MONTREAL - Yannick Veilleux has begun his second season with the AHL's Laval Rocket.
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After registering 12 goals and 20 points in 26 games last year, the 28-year-old left-winger will serve as a key mentor this time around.
Veilleux was recently a guest of Marc Dumont on the History in the Making podcast to talk about the Rocket, his road to Laval, and his first impressions of prospect Kaiden Guhle.
Read on for a few highlights from Veilleux's discussion with Dumont, which is available in its entirety wherever you get your podcasts.
MARC DUMONT: Can you describe the atmosphere with the Rocket right now?
YANNICK VEILLEUX: It's going very well. Everyone is really happy to be playing after 11 months with no games. Everyone is really positive. The atmosphere in the room is really good.
MD: How do things work for the Rocket at the Bell Centre?
YV: They've set up stalls in one part of the building. I think it's in a former restaurant. We're all separated six feet apart. It's really well organized. We have access to a gym and there's a therapy room, too. We have a lot of space. What really has changed is your usual routine, the protocol to get to the rink. We can't arrive more than 1 hour 45 minutes before practice. Many players typically show up two or three hours before practice and prepare their equipment. It's a lot less now. We also must do our COVID tests when we get there. We arrive and we're tested. You have to register yourself and complete a questionnaire each time. That takes time, too. But we're still happy to be playing hockey.
MD: There are some tough realities in the AHL. For example, sometimes you were scratched last season after scoring in the previous game. You play a bit of a leadership role, but you also collect points. How do you see your role on the Rocket?
YV: I'm not the most vocal guys in the room, but I try to be a model leader. I just want to work as hard as possible. It's important to set a good example. But I'm also a competitor. That's why I'm still playing hockey. I love to compete. When I get to the rink, I try to be the best I can be. I think that attitude kind of becomes contagious among the other players. I come to the rink with that mentality every day.
Video: Yannick Veilleux on what he brings to the team
MD: You were drafted by the St. Louis Blues. Eventually, both sides made the decision to go in a different direction. Can you share some of the struggles you had to overcome? I imagine that the team that drafted you would give you more of a chance and support you. Maybe it's different for a team that didn't draft you. Can you explain the difference between the team that drafts you and another organization?
YV: You're absolutely right. When you leave the team that drafted you and tried to develop you, that's when the real "game" begins. You have to do something more than the other players that were drafted to earn a chance to play and perform. It's still a development league. That's what the AHL is for. You always have to work hard and have a good attitude, especially when you'e a young player. I know I thought a lot about things that were out of my control. I asked myself why a player was playing instead of me. The turning point, though, was when I went to Rochester. I didn't really have the opportunity to show what I could do, but I really wanted to have fun. I put everything I couldn't control out of my mind. I think that's something instinctive in hockey players, especially when they're young. We often think about things we can't control. Since then, I've been having a lot of fun playing the game. I think it shows in my game.
MD: You had the chance to practice with Kaiden Guhle. What were your impressions of the young defenseman?
YV: He's a young man who is very mature physically. You can see that physicality-wise he won't have any trouble making the transition. His hockey IQ is well beyond his years. I think he'll become a very good defenseman. You couldn't really tell that he's a young player during the practices and the intra-squad games. I played with his brother in Rochester before he was traded to Anaheim. His brother is a little bit like him, but I think he's a step ahead of his brother because of his hockey IQ. The fans will really like him.
Click here to find the show on your favorite podcast app.