Centre Mikko Leinonen was a dangerous goal scorer who played 162 NHL games with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals in the 80s. He was also a top domestic and international player in his native Finland.
Born in Tampere, Finland, Leinonen spent several years with the local Tappara club as well as Karpat Oulu and Sweden's MoDo. He was part of a Finnish championship with Tappara in 1975 and represented his country at the World Junior Championships in 1974 and 1975, the 1978, 1979 and 1981 World Championships and the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.
After playing for Finland at the 1981 Canada Cup and being named to the Finnish first all-star team, Leinonen registered 31 points in 53 games for the Rangers as an NHL rookie. He also contributed seven points in as many playoff games while helping the Blueshirts reach the semifinals. In 1982-83 the tricky veteran recorded 51 points while forming a useful line with Ron Duguay and Chris Kontos. He started the next year in the minors but returned to average nearly a point per game late in the season and helped the Rangers come close to upsetting the Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders in the playoffs. He signed with the Capitals prior to the 1984-85 season but only played three games for the club before returning to Finland. Leinonen retired in 1986 after playing two years with Karpat Oulu.