December 09, 2007

Hockey star wants to be role model

Reggie Leach turned his life around and wants to help kids stay on trackAlcoholism probably kept Reggie Leach out of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and he's determined to do whatever he can to help young people avoid the downward spiral in which he became trapped.

He was one of the first big-time First Nations hockey stars. A right-winger, he helped the Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup in 1975. He scored 61 goals in 1975-76 and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after scoring 19 post-season goals. The Flyers were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the final.
His past:Leach, of the Ojibwa tribe, grew up in Riverton, Man., as a member of the Beren's River First Nation. He was known as the Riverton Rifle for the booming shot that made him a top goal scorer.

In 934 regular-season NHL games with the Boston Bruins, California Golden Seals, the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings, he scored 381 goals and assisted on 285. In 94 playoff games, he had 47 goals and 22 assists. He also played in the 1976 Canada Cup tournament.

There is no record of how many bottles he emptied along the way. The abuse cost him his first marriage.
His present:He got his life together and is among more than 30 former players in a Flyers alumni group. On Wednesday, Leach met with Bob Clarke in downtown Philadelphia to sign sticks and pucks that will be used to help raise funds during his forays back into Canada.

"I want to get more involved with First Nations youth," he explains. "I feel I can become a role model.

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