New RMJHL commish talks job, future | AspenTimes.com

New RMJHL commish talks job, future

Adrian Veideman called himself a late bloomer, which is likely part of the reason he was drawn to the idea of becoming the new commissioner of the Tier 3 Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.

That, and the fact that since he retired in 2016 with the Colorado Eagles after nine years as a professional hockey player, he's wanted to find someway to stay connected with the sport that has consumed his life.

"When you are doing something for 30 years and then you stop doing it all of a sudden, there is this void that needs to be filled," Veideman said. "The majority of players who move on to juniors and levels above, they are late bloomers. They need that extra year or two of experience, and that's what this league provides."

Veideman was hired in May to lead the third-year RMJHL, USA Hockey's newest Tier 3 member. The league includes the Aspen Leafs, which in May hired Blake Hull — the son of Bobby and brother of Brett, both NHL legends — as head coach.

The Tier 3 league is designed to provide U20 players a segue from the club or high school level into the higher tiers, including at the university level.

"Everyone is in such a hurry to make the next level and make the jump, but a lot of these players aren't ready at 18 or 19," Veideman said. "If a player is putting in the work, no matter where he is putting it in, if he is producing somebody is going to find him."

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Veideman, 34, hails from British Columbia, Canada. He played junior hockey with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, which as of last season is the British Columbia Hockey League affiliate of the RMJHL's Steamboat Wranglers. After two seasons with the Silverbacks, he enrolled at Denver University and was part of the Pioneers' back-to-back national championship teams in hockey in 2004 and 2005. He was DU's captain during his senior season.

After nine years bouncing between teams in both North America and Europe, he called it quits in 2016 with the Eagles. He currently lives in Denver — his wife is from Littleton — where he is a residential real estate broker.

"I've seen some good leagues and some bad leagues, so it's what can I take from each of those situations to try and progress this thing to where we are growing a product and a brand that is viable?" Veideman said. "It's more exciting for me to be able to get my feet wet and really dive into what it takes to run a league."

Veideman inherits a league that will have six teams when the season gets underway in the fall, up one from the past two seasons. Along with the Leafs, the Colorado Thunderbirds, Colorado Rampage and Pikes Peak Miners all enter their third season in the league. Steamboat will return for its second, while the Breckenridge Bolts are back as well. The Bolts were part of the league's inaugural season, but poor management led to their hiatus this past winter.

Veideman has a vision of seeing the RMJHL grow beyond the six teams set to take the ice this upcoming season and develop it into one of USA Hockey's premier Tier 3 leagues.

Veideman plans to be visible this winter, going from town to town as he gets to know the teams, coaches, players and fanbases. Most of the changes he makes in his first year are likely only to be felt behind the scenes, but he did mention the league is close to adding a midseason all-star game, to be held in late January or early February.

"I'd like to see it grow into something where it becomes a self-sustained league," Veideman said. "We want to see top coaches come to this league. We want to see the staff run their teams as professionally as possible and really treat our players with respect. The more we are able to do that, the more we are going to be able to draw in higher quality players and be viewed as one of the top Tier 3 leagues in the country."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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