Not many people have managed to play professional hockey for 17 years, but Cody McLeod made it clear that he’s no regular person. While never the flashiest player or goal-scorer, he sure made the most of every chance he got to impress throughout his years in the National Hockey League, especially in his tenure with the Colorado Avalanche.
The Canadian had to work his way up in the ranks of professional hockey, becoming one of the most renowned undrafted players in recent National Hockey League history and playing for the Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and New York Rangers.
McLeod was taken in the fourth round of the 1999 WHL Bantam Draft pick, spending four years with the Portland Winterhawks. He wasn’t drafted in the NHL, so he walked on to the Boston Bruins’ training camp to try and make the pros, but he couldn’t get a deal after a brief stint with their AHL Affiliate.
He later signed with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters for one season, also spending plenty of time with their ECHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. Notably, he turned plenty of heads within the Colorado Avalanche organization, which was the parent club of the Monsters, so he earned his very first NHL contract. He was later sent to the Albany River Rats before getting his first call-up and his luck finally turned around.
McLeod instantly became a fan favorite thanks to his physicality and strong play, becoming the first rookie player in franchise history to get over 100 penalty minutes.
He also became a stalwart and made the rounds after throwing the Detroit Red Wings octopus into the stands and then scoring his first career playoff goal against them, earning another one-year contract with the organization.
McLeod continued to be a leader both in the locker room and on the ice, earning a three-year pact with the Avalanche midway through the 2009 season and then extending that pact for another three years at the end of that deal and even becoming their alternate captain.
Then in 2017, as he aged and the team was shifting in a different direction, McLeod’s playing time diminished, and he was later traded to the Nashville Predators after being the franchise’s all-time leader in PIMs (1,359). His tenure with the Predators was shortlived and unimpressive, so he was waived and then picked off by the New York Rangers.
McLeod finished the year in New York and signed another contract in the offseason, but he was traded back to Nashville after suffering a hand injury, putting an end to his NHL career. The Minnesota Wild signed him to an AHL deal and he was sent to the Iowa Wild for the final three years of his career, serving mostly as a mentor.
Nonetheless, he is one of the best hockey players to have played in the Iowa Wild. You can find here the complete list of all-time best hockey players from Iowa: https://clutchbuzz.clutchbet.com/nhl/best-nhl-players-from-iowa/
Now, McLeod is serving as the Minnesota Wild’s development coach, trying to help the young players bring out the best of themselves and staying close to the game that gave him everything he’s got:
“I definitely wanted to stay in the game,” McLeod said when he announced his retirement. “And I’m going to definitely miss playing it. But like I said, I want to stay in the game and this kind of came together pretty quickly after our season in Iowa. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“When I started to get older when I was playing in the NHL, and you see the young guys come in and you just do whatever you can to help the young guys. As you get older, you don’t play as much and you still got to do your job. I was never a big goal scorer or anything, but I always showed up to work. And then Iowa gave me a chance and I knew that was kind of my role there and I wanted to just keep playing and help the young guys. Minnesota’s giving me that chance,” he added “So I want to make sure I can make the most of it.”
Hopefully, his pupils won’t spend that much time in the penalty box, though.