Former Toronto Maple Leafs Player Gets Russian Citizenship

Mar 5, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Brendan Leipsic (49) talks to
Mar 5, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Brendan Leipsic (49) talks to / Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

There's odd news out of Russia this week that includes a former member of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Marlies. What might be the most surprising part of this news is the involvement of Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

According to Reuters, ex Toronto Maple Leafs player Brendan Leipsic wrote to Putin back in July of 2023 asking him to become a citizen of Russia.

It's not uncommon for celebrities and athletes to ask the president of Russia for this status. The same request had previously come from and been granted to actors Steven Seagal and Gerard Depardieu. In September, heavyweight boxer Kevin Johnson also asked Putin for Russian citizenship. On Tuesday, a Russian government website published a decree declaring both Johnson and Leipsic had been granted citizenship to the country.

Leipsic was a third round draft choice of the Nashville Predators in 2012. He went 89th overall. He never ended up playing for the Preds as he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in February of 2015.

The Leafs acquired the left-winger along with center Olli Jokinen and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft in exchange for defenseman Cody Franson and center Mike Santorelli.

According to Elite Prospects, the trade saw Leipsic move from the Milwaukee Admirals to the Marlies in the AHL. In total, he played 74 games between the two clubs and collected 14 goals and 40 assists. He managed to then record 54 points again the following season with the Marlies in 65 games.

That same year, in 2015-16, the Winnipeg Mannitoba native played his first six games in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored a goal and two assists. The following season was Leipsic's last in Toronto. He didn't get any more shifts with the Leafs but did play 49 contests for the Marlies. As an assistant captain on the team, he registered 51 points on 18 goals and 33 assists.

After departing the Marlies, Leipsic went on to be an NHL regular for the next three seasons. He played for four clubs in that time, the Vegas Gold Knights, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, and Washington Capitals.

Leipsic's exit from the NHL was not a pretty one. His comments from a private group chat were leaked on social media revealing he had made misogynistic remarks.

Before the Capitals placed Leipsic on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract, he made a public apology.

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The following season, Leipsic went to Russia to play in the KHL. He's now in his fourth season and third team in that league. So far this year, in 15 games for SKA St. Petersburg, the 29-year-old has scored a pair of goals and a pair of assists.