Revelstoke’s Aaron Volpatti’s heart still in the game

Revelstoke's Aaron Volpatti, during his time with the Vancouver Canucks, looks on from the bench during a game against the Edmonton Oilers in December 2010 in Vancouver.
— image credit: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Former NHL'er Aaron Volpatti enjoys sharing what more than a decade of experience on the ice taught him with young hockey players.

Volpatti will be back in his hometown of Revelstoke this weekend to be a guest speaker at Sunday night's banquet to kick off the B.C. Hockey Championships Bantam Tier 4 tournament, which runs from March 19–23. He said he'll be open to questions from the kids and will be offering advice on what worked for him throughout his career, which included a year with the Revelstoke Grizzlies, three seasons with the Vernon Vipers, a successful four seasons with Brown University in Rhode Island, three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and two with the Washington Capitals.

The 31-year-old Volpatti, who retired from the NHL after receiving a neck injury, says he enjoys talking to young hockey players about the game, and is humbled by the experience.

"A lot of people think or they ask you, 'do you get tired of this stuff?' You don't really," said Volpatti. "It's always good to sort of relive those memories of playing. For me it hasn't been too long, but I know, even talking to some of the older retired guys around here, we all agree, it's sort of a humbling thing. It takes you back to the good times you were playing. It's about the kids too, remembering when we were that age.

"It's really rewarding seeing how interested the kids are and how much they look up to you and stuff like that. I like it, it's fun."

Volpatti suffered his share of injuries throughout his career, but the neck injury – resulting from a check to the back during his time with the Capitals – and subsequent recommendations from medical professionals led to his early retirement from hockey. He said he would have loved to have kept playing, but acknowledges life doesn't always go as planned.

Fans of the winger were upset when he had to give up the game, remembering Volpatti for his high energy and reputation as an enforcer. This is something Volpatti doesn't shy away from owning, and is part of a bigger philosophy he shares with younger generations of players.

"That was sort of the way I played and that's what sort of worked for me," said Volpatti. "It's not necessarily going to be for everyone. I think a big thing is you've got to know what your role is and you've got to embrace it and don't be something that you're not... for me, that's what my role was and it was sort of well understood and I kind of relished opportunities that I had with that."

These days, Volpatti resides in Vernon with his wife and son, and is currently pursuing a career in securities – something he developed an interest in through making investments.

"You know, I was a human biology major in college, so I'm totally going off the rails," laughs Volpatti. "That's like a lot of people, your interests shift. For me, I took pre-med basically and I thought about maybe being a doctor at one point, but I'd be 45 by the time if I started that now. So my interest shifted and that's where I'm at."

Though he no longer plays the game professionally, Volpatti makes time to show up and/or play for charity hockey events and offer his support where he can.

"I was actually just in Revelstoke for the fireman/police game there last weekend, and then there's stuff around Vernon, minor hockey, sometimes with the Vipers or whatever," said Volpatti. "I keep involved with some of the charity stuff and anything to do with the kids."

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