Earlier this week the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher hockey team was dealt not one, but two huge blows as defensemen Nick Leddy and forward Josh Birkholz left the team.
On Wednesday the Star Tribune reported that former Mr. Hockey, Nick Leddy, signed a three-year deal worth $900,000 per year plus bonuses with the Chicago Blackhawks. The 16th overall pick in the 2009 NHL had a solid season as one of Minnesota's top defensemen. Although his three goals and eight assists were not overly impressive, Leddy continually played shutdown defense. Leddy used his speed and skating skills to be calm and confident force on the blue line. Throughout the 2009-2010 season, the 5-foot-11 Leddy also showed glimpses of his offensive prowess with rushes up the ice that would rival any forward. Leddy's freshman season gave Gopher fans just a glimpse of what this kid had to offer.
Another loss for the Gophers came when it was reported the forward Josh Birkholz was signing with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. The WHL is one of the top junior hockey leagues and features teams from Canada and the United States. After his decision was made, it was announced that had Birkholz stayed, he would have been suspended due to a team rules violation. Birkholz had a strong freshman season with the Gophers tallying five goals and one assist. Birkholz played with a tenacity that few could match. Birkholz was always a spark throughout the game with his hustle on the back check or his huge hits in the corner. A strong freshman, Birkholz wasn't afraid to be involved in the physical side of the game. Gopher hockey fans will surely miss the energy and hustle that Birkholz brought into every game.
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Leddy and Birkholz Leave Team
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