It’s been six weeks since Aaron Volpatti got called up to the NHL and he’s been enjoying almost every minute of it.
“It’s just first class. We fly a charter everywhere, we eat good meals. It’s been pretty fun,” he told the Times Review in an interview last week, when we finally connected after weeks of phone tag. “It’s been great. I’m just going day-by-day, trying to stick around here as long as I can and try to give the best impression every day,”
Volpatti got called up by the Vancouver Canucks just before Christmas and has played 13 games since then – breaking Bruce Holloway’s 26-year-old record for most games played by a Revelstoke native.
Volpatti was called up by the Canucks on Dec. 17 and since then it’s been a series of firsts – his first NHL game on Dec. 18, his first goal on Dec. 20 against the St. Louis Blues, a short break over Christmas, his first fight on Dec. 28 against Sean O’Donnell of the Philadelphia Flyers and his first assist last week in a 7-1 blowout against the Dallas Stars.
In total, he’s played in 13 games, averaging 7:20 ice time, though he has been a healthy scratch several times as players have come back from injury.
The goal was the first of his NHL career and the first of the season for him after 27 pro games.
“Not scoring in that many games was frustrating. Once you get that first one out of the way things seem to get rolling,” he said. “It was a great feeling scoring that early into my NHL career.”
As for the fighting, he said it’s not something he goes out look for but it happens at the spur of the moment. His spat with O’Donnell followed a previous battle that saw them both get coincidental minors.
“He wasn’t too happy about it so I welcomed the challenge for a second time,” Volpatti said.
His second fight, with Brad Staubitz of the Minnesota Wild, came after Volpatti levelled one of Staubitz’s teammates with a big hit, though he did say he asked him for a fight earlier in the game.
“When I hit one of the d-men behind the net he didn’t like it,” he said. “He was just sticking up for his teammate.”
Volpatti said it helps the team is doing so well; they’re 14-2-4 since he joined the team and 9-2-2 with him in the line-up.
“What’s really good is the confidence we have as a team – we expect to win every game. It’s always even keel, if we win big or lose big, it’s pretty business-like. It’s a lot of fun.”
One thing that doesn’t bother Volpatti is the nickname bestowed on him by the Vancouver media – Peppermint, (as in Peppermint Patty, the Charlie Brown cartoon character).
“I don’t know how that came about, I had nothing to do with it. I’m indifferent to it, I have no biased feelings against it,” he said. “I don’t know what she’s like. I guess I’d have to watch a few episodes and get back to you.”
Volpatti still hasn’t been told to find a place to live and is still living out of his hotel room, a sign his future on the team isn’t assured. Of course, when he was called up, many pundits wondered how long he would last, especially considering the rotating cast of fourth-liners that preceded him.
“You drive yourself crazy thinking about what’s going to happen so I just try and go day-by-day if I’m not in the line-up I work hard in practice and try to get back in,” he said.
“I’m just going day-by-day and trying to stick around for as long as I can.”