By Paul Betit
Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
PORTLAND, Maine – Monday was an off day for the Portland Pirates, but it really wasn’t for Jay Leach, who played his first two professional seasons in the ECHL.
While his new teammates were kicking back, Leach, a defenseman obtained a week ago by Anaheim from the Norfolk Admirals in a trade with Tampa Bay, flew to Virginia and drove to Maine.
Following a 14-hour drive, he was at the Portland Ice Arena for practice Tuesday morning.
Leach could have taken an extra day to retrieve his automobile, but he didn’t want to miss any practice time with the Pirates.
“With a new team, a new system and new guys, I’ll take as many days as I can with them just to get comfortable,” he said. “Personally, I do well when I’m around people a lot and (get) comfortable and get kind of confident in the system. That’s when I give myself the best chance to get going well.”
Since the trade, which came while the Admirals were in the middle of a three-week trip, Leach has been living out of his suitcase.
“I kind of took a lot of stuff with me, but you can only pack so much on a bus,” he said.
In his fourth full AHL season, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Leach is a solid addition to the Portland defense.
“We saw him play a lot when he was with Providence, and we respect the way he plays the game,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “He plays the game with an edge, which I think every team needs on the back end. He gives us a different dimension we didn’t have.”