De Leo Excited to Re-Sign With Anaheim, Prepared for NHL PushOct 13, 2020
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
Chase De Leo continues to live his dream.
The La Mirada, Calif. native continued his stay with the Anaheim Ducks organization, signing a one-year contract on Saturday, October 10. It’s another step toward fulfilling his lifelong goal – skating in a Ducks sweater.
“At the end of the day, it would be tough for me to want to leave California and leave the Anaheim Ducks,” he told reporters while discussing his new contract. “I remember telling them that I don’t think anyone wanted to be a Duck as badly as I do, considering it’s something I’ve wanted and worked for since I was three years old. Playing mini hockey or roller hockey in the backyard, pretending I was scoring the big goal as a Duck and to finally to be able to have that dream come true, it’s pretty much a no-brainer if it’s an option for me to sign here. I feel there’s good opportunity in this organization as well.”
The Southern California native spent most of the last two seasons with San Diego in the American Hockey League (AHL), recording 80 points (30g/45a) in 117 games. During the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, De Leo recorded three shorthanded tallies, tied for the second most single-season shorthanded markers in Gulls’ history and tied for fourth among league leaders.
He’s also tasted life as a Duck, suiting up in two games with Anaheim, becoming the fourth Southern California native to play for the club..
“It’s awesome, it’s a privilege every day,” De Leo said. “Being able to make that dream come true with the Ducks and put that jersey on for the first time, I remember it was hanging in my stall and I’d flip it around just to see my name bar on the back of the jersey. With the cool retro throwback logo that was similar to the one I just had on in that picture I just posted is super special. It’s my family’s dream. I remember playing floor hockey when I was little, pretending I was Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net. I’ve always wanted to be a Duck and that was definitely my lifelong dream.”
De Leo is taking full advantage of his extended offseason, ramping up his training and nutrition to ready himself for an eventual training camp. The forward discussed how he carries the attitude from his workouts into his everyday tasks, looking for any edge as he prepares for the upcoming season.
“Hockey is not just a 9:00-5:00 job, it’s a 24/7 job,” he explained. “It’s not just when you’re at the rink, everything you do pretty much revolves around putting myself in the best position to succeed, whether it’s nutrition, working out, stretching or even taking the dogs out on a walk. Little things like that, I think they’ll add up in the long run.”
De Leo sees some of the younger talent entering the organization – and the speed game the Ducks would like to play – and knows the competition for spots will only increase when training camp begins.
“It’s a lot faster and there’s a lot of young guys, that’s the way the NHL is going now,” he said. “You have to be able to skate and make plays at a high speed so there’s a lot of fast, young guys that are ready to take the next step and earn a roster spot. Going back to being competitive with the teammates and guys in the organization, that’s a healthy thing. You want to be competitors and you want to compete for spots. That’s what pushes everybody to play at their highest level. There’s a lot of that right now that I’ve seen so far since I’ve been in this organization and I know it’s just going to keep continuing to grow in the right direction.”
As he continues to practice a day-to-day approach – something necessary for the challenges of an irregular year – De Leo continues to focus on his goal, a shot at becoming a regular for his childhood team.
“I’m just happy to get a contract done and be able to be home for another year,” he said. “Like I said, I’ve been working really hard this whole offseason, it’s been an extended offseason. I feel like I’m training for the Olympics almost but I’m ready to let this hard work hopefully pay off.”
Joe Spurrier and Andy Zilch contributed to this news story.