Here is a mini-bio to whet your whistle:
Brad Leeb was born August 27th, 1979 in Red Deer, Alberta. After working up the ranks of the minor and junior hockey world, he was selected to the 1999 edition of Team Canada for the World Junior Hockey Championships.
Since then, he’s gone undrafted by the NHL and signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks (4 games) before being dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs (1 game). While spending most of his time in the American Hockey League, Brad grew into a seasoned player and now plays for the Nürnburg Ice Tigers of the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga).
There, he lives with with his wife Emily and has one son while making a living playing with his brother Greg in hockey mad Germany (sorta).
So without further ado, my twitterview with former Vancouver Canuck Brad Leeb.
JH: Growing up in Red Deer, Alberta, was hockey an easy thing to become involved in? Were you the cream of the crop in minor hockey?
BL: Yes, everyone played hockey in my hometown growing up. The outdoor rinks made it easy to get ice time. There were a lot of talented players.
JH: Who were your hockey idols growing up?
BL: I grew up during the Oiler glory days so I idolized Gretzky. I wanted to play in the NHL & be a pro hockey player as long as I can remember.
JH: So I can assume the Flames were hated?
BL: Yep. I was never a Flames fan growing up. Always cheered for the Oilers & The City Of Champions!
Forever A Canuck
JH: Most people won’t remember you as a Canuck, so tell us what type of player you are and one current NHL’er you are comparable to.
BL: They Won’t?!?
JH: Well I hate to be a dink here…
BL: Ha Ha just kidding…
My 1st game as a Canuck was in ’99, so yes it was a long time ago. I would say I was/am like the Sedins (but not as skilled), like Kesler (but not as fast), & like Bieksa (but not as tough).
In all honesty…maybe similar to a Mason Raymond; good skater & can contribute to the offense.
JH: I’m guessing a Raymond sans the trade rumours. @parlay31 on Twitter wants to know which line you play on for the Ice Tigers.
BL: Maybe with the trade rumours…The Canucks did end up trading me to the Maple Leafs in 2002. My Ice Tiger lines have been changing a lot this season but I did enjoy playing on the same line as brother Greg for 3 seasons leading up to this year.
JH: Since you bring up the trade to Toronto, do you know who you were traded for?
BL: I was traded for Tomas Mojzis.
JH: Indeed you were. Good job. So you and your bro; any telepathic Sedin-like abilities on the ice?
BL: No. We don’t have the telepathic identical twin thing going… but we complement each other well. My brother Greg is a great playmaker & I am the shooter.
JH: Interesting. We’ll get back to Germany & Greg, but I want to know what it was like playing in the 1999 WJHC. Who were your favourite players to play with?
BL: The World Junior Championships in Winnipeg was one of the best hockey experiences I have ever had. I was on a line with Brenden Morrow & Simon Gagne.
Great skilled players… & the best game we had was a record setting game VS Kazakhstan. (Canada won 12-2 to advance to the Semi-Finals)
JH: Damn, that is a sick line I must say. So where do you keep your silver medal?
BL: It is actually stored away right now with a lot of my other hockey memories, including every team jersey that I have ever worn.
I plan to display all my hockey memories in my house when I am done playing.
JH: A hockey getaway at home; every man’s dream. So that year you played your first game with the Canucks after being signed as a free agent; was Vancouver your only choice in free agency?
BL: There were a few teams that expressed interest but it came down to the Canucks & the Kings.
JH: Can you tell the readers what your first NHL game was like?
BL: It was against the Colorado Avalanche. Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg & Patrick Roy was in net. The game was exactly how you would imagine; surreal & exciting, with a lot of adrenaline & nerves.
JH: Which guys took you under their wing while you were with the Canucks and/or the Moose?
BL: I remember Jason Strudwick was great with us younger guys. Trevor Linden was a class act. Also when veteran Trent Klatt was up & down between the Canucks & Moose, he was always a true professional.
JH: Was Marc Crawford a good coach to you? Where would you rank him on a list of all the coaches you’ve had?
BL: Marc Crawford was always good to me. He’s a knowledgeable coach. I like hearing what he has to say on TSN. He would rank up there with Paul Maurice & Tom Renney as quality coaches I have had. I have a lot of respect for Stan Smyl. He coached a lot of young players in the minors & we all grew together. He is a quality person.
Hockey in Europe
JH: You play in Germany now for the Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers Nurnberg. Do you know who or what Thomas Sabo is?
BL: Yes Thomas Sabo is very involved with the hockey team.
JH: You know he owns a jewelry company?
BL: Yes. His stores all over the world do very, very well.
JH: Your league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, is the top league in Germany and boasts the most North American players outside North America. Did that make the transition easier to life in Germany?
BL: Yes there are lot of players in the DEL that have played in the NHL & AHL.
So there is an element of North American style hockey.
JH: You wore #38 as a Canuck and still do in Germany. What significance does that number carry for you?
BL: My parents were always involved in sports when I was young. My Mom always wore #3 & my Dad always wore #8
JH: Very clever; so tell me what the fans are like in Germany?
BL: Most are loyal. Some are bandwagon fans. All are emotional & passionate.
JH: Sounds slightly like Vancouver. Have you taken part in any Oktoberfest celebrations? Do you prefer Canadian or German beer?
BL: Yeah, I have been to Oktoberfest a few times. Good time… but if you want to go, remember it starts in September. No question, I prefer Canadian Beer all the way.
JH: Hahaha as Don Cherry would say: Good Canadian kid. Have you learned much German?
BL: Not a lot…just enough to order a beer.
JH: “Q” tells me the off-season training isn’t quite the same there as it is for the NHL…do tell.
BL: My off season is spent back in Canada… but the training camp is different here. It is a lot longer. 6 weeks compared to 6 days in the NHL.
JH: Holy crap. Okay, one more question about Germany and I want to get into said off-season in Canada. Any crazy bus stories?
BL: Funny you ask that question… I have a crazy, stupid, unprofessional, overreaction, absolute joke bus story that happened last week. But I have to take the high road on that story right now… ask me after the season is over.
Off-Season, BetOnHockey & Randomness
JH: Aw damn. Ok Ok, I will ask you after the season is over…and hopefully I can share with my tweeps. But tell me about your off-season. I understand you spend a good chunk of time on Vancouver Island.
BL: Yes I am on Vancouver Island a lot. My wife & I enjoy the ‘Lake Life’ lifestyle out there. We plan on settling there eventually.
JH: Do you enjoy the fishing or golfing on Vancouver Island?
BL: I like to golf in the summer, but we spend most of our time on & around the lake.
JH: Biggest fish you’ve ever caught in the area?
BL: No fish… ‘Lake Life’ to us is boating, wake boarding, swimming, house boating or just hanging out on the dock.
JH: Okay, so you’ve also created a special website for sports fans. Tell the readers whatever you want about it and how they can get involved.
BL: Well I have always loved sports betting, specifically betting on hockey. I have been playing hockey since I was 6 & playing pro for 13 years. I have been around a lot of teams & have a lot of experience in the game.
To combine this I created a website that combines Pro Hockey Players & Pro Handicappers sharing prediction picks on NHL hockey games. Pro hockey players have ‘Been there; Done that’ & they have a lot of inside knowledge/insight around the game.
If you want to bet on hockey games, why not take the advice from guys that have been there & understand the game!
JH: Very good point; I’ll post a link at the bottom for people to check it out.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former Canuck or Leaf teammates?
BL: Don’t keep in touch with a lot of guys during the hockey season, but whenever I see guys in the offseason, it is always as if you pick up right where you left off.
JH: You turn 33 this August; Where do you see yourself 10 years from now.
BL: Living on Vancouver Island enjoying life with my family & still involved with the great game of hockey somehow.
JH: Can you envision you and your brother ever coaching together? Team Leeb?
BL: I have never even thought of the possibility of that before; you never know.
JH: Could be a dynasty How special was it for you to play Junior for the Rebels in Red Deer? You partook in a reunion type thing with @ARMDOG (Colby Armstrong)?
BL: Yes I was fortunate to play with my hometown Red Deer Rebels team. It was great playing in front of family & friends every night.
There have been a lot of talented players to come out of the Rebels hockey program & last summer was the 1st ever Rebels reunion.
JH: Your twitter avatar is of you in a Blackhawks hat and t-shirt; can you explain?
BL: I train with Brent Seabrook & Troy Brouwer at Excel Fitness in Vancouver. The pic was right before Seabrook’s Stanley Cup party in 2010!
JH: Oh goodness, you may have just brought back some bad memories for Canucks fans. What is your take on headshots and concussions? Are they an issue in the DEL at all like the NHL?
BL: May be hard for Canucks fans… but remember Seabrook & Brouwer are BC boys!
JH: Oh we know. But so is Milan Lucic.
BL: Headshots & concussions are an ongoing topic that is hard to discuss in 140 characters or less. The game continually evolves & changes. You have to change & adjust with it. Getting headshots out of the game is a good thing but you have to analyze & take your time with how you do it. Making rash or quick decisions with rules could take away from the game.
I know that I like hitting in the game, I like fighting in the game & I would not want Brendan Shanahan’s job.
JH: One last question Brad; where do your predictions have the Canucks finishing this season? How far can they go in your opinion?
BL: The Canucks have the team & experience to go back to the Cup finals, but with any team they need to be playing well, have some luck & stay healthy.
JH: Alright man, I appreciate this so much. Now get to bed and you can blame the idiot reporter in Vancouver if you play like crap tomorrow. LOL
BL: It’s all good. Thank you very much.
If you missed my twitterview with Canucks/Wolves Goalie Eddie Lack check it out here: Twitterview with Eddie Lack