Were you surprised to hear that Detroit Red Wings center Joe Veleno would be playing for Canada at the upcoming world championship? Well, now you know how he feels.
“Yeah, a little bit,” Veleno answered honestly when asked is he was caught off guard to get the call to play for his country. “I got it pretty late, I think it was the second or third-last game of the season. I got a call asking if I wanted to go.
“Obviously there’s plenty of good players around the NHL. There’s plenty of great Canadian players that can be eligible to go. I was just really grateful and honored that they thought of me.
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“I definitely think it’s a good opportunity for me to go over there.”
It’s that last bit that probably has everything to do with Veleno being on the team. A bottom-six forward tallying nine goals for a non-playoff team generally doesn’t elicit the chance to play for his country.
There’s little doubt that Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman, an assistant GM with Team Canada, was proverbially putting his finger on the scale when it came time to weigh in on whether Veleno should be part of the squad.
World Tourney Could Be Boon For Veleno’s Development
The world tourney has often proven to be a catapult to greater things for young players. With the Red Wings, both Dylan Larkin and Moritz Seider utilized playing there as teenagers to help launch their NHL careers.
Veleno is hoping that by playing there this spring, he’ll be moving his game forward at least a notch.
“I think I have some more in me and can take a lot more steps in my game,” Veleno said. “I think it’s just gonna be a great experience. I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”
Instead of his season being over, Veleno is getting the chance to play more hockey.
“Right now I’m taking about a week off here and starting on Monday I’m gonna head to the gym a little bit,” Veleno said. “I’ll throw on my skates a couple of times just to kind of feel the puck a little bit and get my body into some physical activity and head over there May 4.”