Nick Leddy became the first Minnesota-born player to win a state championship, Mr. Hockey, a Stanley Cup and play in 1,000 NHL games. PHOTOS BY JACKSON BOLINE

Nick Leddy becomes a Minnesota first after reaching 1,000-game milestone

by Jackson Boline

Former Eden Prairie native and Mr. Hockey recipient Nick Leddy reached a massive milestone on Saturday for the Blues when they traveled to  Minnesota. The veteran defenseman skated in his 1,000th career NHL game in the same arena he won a state championship in 2009. Leddy becomes just the 14th Minnesota-born player to reach that feat and  joins the likes of Phil Housley, Mike Ramsey, and Blake Wheeler as the only Minnesota-born players to reach the milestone in 14 seasons or less. In addition, he is the 395th NHL player to reach 1,000 games and is only the 105th player who completed the impressive feat before his 34th birthday.

Nick Leddy was surprised with a stone statue in the shape of the Stanley Cup.

While other Minnesota-born players have reached the 1,000-game milestone. Leddy is in a class of his own as the lone Minnesotan to play in 1,000 NHL games after also winning a state championship, a Mr. Hockey Award, and a Stanley Cup. 

“It’s amazing, I’m not sure how else to describe it,” said Leddy. 

The Blues defeated the Wild in overtime 5-4 in a game of two teams fighting for a playoff spot, but there was more to play for than just the win.

“It was an important and emotional game, I’m happy we got the win, but it was special,” Leddy said. 

Following the game, there was a celebration at a local bar to honor Leddy’s accomplishment. Family, friends, and former teammates of Leddy joined in the gathering at McGoverns Pub. 

“Everyone in this room has contributed and helped me every step of the way. I thank them for everything that they’ve done,” said Leddy.

Leddy’s father Mike has been one of his biggest supporters, but he also played a large part in the young hockey career of Nick Leddy. 

“We had a rink in our backyard, and he started skating there, and took lessons out there. I also was able to coach him up until Squirts,” said Mike Leddy. 

Leddy was always hockey first, but he was a three-sport athlete. So his childhood was filled with sports and staying active.

“We were always on the go, just like every hockey parent. He played travel football and baseball along with hockey, which I think was huge for his development,” said Mike Leddy.

Leddy, 33, led Eden Prairie to a High School State Championship in 2009 when the defenseman scored three goals and one assist in the Eagles’ program’s first run to the title.  Leddy was awarded the prestigious Mr. Hockey award following a senior season where he scored 12-33-45 for the Eagles. He completed his career with 91 points, a record for an Eden Prairie defenseman. The other 10 Mr. Hockey finalists in 2009 were Dan DeLisle or Totino-Grace, Marshal Everson of Edina, Ben Hanowski of Little Falls, Tyler Lapic of New Prague, Anders Lee of Edina, Danny Mattson of Academy of Holy Angels, Zach Palmquist of South St. Paul, Tyler Pitlick of Centennial, and Max Tardy of Duluth East.

The veteran defenseman was drafted with the 16th pick of the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry draft by his hometown team the Minnesota Wild, but was later traded to the Chicago Blackhawks before ever playing for the Wild. Leddy was in the midst of his first season at the University of Minnesota when he was moved.

“I was young and didn’t understand the business side of it at the time, but you talk about fate and things happening for a reason, and I think it worked out,” said Leddy.

Leddy’s NHL rights were traded in exchange for Cam Barker. Barker lasted just 71 games across two seasons before the Wild moved on from him. He scored just two goals and 12 points for the Wild. 

“I was shocked, but they had their reasons for the trade. I don’t think it’s viewed as a good trade,” Mike Leddy said with a smile on his face. 

Leddy tallied one assist in his 1,000th game.

Leddy played just one season for the Golden Gophers scoring 3-8-11 in 30 games as a freshman. In the summer of 2010, Leddy signed his entry-level contract to play for the Blackhawks in the NHL. Four years after winning a state title for Eden Prairie, Leddy hoisted the Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks. The Minnesota native played in 48 games during the regular season, totaling 6-12-18 for Chicago. Just 21 years old, he played 23 total games in the postseason, including all six Stanley Cup Final games against the Boston Bruins. Leddy tallied two assists in the Blackhawks’ quest for the cup.

“When Nick was growing up, I was one of those parents who thought my kid was going to the NHL ever since he was in youth hockey, so to see him win the Stanley Cup, it was incredible,” said Mike. 

Leddy has been a staple top-four defenseman on all four teams he’s played on. He’s known for his defensive-first mindset, but his puck-moving ability has kept him one of the league’s most reliable players. In 1,000 NHL games, he has 73 goals and 335 assists for 408 career points.

“I’m just really proud of him, he’s not just a really good hockey player, he’s a good person,” said Mike Leddy. 

Leddy is known as a very humble person who is caring and respectful. He has earned respect from players on each team he’s been a part of. This showed on Saturday when multiple teammates mentioned they were happy to get the win for him and it was extra motivation. 

“Leddy is just so humble and kind, as most hockey players are, but he treats everything as a blessing. His accomplishment is so special and it’s not easy to do,” said Michael Reilly Sr, father of New York Islanders defenseman Mike Reilly.

Leddy’s incredible hockey resume has him engraved as one of the best Minnesota-born players ever. Many who watched Leddy in High School and beyond could see what his future had in store, but each accomplishment was just the next goal for him.

“It’s all been steps, when you’re in high school, you just want to make varsity and win a state championship, then you want to play for your dream college, then play in the NHL,” said Leddy. “I didn’t see any of this coming, but I have my mentors, who I still stay in touch with, and my family and everyone else to thank.”

The St. Louis Blues plan to honor Leddy’s achievement on Monday, March 25 with a pre-game ceremony when they host the Las Vegas Golden Knights. 

Leddy is one of three Blue’s defensemen who hail from Minnesota along with Justin Faulk and Scott Perunovich who is pictured to Leddy’s right.