Leeds Chiefs signal their intent with signing of Luke Boothroyd for new National League season
SAM ZAJAC described signing experienced defenceman Luke Boothroyd up for Leeds Chiefs as a “win-win” for both parties.
The Huddersfield-born former GB international becomes the Chiefs’ first signing ahead of their inaugural season which will see them compete in the newly-formed National League.
At 32-years-old, Boothroyd brings a wealth of experience into the Chiefs’ locker room, most recently icing for Blackburn Hawks for the past two seasons in NIHL North One.
Prior to that, Boothroyd - a product of the Bradford Bulldogs junior system - began his senior career at Hull Stingrays, spending two of his three years at Elite League level in East Yorkshire before switching to Manchester Phoenix.
One more year came in the top-flight under player-coach Tony Hand before the Phoenix dropped down to the EPIHL. It was in that league where Boothroyd enjoyed the most success, winning two regular season league titles and a play-off trophy.
The demise of the Phoenix during the 2016-17 season saw Boothroyd finish the campaign at Hull Pirates before switching to Blackburn in a revamped NIHL for 2017-18.
Zajac said Boothroyd was a player he identified from an early stage as somebody he could build his Leeds team around.
“He’s been a great player at this level for a number of years,” said Zajac. “He’s played for GB, he’s experienced and he’s won plenty in the past. You know exactly what he’s going to bring and that is the kind of guy you want to build a team around.
“Luke was a guy I identified pretty much from day one of me being appointed at Leeds and after speaking with him for the first time you could tell how excited he was to be part of a new project.”
Player-coach Zajac said he expected Boothroyd to prove an influential figure for his new team both on-and-off the ice.
“He’s a solid D-man, he doesn’t get beat one-on-one, he’s got great positional sense, he makes that good first pass and he brings the same kind of compete level every night,” added Zajac.
“He’ll be really important for us off the ice too, setting the right culture at the club, the right winning culture. He’s been a part of winning teams in the past, so he knows what it takes.”