but I doubt that anyone
realized just how good he would be for this team when they needed every
player at their best.
With his seventh goal of the playoffs last night — which turned out
to be the game-winning goal — Leino passed Bryan Propp to break the
franchise record for points by a rookie in the playoffs. Leino has 16
points in 17 games, and has become somewhat of a revelation in
After scoring his goal, one that came off a great effort and a lucky
bounce, the home Flyers crowd stood and roared their appreciation for a
player that was just an afterthought in a mid-season trade. What was great to see was how Leino immediately deflected questions about the record and just wanted to talk about his team’s win.
“It was a special moment,” he said with a grin. “It was a fun game. It was a nice little
moment. I will remember it always. Good win there too. So it was a
just arrive in Philly and set the town on fire, as the Flyers struggled
to find a role for him on the team. For Leino, it was certainly a low
point in his career.
“My confidence was at an all-time low there for a while,” Leino said.
“It was tough when I got here. I didn’t get a chance right away. I
played a few games, and after that I didn’t play again. It was just
tough. Obviously, you go through emotions there and think maybe you
won’t ever get a chance.”
According to the NHL, Leino is
technically considered a rookie. Yet even if he wasn’t, if he was just a
castoff from the Red Wings as he struggled at 26 years old to find his
place in the NHL, his resurgence in the postseason would still be just
He was knocked around a bit by Brian Campbell in
the game and had to leave, and immediately Flyers fans were worried
about their team’s chances. Leino has become a vital part of this Flyers
team and his confidence soars with each game. You can see it in his
eyes; this is a man that is having the time of his life out on the ice.
That’s not what was happening just a few months ago.
what happens when your team is confident in you. Right now, that
confidence is at an all-time high for Ville Leino.
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