1-on-1 with John Leonard

Tucson Roadrunners Forward John Leonard joined Adrian Denny, Kim Cota-Robles and Arizona Daily Star Sports Editor Brett Fera this week on Roadrunners Happy Hour. Catch Happy Hour every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Fox Sports 1450 AM and the Roadrunners Happy Hour Podcast on the iHeartRadio app. For the complete episode, and to hear about John’s jack rabbit sighting in the Arizona desert, download below.

Listen to “Lenny Lighting Joins The Show” on Spreaker.

Q: What was the process during the offseason of ending up with the Coyotes organization and getting to work here?

It’s been awesome and obviously I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. It was my first time going through the free agency process and they were one of the first couple of teams to kind of jump out. The opportunity was great, and everyone on the staff and in the organization have been awesome. I’m really grateful and happy to be here. And we’ve got a good team.

Q: We are looking to have some playoff weather for a long time. Are you looking forward to that?

It’s something we’re all looking forward to, obviously. At the same time, we don’t want to jump too far ahead. We still have 25 games left or so to set ourselves up to hopefully get home ice and go from there; so, we’re looking forward to it.

Q: Can you tell us about your college hockey experience a little bit? It seems like college hockey is becoming a more standard route for NHL caliber players.

UMass was a school I always wanted to go to. My dad was an assistant basketball coach there in the early 2000s. That was when I was a young kid. It’s funny, because no one in my family had ever played hockey: grandparents, cousins, uncles, or anything. Obviously, like I said, I come from a basketball family. It’s funny how things work out and how you get into hockey. I ended up just always being around the rink watching my dad coach there and stuff. So UMass is the place I always wanted to go, and I really had fun and am grateful for three years there. I still keep in touch with all those guys for sure.

Q: How does someone who grew up on the east coast acclimate to having a career on the west coast? Can you talk about that change in scenery for you?

It’s been awesome. You can’t get enough of the weather. I’m really happy to be here and wake up every day and throw on a pair of shorts. It’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of things to do around here in the awesome weather.

Q: You made your NHL debut a few years ago. When Matty Villalta got the call did you have any words of advice for him?

It was right before practice a couple of days ago that we found out that he was going up. Obviously we were super pumped for him. Obviously he’s been an extremely important piece for our team this year and the backbone of our team thus far. Him and Wellesley (Dylan Wells) have done such a great job for us and we’re extremely happy for him and he’s doing great things.

Q: A good chunk of your games are at home for the rest of the season. Do you guys feel like you have a home ice advantage? Do you feel like you’re ready to kick it into a playoff gear?

There’s I think about 20 or 25 games left of the regular season. Obviously, after that all-star break is when games start to get a lot more playoff like and teams are kind of starting to kick into gear for that. We have a lot a lot of fun and take a lot of pride in playing in front of our home crowd. And I’ve noticed, as the year has gone on, the crowds have gotten better and better. So, it’s a lot of fun to see. Hopefully we can keep that trend going and play well in front of them.

Q: Are you excited for Taylor Swift Night on Friday? Do you know any Taylor Swift songs?

Yeah, I know a couple of her songs. She’s obviously very famous and has a couple of good tunes. So yeah, I’m looking forward to it.