The feeling of going out on the ice while walking through the tunnel with his teammates.Feeling the energy in the building.
Getting ready for the anticipation of the challenge that lies ahead.
That’s the rush Mike Leggo will miss most after spending 21 seasons as a National Hockey League official.
“Just the awesome feeling of being part of such a special game and a special group of guys,” Leggo said of an NHL career that started almost 21 years to the day when he called his first game — a showdown between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals.
Leggo — son of Corner Brook native Dave Leggo, who now calls Calgary home — worked his last NHL game Sunday night in Los Angeles with his wife, Nancy, and teenage daughters, Mikah and Kielle, on hand for the farewell.
It was a special night as the Kings organization did a video tribute to him and his family before the game. Players from both teams made a point to offer him congratulations throughout his final game and he had players and fellow officials drop by for a chat after the game to wish him well in future endeavours.
Having his family by his side for the end of the ride was a special time and he was touched by all the attention he received for wearing the stripes for 1,213 regular season games and 42 playoff games.
“Satisfied, I guess, is the best way to put it,” he said of the wonderful evening he had with family and friends who supported him along the way.
“In our business we’re not used to getting a lot of accolades, and everything we do get we kind of like to flip off to other people, and deservedly so. Nobody gets where I’m at or has the career I’ve had without lots of support, so I was really proud and happy for them to be recognized and honoured in such classy fashion by the Los Angeles Kings.”
Leggo may have been living in California for years, but he always tells people he’s a Newfoundlander in his head and heart.
He got to share the ice with a number of Newfoundlanders who played in the NHL and always made a point to let them know he had strong ties to the province.
“I haven’t seen one Newfoundlander who ever made it to the National Hockey League that took a night off,” he said. “There’s not one person who comes from the Rock who is full of himself or feels they are bigger than the game and they came to work every night, and that’s kind of the work ethic that I tried to emulate and it’s always been a pleasure, for sure.”
He’s not sure what the future holds now that he’s retired, but he prepared himself for the day when his body told him it was time to put the whistle away.
He completed a master’s degree in sports management during the summer months, so he hopes to put that to good use before long.
He ended his career with two knee braces, although it wasn’t from anything that happened during a game and was more in line with wear and tear on the body over the years. He has scars to show for some of the stitches he required, and he endured the discomfort of broken ribs.
“That’s part of the bumps and bruises that we all go through,” he said.
It was all worth that exciting walk through the tunnel, he said.
He now has the freedom to write the next chapter of his life and he’s in no hurry to figure out what’s next.
A trip back to the Rock is high on his bucket list. He has never forgotten the people who stayed up late to watch him do his thing for more than two decades.
He’s leaving the game healthy and happy, so he’s thankful for everything the game provided him and his family.
- 21 NHL seasons
- 1,213 regular season games
- 42 Stanley Cup playoff games
- 2000 NHL preseason games in Japan
- 2007 all-star game in Dallas
- 2010 NHL Premiere Series in Europe
- 2011 Heritage Classic in Calgary
- 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi
- 2017 all-star game in Los Angeles