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Bandits’ Veltman has history on his side

The name “Veltman” sounds familiar to veteran Buffalo Bandits’ fans – and not because someone with that name played for the team last week.

Jim Veltman was on the Bandits from 1992 to 1996, winning three championships along the way and ranking as one of the team’s all-time greats.

“Jim’s my uncle,” said Daryl Veltman, one of the newcomers to the 2016 Buffalo roster.

Now that Daryl Veltman has participated in a game as a Bandit, he and Jim always will be side-by-side on the team’s alphabetical list of players. Daryl will try to add to the family legacy in Buffalo when he and the Bandits play the Colorado Mammoth on Saturday night in Denver (9 p.m., Radio 1520 AM).

Lacrosse always has been a family affair for the Veltmans, and Jim was a great role model. He’s considered one of the best players in lacrosse history when it came to faceoffs and loose balls.

“Jim had the chance to play against my brother,” Daryl said. “Unfortunately I missed him by a few years. He was one of those players who led a team by example with heart. I can definitely appreciate that.

“Every family get-together, we’d have the sticks out. Growing up in the backyard, we’d all play sometimes. It was fun, but it wasn’t at this caliber. … To be here, where he played, it’s a pretty special feeling.”

Daryl Veltman was born and raised in Georgetown, Ont., which is about 25 miles due west of Toronto. He played college lacrosse at Hobart and box lacrosse in Ontario, and was the first overall pick in the NLL draft in 2008 by the Boston Blazers. When the Blazers folded, he went to Calgary for five years.

Free agency arrived for Veltman after the 2015 season, and he decided it was a great opportunity to come back east. The family business was still in Georgetown, and the commuting to Alberta on a regular basis had gotten old.

“Calgary is a great city to play in,” he said. “We came just a little short in a few of those seasons. I thought a move would be a good change for me, coming back east and bringing my wife and family. I thought Buffalo was a great fit for me – great team, great guys.”

There were a couple of drawbacks to signing with the Bandits. The first was that New England had an interest in him, and Uncle Jim had joined the Black Wolves coaching staff as the offensive coordinator.

“Over the Christmas break, we sat down,” Daryl Veltman said. “It was kind of an awkward, quick conversation. But he understands. He knows what Buffalo can bring. So he couldn’t be happier with my decision.”

Then there’s the reason why the Bandits had an interest in the forward. Buffalo had an opening up front because of the retirement of John Tavares. The greatest player in the history of the game could be considered a tough act to follow.

“I’ve been asked about that a few times,” Veltman said. “I don’t think there will ever be anyone who can replace John Tavares. Coming in here, I want to do whatever it takes to make this team better, whether it’s setting picks or having that leadership presence.

“This is my eighth year in the league. I’ve played with a lot of great players, and learned a lot along the way. So hopefully I can pass that along to the younger guys and make this team better.”

In Veltman, the Bandits signed a player who has been in double figures in goals for all seven of his NLL seasons, peaking with 34 as a rookie. Veltman scored his first goal with the team in last week’s win over Calgary, leaving a good impression on coach Troy Cordingley in the process.

“Veltman is poise,” the coach said. “He calmed guys down on the bench. He told them to relax. Just the way he plays, he’s so intelligent. He’s a good player.”

The victory added to the team’s good frame of mind after the conclusion of training camp. Veltman hopes for more of the same results in the coming months.

“The feeling is excitement,” he said. “We’re ready to get after it.”

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The Bandits will have Chad Culp on their roster for the Colorado game, as he has served his one-game suspension. Jordan de Snoo went to the practice squad to make room for him.

email: bbailey@buffnews.com