Brett Leason’s journey to becoming one of the best players in junior hockey has been well documented. Anyone who follows juniors would know his inspirational story by now.
Leason has been passed over twice in the NHL Draft, only to come back, working harder each offseason. After exploding onto the scene this year for Prince Albert, he was selected to the Canadian World Junior team, was selected to be a part of the Sherwin Williams CHL Prospects game and he is now projected by multiple outlets to be a first round pick in this upcoming draft.
How did Leason get started on this path?
“My dad was an athlete and he wanted me to be an active kid so he put skates on me one day,” Leason said. “I didn’t wanna get off the ice, and that’s really just how it all started. He was always there for me, and he played hockey as well, he was there giving me lessons.”
Leason says his father was very supportive the last two years when he didn’t hear his name called.
“He taught me to never give up, and you never know when your time will come,” Leason said. “He told me to keep playing my game, and fighting through everything and it will all come.”
The 6-foot-2, 19-year-old out of Calgary admits he’s heard the chatter about being passed over twice, but that he’s just focusing on the present.
“Yeah I’ve heard it a lot,” Leason said. “I’m in the groove now though and it’s all going well. It was tough at the start, but my game is coming along.”
But where did this season come from?
“I just worked as hard as I could on and off the ice,” Leason said. “I really focused on gaining a lot of leg strength and agility towards the end of the summer to get that extra step, before the season began.”
Leason mentions Alex Allan, the director of Bold Athlete in Calgary as playing a key role in his training this past summer.
“Alex and I are really close, I’ve known him for about a year now, he’s always been there for me and always helps me to get better.”
With the draft not far away, Leason said he believes that his training isn’t just on the ice however.
“I’m really preparing for it with every interview I do,” Leason said. “I’m getting better and better speaking, it’s getting easier. By the time those come around, I do feel like I’ll be ready for that transition.”
In Vancouver at the World Juniors, Leason finished fourth on Team Canada in scoring with five points, but a whirlwind finish in a loss in the quarterfinals ended their quest for gold in their home country.
Leason allowed that some negativity did arise after the team’s loss to Finland, but he knows that the game of hockey isn’t always kind.
“We were able to stick together as a team throughout the whole thing,” Leason said. “Obviously it’s not the outcome we wanted, hockey is a game of inches. We had some bad bounces and the game didn’t go our way, but there’s really nothing we can do about it now.”
What did Leason learn most from the defeat?
“Teaches you that the game is so close, you have to play every shift so hard, and it’s just tough. You have to play every moment like it’s your last.”
At the Sherwin Williams Prospects game in Red Deer, Leason scored two points and finished with a +2 rating, and told BTS Hockey that being around other top players from his draft class was an enjoyable experience.
“It was really fun playing with all of the other draft eligible prospects from around the CHL,” Leason said. “It’s good to see how they play and how I stack up against those guys. I feel like I got along with them pretty well. Being from the Western league, you get to know some of those guys, so forming a bond with them was really cool.”
Leason might just have more hard lessons learned from the game of hockey than most other draft eligible prospects, but says that he doesn’t want the journey to end any time soon.
“It’s taught me everything that I know,” Leason said. “It has taught me many life lessons, including responsibility. It has been really important in my career and I want that to continue.”
Leason has scored 73 points in 41 games for the Prince Albert Raiders this year.