Reggie Leach and the quest for recognition

April 17, 2013 — Leave a comment
ReggieLeach

Reggie Leach’s 19 goals during the 1975-76 playoffs is a record that still stands today. (Image courtesy Shoot To Score Hockey)

Reggie Leach has the statistics and the hardware, but a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame still eludes him. That could change on July 9.

Leach, now 62 and far from his playing days, said he doesn’t think about induction into the Hall of Fame, but his son Jamie believes otherwise.

“I think it would mean the world to him,” said the younger Leach. “I know [the Hall] is probably one of his goals he set for himself. He’s spoken openly that it has been a goal of his, and, I think, if he could do it all again, he would do some things differently.”

Jamie, 43 and a former NHLer in his own right, is referring to Reggie’s past of alcohol abuse, which is a topic Reggie speaks to youth about at his Shoot To Score hockey camps.

“I like to talk to the kids about life choices,” said Reggie. “I’m not an expert, but I tell the kids what I think is important, and I think talking to them about choices they make is important.”

Reggie, a Stanley Cup champion and winner of the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP, may have gone unrecognized by the Hall of Fame’s selection committee thus far, but Winnipeg singer-songwriter John K. Samson is trying to see his hometown hero have his name called.

Samson, who was not available for comment, released a song on his latest album Provincial dedicated to Leach. In fact, the song’s title is a link to an online petition – the very petition that Samson submitted on Feb. 23 in hopes of the Hall recognizing a boyhood idol.

“We’ve received a few petitions this year,” said the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Kelly Masse. “[Samson’s] submission – the singing outside the Hall of Fame – was interesting and unique.”

Leach said he first became aware of the song during CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada, when Samson performed it on stage in Whitehorse, YT.

“I didn’t even know who he was,” said Leach. “There was a big concert, and he sang the song and talked about the people in Riverton. He came down the stairs (after his performance) and I saw him. He researched everything. The song is really, really good.”

As the song touches on, Reggie comes from a lower class upbringing. One of the more powerful lines in the song comes when Samson explains how Leach played on borrowed skates until the age of 14.

“I think telling people about my background is important,” said Reggie. “It doesn’t matter how big a community is, all it takes is hard work. You don’t have to be rich to make it.”

Whether or not Reggie makes it into the Hall of Fame come July 9, he said he’s prouder of the work he’s doing now than he is of any statistic or award he received during his playing days. However, he still shows his appreciation for Samson and the over 3,000 people who’ve signed the petition.

“There have been a few groups trying to get me in,” said Reggie. “These people doing that, those who have signed the petitions, those are the people who are my Hall of Famers.”

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