New Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach Mike Vellucci sat down with the team this week to talk about his background for a video series.
In the first video in the series, released on Wednesday, Vellucci spoke about his youth and his start playing hockey:
PART 1 (OF 4): We sat down with new #WBSPens head coach @mike_vellucci this week to learn a little more about the man behind the bench. He discusses growing up in Michigan, and overcoming a big obstacle to live out his hockey dream. Look for Part 2 tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/LejZ4847rm
Vellucci was born in Farmington, Mich., and has four brothers and one sister. He got his start in hockey at three years old with his older brothers on a backyard rink made by his dad.
"I got beat up a lot for sure, until I could start beating them up," Vellucci laughed. "... It was a lot of the younger brother trying to keep up with the older brothers. It makes you work harder, and it makes you compete harder."
In 1983, Vellucci was drafted into the OHL by the Belleville Bulls. He missed the entire 1984-85 season with a broken back after a bad car accident, and was in the hospital for a "long time," wore a cast for six months, and needed a bone fusion. He met with three doctors following the accident -- two told him he'd never be able to play a sport again, and the third told him that he could fix his back.
"I never gave up the dream," Vellucci said. "I always wanted to play in the National Hockey League, I always wanted to play pro. I just had to work that much harder to overcome that injury. They still didn't think I was going to play, but I was able to prove them wrong."
Vellucci went on to play two games in the NHL with the Hartford Whalers, 40 games in the AHL, 32 in the ECHL, and 142 games in the IHL.
The final three segments of the interview will be released in the coming days.