Keith Veronesi, who was born and raised in Glastonbury, holds up the Stanley Cup after the Vegas Golden Knights won the franchise’s first NHL championship. Veronesi is the director of scouting pperations for the Golden Knights.
In June, Keith Veronesi achieved a lifelong goal of winning a Stanley Cup, celebrating on the ice as the Vegas Golden Knights cemented the franchise’s first National Hockey League (NHL) title.
Veronesi, who was born and raised in Glastonbury, is the director of scouting operations for the Golden Knight.
The 32-year old called the moment “surreal” and said it was a culmination of all the blood, sweat, tears, and late nights that the entire organization has sacrificed over the years.
“I’ve been working in the NHL for seven years and a lot of the guys on our staff have been doing this longer than I’ve been alive, so I’ve taken this ride with a little bit of a grain of salt,” he noted.
Veronesi’s journey to the front office of a team that reached ice hockey’s ultimate peak has not been linear, featuring many twists and turns since leaving Glastonbury.
After playing hockey locally as a youth, he attended Berkshire School in Massachusetts in preparation for college hockey.
Veronesi said the experience of moving away from his hometown at the age of 15 forced him to grow up quickly, developing him as both a player and person.
“You could say it was the best four years of my life,” he added.
Following his graduation from Berkshire in 2010, Veronesi hit the ice for Connecticut College, serving as a team captain for the Camels and eventually obtaining a degree in sociology/American studies from the New London-based institution in 2014.
It was at this point that Veronesi’s transformation from hockey player to front office personnel began.
He got a job in sales with the Utica Comets, an American Hockey League team who at the time was the affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks (and are now an affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.)
Veronesi called working in the minor leagues the best education he could receive, crediting his time with the organization as his springboard to the next level.
During his time in Utica, he wore multiple hats, starting on the business side and eventually working his way through the ranks and becoming the vice president of the organization in 2015.
“From a professional standpoint it was the best thing that ever happened to me and was a really good opportunity to learn a bunch of different things,” recalled Veronesi. “I knew in my heart of hearts I wanted to get on the hockey side of things and I got lucky, which is half of it. I was in the right place at the right time.”
His experience in Utica opened the door to the NHL, where became the Hockey Operations Assistant for the Knight prior to the franchise’s expansion season in 2017-18.
Seven years later, Veronesi was hoisting the Stanley Cup on the ice of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas after the Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers in game five, wrapping up the series.
Veronesi called his time in the NHL “a wild ride” because of the “wave of success” that the Golden Knights have had, which included the team miraculously making the Stanley Cup Final (before falling to the Washington Capitals) during the franchise’s expansion season.
He added the sting of the championship defeat in the team’s initial season paved the way for future success.
“In the moment you are devastated that you’re not able to close it out, but you can reflect on it a few weeks later once your wounds have started to heal and think that it’s pretty impressive,” Veronesi recalled.
After qualifying for the playoffs five times in six seasons, the Golden Knights sealed the deal this year after finishing as the top seed in the Western Conference before eliminating three conference opponents in the playoffs and taking down the Panthers in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Golden Knights left no doubt in the game five cup-clincher, taking an insurmountable lead into the final period before winning 9-3.
“To be there on the bench as time expires, you see all the smiles on everyone's faces and then you’re standing on the ice with 19,000 fans screaming their heads off,” recalled Veronesi. “It was a unique experience and it might have been different if it was a 3-3 game and we won in overtime, but we were up 6-1 after the second period. You kind of know what is going to happen, so you can take it all in.”
In his role with the team, Veronesi’s daily activities involve watching and studying hockey players all across the globe as he and the hockey operations team plan their next moves to bolster the roster.
Whether it’s helping the team prepare for the draft, bringing in free agents, or planning for possible trades, Veronesi’s days are never the same.
“You don’t come to the office with a checklist of things you have to do, because it is ever changing,” said Veronesi, who lives in Nevada with his wife Jillian, also born and raised in Glastonbury, and the couple’s young son.
Veronesi added that his role in helping the Knights win a Stanley Cup back is a credit to his entire family, also thanking his parents for their support locally---allowing him to follow his dreams.
“Everyone sees me on the ice celebrating with the Stanley Cup, but they are the ones that have to make the sacrifices that allow me to do what I love every single day.” he stated.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin