It’s been a season of ups and downs for Aaron Volpatti, the Revelstoke native who surprised many when he made the Vancouver Canucks out of training camp this fall.
First, he made headlines in training camp with a one-punch knockout of Brad Winchester in an exhibition game. Then he managed to secure himself a spot on the Canucks’ fourth line to start the regular season.
He made a name for himself on the team with his hard hitting and fighting ability. He didn’t show up on the score sheet – except in the penalty minute column – until he fired home his only goal of the season in a game against the Nashville Predators. Ironically, he was expected to sit out that game due to the return of winger Mason Raymond, but a clerical error meant he stayed in the line-up.
Two days after the goal, he got the not-so-surprising news that a shoulder injury that had been bothering him for more than a month would require season-ending surgery.
While he’s in re-hab, Volpatti will be taking the time to visit Revelstoke to sign autographs this Saturday, Feb. 25, from 12-3 p.m. at the Revelstoke Forum. The Times Review touched based with the 6-foot, 215-pound winger, to talk about his season and his time playing minor hockey in Revelstoke.
What has the season been like for you?
“I felt I had a strong camp and was glad I made the roster. There were a little bit of ups and downs at the beginning but I found I was able to reach my stride and be comfortable. I was dealing with this injury for quite a while and eventually it was to the point where I had to get it checked out. It was just a constant thing and it was unfortunate when I got that news.”
How has it been different compared to your call-up last year?
“For me it was a confidence thing. I felt a lot better this year. Last year was pretty nerve-wracking the first game… This year I found I was making plays and the confidence was a lot better.”
When you made the team coach Alain Vigneault said your job wasn’t secure. Was that on your mind at all?
“It’s not really something I worry about. It’s in the back of your mind sometime but it’s good. You have to earn your job every day and you have to get better every day – that’s what the team stresses. That’s what you focus on day-by-day.”
How do you feel about your role as a fighter?
“I don’t really see myself as a fighter. More I’m a deterrent for some guys. I don’t watch videos on YouTube of who I might fight the next game. I just worry about going out and playing. Most of my fights, they’ll just happen. Sometimes you have to do things to keep your job and sometimes that might include that.”
Don’t you worry about concussions when you fight?
“No, not me personally. I don’t really worry too much about it. I’ve been pretty lucky with concussions. It’s in the back of your head a little bit, but its not something I worry about too much.”
How did Revelstoke Minor Hockey help in your development as a player?
“I played for over 10 years in Revelstoke. It’s been a major part in my development. A lot of good friends and stuff like that. There were a few years we almost didn’t have enough guys to make a rep team. It’s tough. It’s funny the way things work out in small towns. Obviously it was great growing up in Revelstoke, I loved it. It will be good to go back and revisit it.”
What advice would you give to kids aspiring to make the NHL?
“I guess it depends on how old they are. Some kids, eight, nine, 10-years-old – if they ask you what they have to do, at that age I just tell them, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ You can dream that but I think you just have fun when you’re a kid.
I think you have to be a kid too. For me that was a big thing. I did summer hockey a couple of years but for the most part I was involved in other sports and I liked being a kid too.
I think that’s pretty important until you hit your teens and you’re thinking about where to play junior. Then you can look at working out and training.”