It was the NHL Trade Deadline story which won social media.
Back in January, Jordan Leopold’s daughter wrote a pleading letter to the Minnesota Wild asking them to trade for her father so he could return to his family in his home state.
His wife, Jamie, took a picture of the hand printed note and posted it on her Facebook page. She didn’t think much of it until Monday afternoon.
That’s when 11-year-old Jordyn Leopold’s letter went viral and her wish came true.
“Well my dad is very lonely without his family. We are living in Minnesota right now and I am lost without my dad,” the letter said.
“It has been since November and we can not take it anymore. Well to get to the point the Wild have not been winning games an you lovely coaches are most likely mad about that but your team needs some more D men so can you please, please, please ask the Jackets if you guys can get him?”
And so it was that the Columbus Blue Jackets traded Leopold to the Wild for Justin Falk and a fifth-round draft pick.
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen posted the letter on Twitter with the comment, “It isn’t always just about business.”
“I was a little nervous … because we really liked Columbus and we had such a good experience there and didn’t want anyone to feel bad,” Jamie Leopold said on KFAN Sports Radio in Minneapolis about the letter. “But my daughter just wanted her daddy home.”
When your business is professional hockey, family life becomes a challenging balance. Especially for a journeyman like Leopold whose career has taken him to seven different NHL cities. Through 677 games with Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, St. Louis and Columbus he has 67 goals and 213 points.
“It’s been pretty hard. Jordan’s my best friend so that part has been really hard,” Jamie Leopold said. “I’ve had three babies kind of off on my own and he missed one of the births. I’m usually staying in Minnesota and he has to come travel home. Or I was in Buffalo. I had one of the babies in Buffalo. It’s just been a little bit difficult at times. Very lonely.
“Everyone doesn’t completely understand because a lot of times I’ll get questions from family, ‘Oh of course Jordan was there, right?’ No. He had a game. He doesn’t get to just miss things. Yeah, it’s been a little bit difficult but we’ve been really lucky. We’ve been in some great cities and I really enjoyed almost the whole ride.”
The ride now continues back home in Minnesota where Leopold is expected to dress for the Wild’s game against Ottawa on Tuesday night.
A native of Golden Valley, Minn., Leopold played four seasons for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He was captain his senior season, notching 20 goals and 48 points as the Gophers won the national championship. He won the Hobey Baker and started his pro career the next season with Calgary.
Thirteen years later, he’s back in Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent to help bolster a Wild defense which is dealing with injuries and youth.
“We weren’t sure if the Wild even had room or were wanting to get him,” Jamie Leopold said. “We’ve always wanted to be in Minnesota but we thought maybe at the end of his career and it’s kind of that time. We’re really excited.”
Leopold has been through deadline day trades before. He played with the Sabres in 2010-11 (35 points in 71 games) and 2011-12 (24 points in 79 games). He then was dealt near the NHL deadline in 2013, sent to St. Louis for a pair of draft picks which the Sabre parlayed into prospects Justin Bailey and Anthony Florentino.