Spits’ Michael DiPietro suiting up for the draft at a hometown shop

WINDSOR STAR – June 22, 2017 | Written By: JIM PARKER

Michael DiPietro stayed close to home when it came to selecting the suit the 18-year-old Amherstburg native will wear in the stands at this year’s NHL Draft, which takes place Friday and Saturday in Chicago.

AMHERSTBURG – While he cannot control how the NHL Draft will play out, Windsor Spitfires goalie Michael DiPietro is firmly in charge of how he will look for the event.

The 18-year-old Amherstburg native stayed close to home when it came to selecting the suit he will wear in the stands at the draft, which takes place Friday and Saturday in Chicago.

DiPietro went to 67 Richmond to have his suit done by owner Peter Leardi.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” DiPietro said. “I’ve always dreamt of getting a suit for myself strictly for the draft. Bringing my dad (Vic) in, and him being part of the process.

Windsor Spitfires goaltender Michael DiPietro was custom-fitted for his NHL Draft suit at 67 RICHMOND men’s fashion clothing in Amherstburg, June 13, 2017. JASON KRYK / WINDSOR STAR

“I’ve known Pete for so long. I played high school hockey (at Villanova) with his son Colin. I’m from Amherstburg and it only felt right to do it in Amherstburg, especially with Pete.”

DiPietro’s request for a special suit was not a unique for Leardi, who handled the same duty in 2014 for Belle River’s Aaron Ekblad — the first pick overall that year by the Florida Panthers.

“I saw (Aaron’s dad) Dave at an Andy Paquette (skating) clinic,” Leardi said. “It was the year Aaron was going to the OHL as special status. I said, ‘I’d love to dress Aaron for the OHL when he’s ready to go.’”

Ekblad came in and became a regular whenever he was in need of a suit for a special occasion.

“Every time Aaron would need a new suit, he’d call me up,” Leardi said.

Former Spitfires and current NHL head coaches Paul Maurice, who is with the Winnipeg Jets, and Peter DeBoer, who is with the San Jose Sharks, also sought out Leardi for suits.

DiPietro is more like family.

“I knew Mike when he was in diapers,” Leardi said. “His birth mother worked for me and I did (his dad) Vic’s wedding suit. There was a connection there. I’ve known his uncles for years and went to school with them.

“A year ago, I told Vic, ‘I want to dress your son for the draft.’ Mike’s a hometown boy and a hometown success story. I couldn’t be more proud of him to allow us to do this for him.”

The whole process took weeks to bring together.

“A couple of fittings just to make sure it fits like a glove and make a couple of alterations here and there,” DiPietro said. “It’s an exciting time for me, and that suit is just something I hope makes me look like a million bucks. I want to look sharp and clean and add a little flash with the socks.”

Like Ekblad, he opted for blue.

“It’s the hot colour,” Leardi said. “It’s been a strong, strong colour for a couple of years now.

“When Ekblad came in, he knew what he wanted. He told me he was looking for this certain type of blue. When Mike came in, I went to fabrics and said, ‘Is this what you want?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, exactly.’”

From there, it was a matter of making sure the fit and look were exactly what DiPietro was looking for.

“Make sure the tailoring is right, nip and tuck and those little things,” Leardi said.

The pants had to be opened five-eighths of an inch to accommodate his calves, and while the shirt fit his neck, it had to be taken in two inches on the sides for a perfect fit.

“This generation, in the last five to 10 years of young men, is the fussiest generation in terms of fit that I’ve experienced in the 32 years I’ve been in business,” Leardi said. “If you get it, it’s good, because they seek you out. If you understand it, that’s even better. They’re grateful for it and a pleasure to work with because they want to look good. Who doesn’t want to dress somebody that wants to look good?”

On the mantel, behind the counter at 67 Richmond, is a shot of Ekblad in his suit as well as Maurice behind the bench. Leardi plans on making room for a shot of DiPietro as well.

“I like to keep the trend going for first-rounders,” DiPietro said of Ekblad going in the first round after getting a suit from Leardi. “I’d like to see their streak keep going.

“Hopefully that helps me. I don’t know what to expect that day, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Proud to Suit Up Award winning Cinematographer Matt Bendo

Matt Bendo wins Prestigious National Cinematography Award

Windsor native, Matt Bendo, has won Best Cinematographer for Branded Content at the 60th Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards.

Bendo, who is 24 years old, is a former graduate of the University of Windsor where he was awarded the Board of Governor’s Medal. Bendo was nominated alongside Vancouver’s Cole Graham and five-time nominee and past winner D. Gregor Hagey of Toronto. Bendo is the youngest person to win this prestigious national cinematography award in Branded Content. The award Bendo received recognizes the winning cinematographer as a true Director of Photography. A lapel pin given to each winner is proudly worn in the film community as a symbol of national recognition.

Bendo describes how, “A cinematographer is a visual storyteller that subconsciously manipulates an audience’s emotions while guiding them from one scene to the next. Through the use of precise camera movements,compelling compositions, and strokes of light, a cinematographer evokes feelings in the audience that transcend simply displaying images on a screen.”

Bendo’s commercial entitled “Storm” advertises custom exhausts created by YST & Armytrix for Lamborghini. In his acceptance speech Bendo thanked the CSC for continuing to “foster a community for cinematographers where we can all learn and grow together.“ Bendo gave tribute to co-director, Cameron Bryson (Toronto), fellow Windsor native and musician, Cal Cuffaro, who created the sound design of the commercial, University of Windsor grad Sam Pollock, who did the camera rigging for the driving shots, and Tony Lau, Bendo’s former professor at the University of Windsor and owner of Film Loft Productions of Toronto. Bendo ended his speech by thanking his mother saying “Most of all I love you mom. Thank you for supporting me endlessly in my pursuit to be an artist.” He dedicated his award to his mother, Tina and late father, Chris.

Bendo commented that, “It was such an honour just to be in the same room with such an abundance of talented Canadian cinematographers, let alone being nominated. Winning Best Cinematographer in this category is something I couldn’t even imagine happening at such a young age. I plan to continue to develop my cinematic style and in the process gain a better understanding of myself as a visual storyteller. “The Canadian Society of Cinematographers has promoted the art and craft of cinematography since 1957.

Projected NHL first-round draft pick Aaron Ekblad gets dressed for the occasion in Amherstburg

Published in the Rivertown Times  | Written By Ron Giofu

Aaron Ekblad (left) of the Barrie Colts chats with 67 Richmond St. owner Peter Leardi Friday afternoon after Ekblad was fitted for a suit at the Amherstburg clothing store. Ekblad, a Belle River native, will be wearing that Jack Victor suit on stage this Friday night at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia.

Aaron Ekblad (left) of the Barrie Colts chats with 67 Richmond St. owner Peter Leardi Friday afternoon after Ekblad was fitted for a suit at the Amherstburg clothing store. Ekblad, a Belle River native, will be wearing that Jack Victor suit on stage this Friday night at the NHL Draft in Philadelphia.

When Aaron Ekblad takes the stage at this Friday night’s NHL Draft in Philadelphia, his clothing will have an Amherstburg connection.

The Jack Victor suit Ekblad will be wearing has come from 67 Richmond St. with Ekblad being in the Amherstburg clothing store last Friday afternoon for his final fitting. Ekblad, a Belle River native, could go as high as number one in this Friday’s draft.

“Mr. Pete Leardi has been helping me out with it,” Ekblad said, referring to 67 Richmond St.’s owner. “He’s such a good man and he’s really helped me over the years inventing my style. I like to be a little bit flashy here and there but it’s good to be simple and elegant as well.”

The draft will be “pretty special” for the 6’4”, 215 lbs. 18-year-old defenseman.

“It’s an anxious time for me and my family. We’ve been working for this my entire life,” he said.

Ekblad said he has visited with representatives with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers but, as of last Friday, had not heard from anyone from the Florida Panthers or Buffalo Sabres, owners of the top two picks. He said regardless of who selects him, he will be aiming to make the NHL next season.

“I’m going to be happy to go anywhere,” he said. “I just want to play in the NHL.”

Aaron Ekblad (left) gets fitted for the suit he will be wearing at the NHL Draft by 67 Richmond St. owner Peter Leardi. The fitting took place June 20 with the first round of the draft occurring June 27.

Aaron Ekblad (left) gets fitted for the suit he will be wearing at the NHL Draft by 67 Richmond St. owner Peter Leardi. The fitting took place June 20 with the first round of the draft occurring June 27.

While the draft is important, Ekblad added it doesn’t overshadow what he has done on the ice. He has played the last three seasons with the OHL’s Barrie Colts and was also part of the Canadian team at the World Junior Hockey Championships last season.

“(The draft) is a cool thing to be a part of but I think on-ice accomplishments are more rewarding, for sure,” said Ekblad.

Leardi stated that having Ekblad in the store was important for him, as well.

“This is special, for sure,” said Leardi.

Fellow draft hopeful Hunter Smith has been in the store, Leardi said, as has Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice. New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique has been a customer at 67 Richmond St.’s Tecumseh location, Leardi added.