Taking Liberties With… Chase De Leo
CHASE DE LEO
Position: Forward, Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League)
Hometown: La Mirada
Last Amateur Team: Portland Winterhawks (Western Hockey League)
Youth Teams: Norwalk Knights, LA Jr. Kings, LA Hockey Club
California Rubber: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Chase De Leo: I enjoyed getting to travel to a lot of places at a young age – Silver Sticks in Detroit, The Brick in Edmonton, Quebec Pee Wees. Looking back, you don’t realize how much money it is and the sacrifices your parents make.
CR: What is your favorite memory in the game since leaving California?
CDL: When I got called up (last season by the Winnipeg Jets) we got to go to Nashville. I thought Nashville was pretty cool. It was fun to be a part of that and travel and stay in the five-star hotels. I also got to go to Boston, Philadelphia and Minnesota, all great hockey markets.
CR: Who have been the biggest influences on you on and off the ice?
CDL: Starting in Portland, I’d say Travis Green was. I was coming from LA Hockey Club and played a lot of minutes and in every role. I was 16 and he said, “This is where things are going to start being different. Don’t expect anything to be given to you. You’re going to have to earn everything.” I’ve carried that with me. And Mike Keane (Winnipeg’s player development assistant). He’s been really good to me and helps me out a lot. Any time I need to talk he’s there. He’s won Cups and gets it. He and his wife drove me to my first NHL game (against his hometown team, the Anaheim Ducks, on March 20, 2016).
CR: What advice would you give young hockey players?
CDL: Be super thankful because a lot of kids don’t get the chance to play the sport. Now it’s more popular. We were pretty lucky as kids who have parents who can afford it and sacrifice time on their jobs to do it. Be super grateful for your family’s support. Hockey-wise, you’ve got to have fun. You should be excited every single time. Work hard – you have to eat right, get to sleep at a good time and have your priorities straight. It’s more than showing up to the rink and screwing around with your friends.
CR: Other than hockey, do you have a favorite sport to play?
CDL: This a running joke with my teammates – I’m the least athletic person. All I did was play hockey.
CR: Are there are any pieces of gear you’re particular about?
CDL: I’ve always been a guy who believes if you look good, you feel good and you play good. For Christmas, I’d always ask for new gloves and a new stick. Our equipment guy would say I’m pretty high maintenance. I think new equipment helps you perform better.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
CDL: It has to be any one of my mom’s meals. She makes really good tacos and my dad makes really good barbecued steaks. I appreciate it more now that I have to grocery shop and cook for myself – not my favorite things.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
CDL: Luc Robitaille on the Kings and Paul Kariya on the Ducks. In Portland, Paul’s brother, Steve, was a volunteer video coach during my second-to-last year. I got to meet him and talk to him. Colorado’s Joe Sakic was my all-time favorite player growing up.
CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing pro hockey?
CDL: My biggest thing I need to work at and continue to is just the mental side of the game. Guys are always getting called up and sent down. You can’t think too much about it. You have to be ready at all times. It makes it more difficult to stay in the moment. You could get a phone call any time.
Photo/Jonathan Kozub/Manitoba Moose
– Compiled by Chris Bayee