Leonids Vedejs

This happy fellow is Leonids Vedejs, an early hockey legend in Latvia. His story is quite a fascinating one to tell.

Leonids was born on October 12, 1908 in Latvia, then still an independent country. He grew up loving two things - his country and hockey.

He was good at hockey, too. He represented Latvia in 34 international matches, a record until modern times. A forward turned defenseman, in many of those games he was the playing coach. And in 1936 he represented Latvia at the Olympics not only as a hockey player but as the country's flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies.

Leonids hung up his skates during World War II and focused on coaching and building hockey in Latvia. But when the war was over the communist Soviets took control of his country, Leonids Vedejs fled.

After a brief period of time in Germany, Leonids ended up in the United States. He spent most of the rest of his life there, though he also lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a while. In both countries he continued to teach young hockey players.

When Latvia regained independence in the 1990s Leonids was the number one supporter of Latvian hockey. He even supported the Latvian national women's hockey team financially.

Leonids Vedejs passed away on February 4th, 1995 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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