The numbers speak for themselves for Stephan Leblanc, the forward who is 3 seasons removed from being National Lacrosse League Rookie of the Year. And yes, the point totals went down for the third straight season for Leblanc. But no, that doesn’t mean he’s any less effective. He started slowly in 2012 and had some wondering if he’d lost his touch. But by the end of the regular season, the hot hand was back and Leblanc was back at the front of the line as one of the game’s most dangerous forwards.
The left-hander out of Dundas, Ontario, started the 2012 NLL season with just 11 points in his first 4 games and 9 of those points were assists. By almost any other standard, that’s a decent burst out of the gate. But we’re talking about Leblanc standards.
And scoring 32 points in your final 5 games is more like what we’ve come to expect from Leblanc. That 5-game stretch included a pair of 9-point games, including 4 goals in both. So yeah, Leblanc clearly showed his touch remained as potent as ever but the problem he ran into was having a teammate, Garrett Billings, throw down a season that stole the offensive spotlight.
Rock brass all season insisted there was nothing wrong with Leblanc’s game, even as he muddled through 2 stretches that saw him go goal-less for (gasp!) consecutive games. There are plenty of shooters in the game today who would love to have that be the extent of their “slumps.”
The summer of 2012 saw Leblanc play just 4 regular-season MSL games with Six Nations, where he scored 7 points. But he shifted into gear once the playoffs hit with 22 points in 9 games, dishing out 19 assists with 3 goals. Hey, when your summer club has sticks like Cody Jamieson and Rhys Duch up top with you, why not use that to your advantage and set the table? It didn’t quite lead to the Mann Cup Six Nations was hoping for, but it did help the Chiefs advance to the MSL finals for the first time since 1996.
Bottom line, if there’s something wrong with Leblanc’s game, it’s a nice problem to have.
Fact: Over the last 3 NLL seasons, no one in the East Division has scored more goals than Leblanc, who has 97. Teammate Garrett Billings has 96 over that span.
Top 40 (last year’s rank in parenthesis)
No. 40: Jeff Gilbert (not ranked)
No. 39: Kevin Crowley (nr)
No. 38: Kevin Ross (nr)
No. 37: Adam Jones (nr)
No. 36: Jordan MacIntosh (nr)
No. 35: Paul Rabil (30)
No. 34: Tyler Richards (17)
No. 33: Scott Ranger (nr)
No. 32: Chris White (20)
No. 31: Sandy Chapman (15)
No. 30: Aaron Bold (nr)
No. 29: Jeff Moleski (10)
No. 28: Andrew Suitor
No. 27: Ryan Ward (nr)
No. 26: Dane Dobbie (25)
No. 25: Mike Carnegie
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