But Eric has an intensity beyond his years. "I get so wound up that even in practice, if I'm missing the net consistently, I get mad," he says. "If I'm not scoring, I start to get bitter." This is a lad whose idea of Halloween fun was to make trick-or-treaters at the Velluccis' perform special exertions for additional candy. "I called it my extra-candy clause," he says with relish. "I must have had 50 kids doing pushups."
As for his shortlived adolescence, Eric says, "I can't control that. If I grew up the same as everybody else, I'd have a job after school. I don't want a job. I'm happy just to go to the rink."
Of course, Eric is not like everyone else. When he was just 14, he was already precocious enough to be invited to play in a celebrity golf tournament with many of the Maple Leafs. "Eric hasn't golfed three times in his life, and he couldn't have cared less about how he played," says Bonnie. "He went and had a great time. Later the Leaf players invited him to scrimmage with them. Before Eric went in, he was so nervous he got sick in the parking lot. But when he got on the ice, he didn't look out of place at all."