Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy has some additional motivation for the start of this season.
After being invited to his first U.S. Olympic orientation camp last month, Leddy wants a spot on that team and will need to play well over the first three months of the season to get one.
“I think it’s every kid’s dream to play for your country, and obviously that’s mine, Leddy said. “It’s something I’m trying to reach.
“It was good to go to the camp, meeting some new guys, new faces around the league. It was a good experience.”
Leddy was there with teammates Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad. While Kane has no worries about making the American Olympic team, Saad is in the same boat as Leddy and needs a fast start to the season.
Leddy, starting his fourth year with the Hawks, has had a strong training camp so far and hopes to carry that right into the regular season.
“It’s my fourth year now and it flew by,” Leddy said. “I feel more and more comfortable every year.
“You learn a lot of things by watching guys like Duncs (Duncan Keith) and Seabs (Brent Seabrook), like getting up on guys quick,” Leddy said. “You watch Duncs and he’s so good at that. He’ll be on guys quick and make them make a mistake and make a decision a little quicker than they’d like to.”
Leddy got off to a good start last season but lost ice time as the playoffs progressed. By the time the Final against Boston rolled around, he was getting fewer than eight minutes a game.
He played only 2:37 on four shifts in Game 4, 6:53 on nine shifts in Game 5 and 3:25 on five shifts in the clinching Game 6.
“Last year he got off to a real good start with our team and was a big part to our start to the season with that speed and quickness,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s a young kid that we expect to keep improving both offensively and defensively.
“I think he showed he’s ready to take another step. He can contribute in a lot of ways, so let’s go and move forward. We expect him to be playing regular minutes and even expand on that this year with a good start.”
Leddy doesn’t want to dwell on how last season finished for him personally, because the Hawks did win the Stanley Cup.
“I think you can always keep learning and getting better,” he said. “That’s what everyone is trying to do and that’s something I want to do for however long I keep playing.
“Obviously, it’s motivational (how last season ended), but I think at the time I just had to be patient and control what I could control and go from there. The team was winning and that always comes first.”
Leddy wants to be more of a force on offense and be a key guy on the power play.
“Use my shot more, yes, because that creates a lot of offense,” he said. “You look at some of the goals in the playoffs and that’s where a lot of them came from.
“A shot from the point, rebound, goal, so it definitely helps with the offense and something I should definitely improve.”
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