Red Wings prospect Joe Veleno discussed his status as an “exceptional” player who’s been playing in the QMJHL since he was 15, reflecting on his long Major Junior career with the Canadian Press:
“I kind of second-guess myself whether I should have got it or not,” Veleno said of lobbying to play junior at 15. “But at the end of the day it was a decision that I made at that point in time. I try not to look back at it too much. I’m just trying to focus on where I am right now.”
That’s with Hockey Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in suburban Detroit.
Veleno and 36 other teenagers are taking part in the event as the country ramps up preparations for the 2020 world junior hockey championship with a series of practices and exhibition games.
Now 19, Veleno is one of six returning players from last year’s team that finished a disappointing sixth in Vancouver and Victoria, although only he and star winger Alexis Lafreniere have hit the ice in Plymouth.
A year younger than the majority of his teammates at the 2019 world juniors, Veleno was cast in a supporting role — a difficult situation for a player finally rounding into form.
“It’s never easy,” said Veleno, who had two assists in five games at the under-20 tournament. “The coaching staff felt the need to put some other players on the ice. It’s their decision, but my goal was just to give it my best. My attitude (and) my work ethic around the rink, that’s something I can control.”