Multi-talented Leier putting ‘gift of gab’ to good use
BY PAM SHEBEST
The Lone Ranger had Tonto. Doc Emrick has Eddie Olczyk. And for a short time, John Peterson has Boston Leier as a sidekick.
While Leier prefers to be in a K-Wings jersey on the ice, he has made a few appearances with Peterson in the K-Wings broadcast booth while recovering from injury.
“Not only did I think it would help me out in being able to take a few extra breaths here and there, it would add a lot to the broadcast,” Peterson said. “I think our broadcasts improved tremendously with someone like that on the air: someone who knows the game, knows everybody on the team individually and what their strengths are.”
The personable Leier was injured in a game at Cincinnati Dec. 13 and the next night made his radio debut during a wild game at Indy. The K-Wings were called for 55 minutes in penalties to Indy’s 29. Coach Nick Bootland and K-Wings Zach Frye and Tanner Sorenson were all ejected in the team’s 5-2 loss.
“I was just telling myself not to say anything stupid,” Leier said, laughing. “It was a tough game. It shows how you can get pretty emotional no matter what aspect of the game you’re in. I said if I were on the bench, I’d have a lot more to say, for sure, than being up on the radio.”
This is not the first time Peterson has had a player as a radio sidekick.
“When I was in Tulsa, we had (current K-Wings goalie) Jake Hildebrand before he was traded here,” he said. “Jake was injured at the time, so we rested him a few games and he was nice enough to jump on the air, wear the headset and do some commentary. That’s where my idea originally came from.”
Peterson said the key to a good color-commentator is someone who is comfortable doing it and can come up with the courage to do it.
“I knew (Leier) would be good. It was seamless. It was like he was a natural, like he had done it before.”
Leier said he had fun working with Peterson and can see broadcasting as a possible career move sometime in the far future.
“I enjoyed it,” Leier said. “He asked me if I wanted to do it and I said, ‘Yes. Absolutely.’ It’s a different aspect on the game and I got to have my two cents, because I do like to talk. When I sit up in the stands with the (injured) guys, they maybe roll their eyes a bit because I’m always saying or yelling something. I have to be careful on the radio but it’s the same idea.”
Learning experience for both
Unless they do not travel with the team, players have no chance to listen to games on the radio or watch on ECHL-TV.
Leier said in spite of that, he knew Peterson was good.
“He was named ECHL PR/Broadcaster of the Year (last June),” he said. “Spending those few games with him so far, I can see why. He’s so good. I found it very hard not to use the same terms. His vocabulary and his use of different sayings is so broad and so good.”
Peterson said working with Leier was also a learning experience.
“It’s amazing to me,” Peterson said. “Sometimes when we’re playing a team or even talking about players on our team that he knew before coming here, connections he had from his hometown or juniors or college, that was pretty cool. Those are things that I can now take if I broadcast solo the rest of the year. I can say that Boston Leier and Dyson Stevenson up in Utica are good buddies from back home. They’ve known each other since they were kids. Those are cool tidbits that I didn’t know until we started broadcasting.”
Peterson said that Leier also gave some insight on his own teammates.
“Even little things about certain guys in the locker room,” Peterson said. “I didn’t know who was roommates with who. For example, Luke Sandler and Zach Diamantoni. I’ve seen their chemistry on the road and thought these guys are good buddies, which is funny because Luke is very outspoken and Zach’s more of a quiet guy. I didn’t realize they were roommates. That was something that (Leier) brought out on the broadcast.”
Leier’s connections were what intrigued Bootland about the left winger when he signed him over the summer.
“We had a lot of help from a lot of players and we had him surrounded,” Bootland said. “He’s good friends with (former K-Wing) Lane Scheidl (now in Europe). He played for (former K-Wings assistant coach) Colin Chaulk (in Brampton). He’s friends with Valkie (former K-Wing Curtis Valk, now playing in Europe). One of the biggest things I say about him when asked is from a reference standpoint: he had such a glaring reference for being the best teammate anyone’s ever had.”
Leier, who is from Saskatoon, SK, Canada, played four years with the Medicine Hat Tigers in Juniors, then four years at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, graduating with a degree in business and finance. In spite of just his second year pro, Leier wears the captain’s A on his jersey, a no-brainer for Bootland.
“His leadership showed right from Day One,” Bootland said. “His work ethic on a daily basis, his compete level, his maturity for a second-year player. It’s all there. Consistency and energy and leadership are there. He’s one of the best leaders on our team. He brings such a positive energy on a daily basis. He’s a vocal leader as well.”
As frustrating as it is to sit out while he heals, Leier said whether in the broadcast booth or stands, he is still learning.
“Sitting up there is good because you get a better idea of what’s open on the ice in different situations, what plays, how much time you actually have on the ice,” he said. “You educate yourself and see what are the common mistakes and why things are happening.”
Meanwhile, he continues to work out and skate along with counting the days until he gets the OK to play again.
“I’ve been having so much fun playing hockey and that’s all you can ask for,” he said. “When it’s your job, that’s a bonus. The fans, the whole organization, everyone here has been just great.”