John LeClair faces the Philadelphia Flyers media. Following an overhauling of management by ownership, LeClair becomes the latest addition of a string of hires hoping to create a winning culture in the City of Brotherly Love. One-third of the Legion of Doom, LeClair understands the expectations falling on his shoulders in his new position as Special Advisor to Hockey Operations. He joins former teammate Patrick Sharp in his new duty to bring a team-first mentality to an organization void of identity.
Flyers general manager (GM) Daniel Briere and Keith Jones, President of Flyers Hockey Operations, recruited Leclair to join the storied organization. For LeClair, the offer was too perfect to pass up. Residing in Philadelphia, LeClair could drive to their meetings. Logistically, geographically, and organizationally, this hire made all the sense in the world.
“Being a part of the crew with Danny Briere, Keith Jones, and the rest of the Philadelphia Flyers is a great learning experience,” LeClair said. “It’s going to be a tremendous group for me.”
LeClair is not thinking about venturing deeper into the NHL management sphere. Instead, he is focused on his role with the Flyers, using it as a learning experience by getting the opportunity to work with Briere and Jones. Prior to joining the Flyers organization, LeClair had a commitment with a Pittsburgh Penguins alumni, Craig Patrick.
Patrick Recruits LeClair to 3ICE
Patrick reached out to him to coach in 3ICE’s inaugural season. LeClair, similar to Joe Mullen and Larry Murphy, is another player Patrick plucked from the assortment of retired NHL legends he once managed in Pittsburgh. The conversations to join 3ICE differed from his recruitment to the Flyers Special Advisor position. Face-to-face became a foreign thought during the troubling pandemic months, and living in different cities did not make matters easier. Most discussions took place over the phone, but for Patrick and LeClair, the unideal circumstances did not idle their 3ICE ambitions.
“Because everybody was online, we had to get up to speed to help relay the message, the rules, and the rest for the players,” LeClair said. “They did a great job of doing that and ensuring everybody’s on the same page.”
LeClair views 3ICE similarly to his position with the Flyers. Everything is a learning experience. Patrick, a man LeClair admires, is filled with knowledge on the ins and outs of hockey, both as a coach and in management positions.
“Craig Patrick is a legendary GM,” LeClair said. “There’s not much in hockey that he hasn’t done. We learn a lot during the 3ICE days in our off time. He’s a very smart man. He’s got a really good perspective on how the games are played, and he’s one of those guys with just a wealth of knowledge.”
LeClair’s Coaching with 3ICE
3ICE captivated LeClair, and in his first season, he coached his team to third place in the league. A big reason for his early success is why the Flyers brought him into their organization: his ability to build a team-first mentality and a culture rich with respect, a drive to improve, and winning.
“With 3ICE, a team-first mentality is an easy concept to get these guys out to buy into,” LeClair said. “We are dealing with six players and one goalie, so they’ve got to be a tight-knit group, or it’s just not going to work. My team last year, that’s one thing we had. We had a really tight-knit group that played for each other; I’ve got a good feeling about the group I got now.”
LeClair needs his group to be hot out of the gates. 3ICE’s short runway before championship weekend leaves no room for error. He is confident in his team. The small rosters, sped-up games, and open ice benefit the skilled players.
“They understand the commitment that’s involved,” LeClair said. “Especially when you only have six guys skating. They all realize that and will all be ready to go when our first game comes. We’ll be ready for it. Hopefully, get some chemistry with these guys right away, and the talent will take care of itself.”
LeClair is confident in his group. He is optimistic that the league will continue to grow with the open ice and the non-conflicting schedule with the NHL season. 3ICE will resonate with passionate hockey-obsessed fans who yearn for it year-round.
“A hockey person, somebody that enjoys watching hockey, is going to fall in love with it, “LeClair said. “It could be a great summer pastime for those who need that hockey.”
LeClair Juggling 3ICE, Flyers Management Position
LeClair also seemingly needs hockey 24/7, 365 days a year. Balancing his new role with the Flyers and his coaching gig with 3ICE can be a strenuous task. He has a lot on his plate. LeClair will take every experience in strides, learning and building from every decision, whether in coaching or management.
“I think I’ll have enough time,” LeClair said. “A lot of the hard work as far as putting your team together for 3ICE is done, now just about going to the games and doing all we can to win and make sure we are one of four teams that go to Philly in August.”
Philadelphia is home. LeClair lives there, works there, and now, he envisions winning championships there. His roots run deep within the city. His connections expanded among hockey circles by the year. LeClair praises Philadelphia as a tremendous sports town, specifically its label as a premier hockey town across North America.
A hockey career in Philadelphia led LeClair to an eventual management position, while his time in Pittsburgh brought him close to Patrick and Ed Johnston, Sr. and a job with 3ICE. The two rival Pennsylvanian hubs are where LeClair fostered relationships to bring him where he is now. His deep history with Pittsburgh makes it ironic how he is a staple in Philadelphia sports lore. Regardless, before NHL training camp, LeClair has an opportunity to taste success first-hand inside of Wells Fargo Center—he can win the Patrick Cup in the town that is the past, present and now, future of his hockey career.
“When they announced it was in Philly, I was excited,” LeClair said. “I mean, the championship is in my own backyard.”
The 3ICE season begins on June 28 in Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast live by CBS Sports, TSN and TVA Sports. The season will run for six weeks before the championship game takes place on Aug. 12 in Philadelphia. Stay tuned for more content about 3ICE as the season progresses, and make sure to tune into 3ICE this summer to enjoy the best part of hockey each and every week.