NICK Leddy had the best seat in the house as the Blackhawks were conquering the Bruins during the Stanley Cup Final in June.
The Hawks defenceman spent much of the final three games watching from the bench. It was a change for Leddy, who had skated regular shifts during the season and in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
The finals were the best of times and the worst of times for the 22-year-old Leddy. After averaging 17 minutes, 25 seconds of ice time on 21.6 shifts per game during the regular season, he played 2:37 on four shifts, 6:53 on nine and 3:25 on five in Games 4 through 6.
"You're down a little bit that you're not out there, but you just have to control what you can control and do whatever's best for the team," Leddy said. "The team and winning always comes first. It was hard, but it was definitely fun getting those wins at the end."
Coach Joel Quenneville said limiting Leddy's minutes was "all part of what was happening" and can be a learning experience for the young defenceman.
"(When) you're in that position, you want to play and be a part of it (and) you just have to work your way back," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure he's confident and comfortable out there."
There was knowledge gained by Leddy, pointless in the finals and with a minus-1 rating and six shots.
"I learned to just be patient and control what you can control," he said. "Everything is not going to always go your way. I just needed to be ready to do what I could to help the team."
After a short summer during which Leddy took the Cup to his hometown of Eden Prairie, Minn., and attended Team USA's Olympic orientation camp in Arlington, Va., Leddy is ready to use the lessons learned to his advantage.
"It's definitely good motivation. Winning the Cup was a dream that I've always wanted to come true. I'm just happy with where my game is, but I know I can keep improving."
Quenneville said the opportunity will be available. The coach has big plans and big minutes for Leddy.
"We'd like to see him move up as we go along here," Quenneville said. "We anticipate him playing important minutes for us. He complements our team game. We want to get him going."
Said Leddy: "It gives me a lot of confidence (that Quenneville) said that. I have to take advantage of that."
Leddy sees opportunities for improvement at both ends of the ice.
"It's getting to guys quick," said Leddy, who closely watches teammate and former Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith. "If you watch Duncan, he's so good at that. He'll be on guys real quick and make them make a mistake or make a decision quicker than they had liked to. That's a huge thing for me."
Leddy also wants to become more active in the offensive zone. He had six goals and 12 assists in 48 games last season and in training camp has made a concerted effort to unleash his shot from the point more often.
"That creates a lot of offense," he said. "If you look at some of the goals in the playoffs, that's where a lot of goals came from -- a shot from the point and rebounds."
Leddy's main focus will be taking the next step in his development now that his career is in full swing.
"This is will be my fourth year -- it flew by," he said. "I feel more and more comfortable every year. You can always keep learning and getting better. That's something I want to do for however long I play."
-- Chicago Tribune