The Toronto Rock might want to send Damon Allen a Christmas card this year.
It was while watching Allen, the ageless Argos pivot, turn in an MVP campaign this past summer, that Rock captain Jim Veltman decided to put off any retirement plans for quite some time.
Veltman, a two-time NLL MVP with Toronto, will turn 40 in March and had been giving serious thought to winding down his playing career and moving to the sidelines.
That was until he noticed the 42-year-old Allen and to a lesser extent, 43-year-old pitcher Roger Clemens, putting up some of the best numbers of their long careers.
"I was really inspired by (Allen) and what he can do at his age," Veltman said at practice recently in Oshweken. "It made me think, wow, I'm three years younger than him. Why am I even contemplating whether I should retire or not? Why not enjoy it and play my best for as long as I can? I should be grateful that I can still play at this level and contribute like I do."
Veltman, an eight-time NLL champion, is a phys-ed teacher at Agincourt Collegiate during the week and enjoys bringing his day-job to the arena.
"I like to take the guys aside and tell them to consider things like when they are going for loose balls," he said after doing just that with rookie Chet Koneczny.
Rock coach and general manager Terry Sanderson enjoys having Veltman around, acting as another coach on the floor.
"I think our veteran guys like the fact that they can get an opportunity to bring the younger guys along," Sanderson said. "We all learn from one another. These guys realize that Jim Veltman is a teacher and a teammate and they're able to absorb (what he has to offer) and it's great."
Veltman, a crafty defender, saw his offensive statistics slip a bit in 2005, but he still managed to lead the NLL in loose balls collected for the 13th time in the past 14 years.
"I feel great," he said. "These are the dog days of December. I can't wait for (the season opener against Arizona) Jan. 7. That's Christmas for me."
Veteran defenceman John Rosa announced his retirement last week. He was a walk-on with the Rock in 2005 and worked hard to remain with the club all season. Before hoisting the Champions Cup with his teammates last May, Rosa had played 122 NLL games without winning a championship.