It appears the Caps have dipped into their alumni pool once again. Mike Vogel, the team's senior writer, announced in his blog today that Brett Leonhardt, former web producervideo gurucohost of Pre Capman 2 in Two Man AdvantageDJback up goalie, will rejoin the team for the 2012-13 season as a video coach.
Leonhardt (AKA Stretch) will work with assistant coach Blaine Forsythe, who started his career with the Capitals as video coach in the 2006-07 season. Leonhardt worked in the Caps' front office from 2007-2011 before leaving the team and the world of online video entertainment to work in the NHL's hockey operations department in Toronto.
During his time in Washington, Leonhardt became a folk hero among Caps fans when the former NCAA goalie and occasional practice netminder inked a one-day contract in 2008. On December 13, Leonhardt played (sat) backup to then Caps goaltender Brent Johnson while the goalie formerly known as Simeon Varlamov rushed down from Hershey. The 6-foot-7, 26-year-old "Web guy" became a legend that fateful night and soon after Leonhardt jerseys began popping up throughout the Verizon center (sales that can partially be attributed to Leonhardt himself).
Less than a month after Stretch's day of infamy, I had the great pleasure of finding myself sitting in a cubicle next to number 80 as I began a graduate fellowship in the Caps' Web department. Stretch excelled at everything and was incredibly meticulous in his work, no matter how small or large the task. I feel privileged to have learned from someone as passionate and knowledgeable about the game as Leonhardt.
So on this day of welcoming him back to Kettler, I'll share my favorite Stretch moment with you all.
It was about a month or so into his retirement and Stretch continued to bask in the glory of his ten-minute backup career. While following Brett with video equipment through the concourse of the Verizon Center we would frequently be stopped so he could shake hands, kiss babies, sign Leonhardt jerseys and take photos with his adoring fans. Every local outlet wanted to interview him. He'd bought numerous replicas of his own jersey to give to friends and family for the holidays, and kept his original hanging and readily visible in front of his cubicle (he would later find a mannequin to use for display). The PR staff decided he needed to be taken down a peg.
One afternoon Leonhardt received a mysterious call from a lady claiming to be a producer at ESPN. She said that the big guys in Bristol were interested in casting him in a reality show. She left a random ESPN number and told him to call and ask for "Michelle". Leonhardt bit, hard.
He excitedly approached his bosses in the PR department asking for advise. They encouraged him to call back and find out more, immediately. As Stretch called and pleaded with the very confused and slightly weirded-out man who picked up on the other end at ESPN's headquarters, numerous staffers in the front office gathered around to listen. After several minutes of flustered questioning, Leonhardt looked up to see his coworkers' bemused faces and knew that he'd been duped.
Later, to get the pro-Sparty mastermind of the prank back, I was recruited to help Stretch plaster a certain office in Michigan colors and posters.
So welcome back, Stretch. Here's to your new career in hockey opps. Hopefully time has made you less gullible, and a more creative payback artist.