The Toronto Rock will honour longtime captain Jim Veltman by raising his number to the rafters in Scotiabank Arena.
The greatest player in Toronto Rock franchise history will finally receive one of the greatest honours an organization can bestow on an individual.
Jim Veltman will have his number retired by the Rock on April 12, the team announced Friday.
The announcement also happened to fall on Veltman’s 53rd birthday. His number will be in the rafters with longtime teammates Bob Watson and Colin Doyle.
"“When I bought the team in 2010, it was really Whipper’s (Bob Watson) time and it was his moment to be honoured,” Toronto Rock owner, president, and general manager Dawick said in the statement. “After we won in 2011 and Bob retired, the focus really shifted to Colin and honouring him and it was his moment. I didn’t want to take anything away from those two players and what they deserved. Here we are today and the timing is just right. There was never any doubt that Jim deserved this honour and I couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate this team’s first captain and raise his jersey to the rafters where it belongs.”"
Veltman joined the organization in 1998 after winning three championships in his first five seasons as a member of the Buffalo Bandits. At the time, the team was called the Ontario Raiders and played in Hamilton, Ont.
He was named the inaugural Rock captain in 1999. The team would go on to become a modern NLL dynasty, winning four championships in the franchise’s first five years – they made the Champions Cup Final in all five seasons.
"“When the phone goes off and I saw Jamie’s name and number I wondered what it was about,” Veltman said. “Jamie explained what the call was about, and I just thought wow, this is really cool, really thrilling. It’s been a few years for sure but it’s not about apologizing, this is great news and such an honour for me and my family. To be one of those names up in the rafters, it’s an honour and a thrill.”“I immediately start to think about all the moments and the great times and teammates. The memories that you carry with you, the moments that actually happened and that you lived through those moments. You feel it in your veins, the high pressure, intense moments and the big games. To be a part of that with a group of guys along with the coaches and management and ownership and the passionate fans, was all so special. If I could give the experience I had to everybody, I would.”"
Veltman earned the nickname “Scoop” for being a vacuum when it comes to grabbing loose balls. He’s the NLL all-time leader in loose balls with 2,517, a mark that could be snapped by former Rock captain Brodie Merrill. His total with the Rock, however, will stand for a long time. He accumulated 1,958 loosies in Toronto. Doyle has the second-highest total with 857.
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He was named the league’s MVP in 2004 and was a 12-time NLL All-Pro. He would finish his career with eight championships under his belt, the last of which came in 2005 with the Rock.
Following his retirement in 2008, Veltman got into coaching, becoming the bench boss of the Ajax-Pickering Rock, a summer league team in Ontario. He would also coach the Czech Republic team at the 2011 FIL Indoor Lacrosse Championships – Veltman has continued to coach the Czech team since his retirement.
It didn’t take long for the NLL Hall of Fame to come calling. In 2009, Veltman was inducted along with Philadelphia Wings goaltender Dallas Eliuk.
In 2014, Veltman was also a part of the inaugural class of inductees into the Rock’s Hall of Fame. He entered alongside former coach Ed Comeau and teammates Blaine Manning, Dan Stroup, Pat Coyle, Dan Ladouceur, and Watson.
The Rock will play the New England Black Wolves, who Veltman spent two seasons with as a defensive coach, on the night of the ceremony.