LEADERSHIP ROLE FOR LEGUE
Posted By Kevin Lajoie - Standard Freeholder
CORNWALL, Ontario --In just two seasons, former Ferris State University men's ice hockey standout Jeff Legue has managed to carve out quite a role for himself with the Sheffield Steelers.
Actually, make that several roles -- go-to guy, fan-favourite, power play pointman, heart-and-soul teammate and all-around nice guy.
Now, Legue's added yet another role to the list: assistant captain.
The 28-year-old Cornwall native and former Colts sniper has been given a leadership role with the English hockey team as they prepare to defend their reign as regular season and playoff champions of the Elite Ice Hockey League, the top hockey circuit in the United Kingdom.
Legue -- or "Leggy" as he's known to teammates and fans -- put his heart and character on display for all to see last season as he returned home at one point to be by the side of his terminally ill father Bill before returning overseas with his father's blessing to help lead the Steelers to the playoff title. Bill passed away just days after the Steelers' championship win.
Steelers coach David Matsos said Legue's drive to play on in an extremely difficult time helped lift the entire team.
"That kind of character is very few and far between in players," Matsos said in a recent interview.
Matsos said it wasn't a difficult decision to give an "A" to Legue given his importance to the team, and he's expecting him to have another solid season following last year's 29-goal, 67-point performance for the Steelers.
"His timing seems very good. His skating seems effortless as always," the coach said of Legue following a recent exhibition game. "I want him (Legue) to look at it now like, 'It's my team.' He's the guy that can make and break games for us. That's how good he is."
With offers rolling in from other parts of Europe earlier this summer, the odds of Legue returning to Sheffield for a third season were anything but a sure thing. But in the end, the bond he's developed with Steelers fans and friends was more than enough to lure the former Ferris State NCAA star back to Sheffield .
"At the end of the day I just couldn't walk away from all of that. I was lucky, I did have the chances to move on to Europe and had some good offers, but the reality is that I'm a Steeler and I'm staying put," Legue said in a recent news release announcing his signing.
Legue's decision was welcomed by Matsos and the rest of the Steelers family.
"The interest from Germany was there, we know he could have gone. We are delighted he hasn't and now Jeff has the chance to become a Steelers legend by winning it all over again," Matsos said.
Added Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips: "The thing with Jeff is that he is still young. I think his best days are still ahead of him and if we can see those days in Sheffield then we are a lucky club. He is the kind of player who can change a game in a blink of an eye."
The Steelers will open their 2009-10 season on Sept. 5 against the Coventry Blaze.
Note - Jeff Legue played four seasons (2001-05) at Ferris State University and amassed 157 career points on 67 goals with 90 assists in 152 games. The 2002-03 All-Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Second-Team selection was chosen as the Bulldogs' Most Valuable Player for the 2004-05 season. He presently is ninth on FSU's all-time scoring leaders list while ranking 11th in career goals and 13th in career assists. Legue played a key role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to their first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance.