When it comes to offering advice to teammate Joe Veleno, Detroit Red Wings forward David Perron believes you’ll get more with honey than with vinegar.
Detroit center Andrew Copp, however, approaches from an entirely different school of thought while seeking to tutor young teammates like Veleno. As his surname would suggest, Copp is someone who leans toward laying down the law.
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Veterans Perron and Copp admit that they’ve kind of formed a good cop, bad cop routine when it comes to schooling Veleno, who just completed his first full NHL season, on the ways of the league.
Copp sits close by Veleno’s stall in the Detroit dressing, so there was contant communication between the two centers. And it isn’t always all about the love.
“I think he was a guy that maybe I was a little hard on in the beginning because you see the talent, you see the skating ability, you see his frame, you see his skill level,” Copp admits of his talks with Veleno. “It’s all there.”
Veleno Appreciates Copp’s Tough Approach
While acknowledging that Copp was tough on him this season, Veleno was also recognizing that it was only because his teammate has his best interests at heart.
“Yeah he does that,” Veleno said, before quickly adding, “it’s always great to see that.
“Andrew’s been a big part of my growth this year. I think he’s helped me a lot. I like the fact that he’s hard on me. My personality, I’m able to take it. I think I respond pretty well to it. I know he wants the best for me. He knows the type of player I can be and it’s just great to see that from Copper.
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“I get along with him really well off the ice and on the ice, too. We’d talk a ton every day. I’m really happy to hear that. He’s definitely one of those guys that cares a lot about the hockey team and wants guys to bring their best game, best foot forward and play their best hockey on the ice. It’s nice to see that.”
Perron was also a regular in Veleno’s ear this season. While it was for the same reason – to see his young teammate make positive growth as a player – the method was much more subtle than Copp’s over the top approach.
“I had so many conversations with him in French and English,” Perron said. “We had a lot of fun hanging out together away from the rink and on the road. And I just saw him progress each and every day.”
Red Wings Believe He Can Be More Than Average Joe
Veleno wound up finishing the 2022-23 NHL season with career highs across the board – games played (81), goals (9), assists (11) and points (20). Not exactly earth-shattering totals, but progress nonetheless.
“I think he’s a great kid that listens, that wants to be good, that wants to have success,” Perron said. “I’m really looking forward to how he has a great summer and comes back next year. I don’t know if he will get to that level to a top-flight offensive player, but at the same time, I think he can skate, be hard to play against. We’ve seen some physical play out of him. I see it in the room. I know it can keep getting better. So, I have a lot of time for him, to keep helping him.”
Copp also is seeing the development of Veleno as a pro take significant steps forward and thinks Red Wings fans should be looking excitedly to what the future might bring for the player chosen 30th overall in the 2018 NHL entry draft.
“I thought Joe took massive steps this year,” Copp said. “It’s just kind of a matter of take that next step and do it every night and be consistent with it in the battles, win the battles. And it’s not about scoring for him. If he’s noticed every shift skating, being physical, winning faceoffs, doing all the little things right, the scoring and the skill part, those will come out.
“Joe and I had a lot of talks this year. he’s probably one of my closest friends on the team and I felt like he was dialed in at the end of the year and we were really happy with his progress. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”