Former Flin Flon Bomber legend, NHL star and youth coach and sports advocate Reggie Leach is now a member of the Order of Canada.
Leach was one of 42 people to receive the honour in a ceremony at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall Oct. 20. Leach’s announcement as a member was first formally announced in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a formal, in-person ceremony until earlier this month.
Leach, originally from Riverton, Man. and a member of the Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation in northern Ontario, started his path to greatness in Flin Flon, playing with the Bombers during the team’s time in the Western Canada Hockey League, the progenitor to the current WHL. Leach skated for the first time at the Whitney Forum almost six decades ago, going from a 16-year-old prospect who took the bus to Flin Flon from his hometown one summer to one of the team’s most accomplished alums and the NHL’s first Indigenous star player.
Leach and Bobby Clarke formed a fruitful partnership in Flin Flon that continued on to the pros, the Philadelphia Flyers and time with Team Canada.
Over 934 career NHL regular season games, Leach scored 381 goals and had 666 points, including 47 goals and 69 points in 94 career playoff games. Leach won a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Canada Cup gold and still holds the NHL record for most playoff goals in one year, potting 19 in just 16 games in 1976.
Despite Leach’s on-ice achievements, his greatest work may have come after he hung up his skates. In the nearly four decades since he stepped away as a player, Leach has run hockey camps and training for kids across Canada through Shoot to Score Hockey, which he runs with his son, former NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Jamie. The camps travel to small towns and remote communities across Canada, even making a stop in Flin Flon in 2019. Leach’s advocacy for sport and young athletes has included off-ice lessons as well. Leach, who has candidly discussed his issues with addiction as a young man, has used his experiences to help teach young people.
“Since retiring from hockey, he has dedicated himself to giving back to youth through coaching and speaking publicly about his successes and struggles. He is a strong and vocal advocate for sport’s integral role in building healthy communities,” reads the Governor General’s announcement of Leach’s appointment.
In a speech at the Oct. 20 ceremony, Governor General Mary Simon said the appointees were chosen as they represented the best Canadians have to offer to their communities.
“Each of you being invested today has a unique story to tell and it’s a pleasure to share them with all Canadians. Stories define us. They shape us. Our experiences, after all, make us who we are,” said Simon.