ST. CATHARINES – Reggie Leach is no stranger to fame. As a hockey legend, his accomplishments include 13 years in the NHL, where he was one of the most prolific goal scorers in Philadelphia Flyers history (he owns a Stanely Cup ring), and was nicknamed the Riverton Rifle for his deadly accurate shots, but if you ask him what his greatest accomplishment in life is he doesn’t hesitate—it’s the work he’s done encouraging Indigenous youth to make smarter choices.
On Monday, June 10, Mr. Leach’s accomplishments were recognized as he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brock University and where he gave the convocation address during the opening ceremonies of the university’s spring convocation at Brock’s Ian D. Beddis Gymnasium in the Walker Sports Complex.
“It’s quite an honour,” said Mr. Leach, who lives in Aundeck Omni Kaning—he is a member of the Berens River First Nation in Manitoba. “The things I have done over the years since I retired are about giving back and steering people in the right direction.”
Mr. Leach is as much known to a new generation these days for providing inspiration and acting as a a signpost to the good life.
“I try to explain to kids about the mistakes I made as a teenager and young adult. It’s our responsibility to guide these young people in the right direction,” he said.
Mr. Leach now lives on Manitoulin Island, but it was during his time as a teammate of Bobby Clarke and playing with the Flin Flon Saskatchewan Bombers that his star began to rise. After a stellar junior career, he was drafted by the Boston Bruins and played there and with the California Golden Seals before being traded to Philadelphia, the defending Stanley Cup champions, in 1974.
Mr. Leach helped the Flyers successfully defend their Stanley Cup championship in 1975, and nearly again in 1976. Despite his team losing in that 1976 contest, Mr. Leach was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. It was an incredible season for the Riverton Rifle that saw him set Philadelphia’s all-time single-season scoring record of 61 goals, a mark that still remains today.
Mr. Leach was an NHL All-Star in 1976 and 1980 and was inducted into the Philadelphia Flyers, Manitoba Hockey and Manitoba Sports halls of fame. He was a recipient of an Indspire Award in 2008 and was named to the Order of Manitoba in 2016.
Today, Mr. Leach is a motivational speaker and plans to encourage the Brock University graduates to make the most of their lives.
“Life today is all choices,” he said. “For young graduates going into this big, big world, remember why you went to university. Keep that focus going in the right direction.”
He said young people today need to remember the power they hold to change lives.
“My biggest thing is to be kind and gentle to everyone. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated,” he said.