BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Nick Leddy watched on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks hoisted another Stanley Cup banner at the United Center.
As much as the New York Islanders defenseman would love to hoist another Cup again himself, as he did with the Blackhawks in 2013, he was happy to see some of his former teammates do so again.
“It was excitement for all my buddies and seeing them win again was incredible,” said Leddy, who will face the Blackhawks in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday. “They have such a great hockey team there, a great organization. I couldn’t ask for anything more for them.”
The Islanders are looking to reach that point again with their franchise, and have made players like Leddy cornerstones of their resurgence. Leddy, who signed a seven-year, $38.5 million contract in February, is part of an Islanders team looking to build off last year’s postseason appearance.
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“I think it’s like in Chicago: it’s a very experienced team,” Leddy said of the Islanders. “You go through ups and downs and you get used to the playoffs and not a lot of guys have been through the playoffs. The guys from last year finally have, and they kind of know what to expect.”
Leddy didn’t get a chance to catch up with any of his former teammates on Thursday night but his close friend Andrew Shaw joked that he’s ready to reacquaint himself with Leddy at Friday's game.
“If I get a chance to run him in the corner, for sure I’ll do so,” Shaw said with a grin. “[We talk] a couple of times a month, just asking how each other is, how the families are doing, stuff like that. We came up together and we were roommates for a few years, so that bond won’t be broken. But once that puck drops, it’s hockey.”
Leddy didn’t play at the United Center when the Islanders were there last season; he skated with the team, but an upper-body injury kept him out of the game. So Saturday will mark the first time he’s played at the UC since Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings in the spring of 2014. Leddy said could be an emotional night.
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“It’ll be very exciting. It’s always exciting playing against all your buddies. But obviously it’ll be a little nerve-wracking being out there for the first time [since the trade],” he said. “I think once I get out there and get that first shift under the belt, all the nerves will calm down and I’ll be able to go from there.”
On Thursday night, Leddy and teammate Brock Nelson flipped the switch for a ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building, which displayed the Islanders’ blue and orange colors. That ceremony was a great way to start the Islanders’ latest campaign in their new home. The Blackhawks’ banner-raising ceremony is the one that Leddy hopes to experience with his Islanders teammates soon.
“It definitely motivates you,” said Leddy. “Going through it once, you want to relieve that. Seeing it definitely makes you a little jealous and definitely motivated."