While the future of the Detroit Red Wings competed, the recently-completed NHL Rookie tournament in Traverse City, Michigan meant something different to just about everyone in attendance.
For center Joe Veleno, it was a chance to fine tune his skills before heading to main training camp and a realistic chance to crack the Red Wings’ opening-night roster. In the case of 2021 draft pick Pasquale Zito, it was an opportunity to play games that mattered for the first time in over a year. The COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the entire 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League season for Zito’s Windsor Spitfires.
To everyone on the ice, it was a chance to measure themselves. An assessment of where they’re at and to assess where they must get to if a career in pro hockey is to be a realistic endgame.