By Lindsay Kramer
When Rampage coach Pat Conacher puts together an early scouting report, he certainly keeps it an active file for awhile.
Conacher first noticed center Alex Leavitt almost a decade ago, when Leavitt played youth hockey against Conacher’s son in Edmonton. Little Leavitt was very shifty, Conacher recalled, and had some potential.
These days, Leavitt, 23, is proving how sharp the coach’s eye for talent can be. In six games since Houston loaned Leavitt to San Antonio on March 1, Leavitt has chimed in with five goals and eight assists. That’s two more points than he came up with in 23 games with the Aeros.
Parent club Phoenix has seen enough to become believers. The Coyotes signed Leavitt to a multi-year pact last week. It was a reward for Leavitt answering what he termed the wakeup call he got when Houston shipped him to Texas of the ECHL earlier this season. Leavitt thought he was done at that level after last season, when he was named rookie of the year for pacing the ECHL in assists (65) and points (91) and helping Alaska win the Kelly Cup.
“It’s hard to explain,’’ he said of his earlier demotion. “Maybe you don’t do the little things you did in the beginning. I think I got away from putting in that extra effort that got me there in the first place. I told myself if somebody else believed in me, I would make it count, instead of taking it for granted.’’
Conacher made sure Leavitt had the proper support systems, putting him on a line with veteran stars Chris Ferraro and Donald MacLean.
“You have to give guys an opportunity to succeed. There’s no use bringing him here and putting him on the fourth line,’’ Conacher said. “He’s a smart player. He knows how to play in three zones. You have a player who doesn’t want to go back to playing in the ECHL.’’