Leo Insam, 1975-2023
by IIHF.com|30 JUN 2023
photo: © Max Pattis
Leo Giuseppe Insam, one of the finest Italian players of the 1990s, died suddenly in his sleep last Sunday morning in Val Gardena. He was just 48.
A native of Bolzano, he played at the 1994 and 1998 Olympic Winter Games as well as at six IIHF Ice Hockey Men’s World Championships between 1995 and 2001. These were the golden days for the Azzurri, a time when they played in the top pool of the World Championship for eleven straight years, a feat never accomplished before or since. In domestic-league play, the towering defender was a legend, winning three Italian league championships, two Italian Super Cups, and one Italian Cup before retiring in 2011 because of a chronic back injury. He later became a popular hotelier in Val Gardena.
Prior to his top-level success, Insam played at three IIHF World Junior Championships, B Pool, in the early 1990s, never being demoted and retaining its spot one level below the top consistently.
Insam played pro first with Gherdeina (Val Gardena) for three seasons before moving to British Columbia, Canada where he played provincial junior hockey with Nanaimo. But after one season he returned home, and later played in Austria (Klagenfurt) and Germany (Dusseldorf) before returning to Italy and signing with Asiago. It was at home that he played the next 12 years, moving to Milano and Bolzano before ending his career back where it began, with Gherdeina.
A defensive defender who was 6’5”, 212 lbs. (196 cm/96 kg), Insam was considered among the best blueliners of his generation in Italy. He scored two goals in 36 games at the IIHF World Championship. The first was the opener early in the second period of a 5-4 win over Latvia in 1997, and the second came a year later, the team’s second goal in a 5-2 loss to Canada.
He leaves a wife, two daughters, and a son.