We recently got the opportunity to sit down and interview San Jose Sharks and Barracuda forward John Leonard.
Leonard, 23, has played in five games this season, and played in 44 games last season with the Sharks.
Q: For starters, you were drafted in the sixth round back in 2018 and made the NHL just two and a half years later. What do you think accelerated your development to cause you to take the jump so early compared to others drafted in your position?
A: I think it was a combination of a few things. Coaches and everyone at UMass were so good at what they do and held me to high standards. Always doing video, working on stuff, and developing my game away from the puck. The work ethic I think was huge as well. I think when you surround yourself with hard workers, success follows and UMass played a huge role in that.
Q: Speaking of UMass, you played with Mario Ferraro for two seasons during your time there. Did that help you in adjusting to the NHL, knowing you had a teammate you already knew with you in San Jose?
A: Yeah, he’s been huge. I roomed with him at UMass and then I also room with him here. Especially last year when it was my first year and you don’t know many guys or what to expect. Him having had played a year pro helped me adjust with what to expect, meeting guys, and then also just talking to him about anything.
Q: Obviously it’s been kind of a weird experience for you this season. Starting the season with the Barracuda nd getting called up to the Sharks because of the COVID-situation. How has that been, and do you think these opportunities are your chance to grab a full-time lineup spot?
A: Yeah, it was a crazy few days. Fortunately, I was able to get called up and honestly just tried to take it one day and one game at a time. Obviously, my goal is to be in the NHL, but at the same time not looking too far into the future either. There are lots of young great players in this organization and I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity right now with everything going on here.
Q: So me personally, I’m a huge advocate for NHL teams in California. I think it’s an underrated market and I’d even like to see more join. What would you say personally is the best thing about playing in a market like San Jose?
A: I love San Jose. Living in California is awesome. Great weather all year round is also a plus. Obviously, with COVID last year we weren’t allowed to do too much, but there’s so much to do here and places to see it’s unreal. The fans here are also awesome. Even last year, when we weren’t playing in front of anyone you could still feel the support. My first game in front of fans was earlier this month and it was everything the people said it was. The fans and atmosphere and just the overall experience of living in California are definitely my two favourite things.
Q: You know all the guys in the locker room and what they’re capable of skill-wise. What would you tell Sharks fans who are worried about the future of the franchise?
A: I would tell them how many great and talented people and players are in this organization. The staff here are extremely good at what they do and how they create a great culture to be a part of. The veterans on this team are also great, not only are they extremely talented and skilled but also great people to learn from on a daily basis and help the team win night after night.