Vernon hockey player’s inspiring return from terrible NHL career burn chronicled in book – Vernon News

Aaron Volpatti is one of the most inspiring comeback stories in professional sports.

The Vernonite was never supposed to play in the NHL.

As an average, undersized young hockey player, Volpatti had to work his way, literally, into competitive hockey.

But in 2005, he found himself in a very different fight after a devastating burn from a campfire while camping with his Vernon Vipers teammates.

Volpatti recounts his journey from the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital to the NHL and a career-ending neck injury in his autobiography FIGHTER: Defying the NHL Odds.

Volpatti will be signing copies of his book Nov. 4 at The Roster Sports Club Bar & Grill in Vernon.

The book launch and signing takes place from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

At Volpatti’s The story is filled with adversity, personal triumph, heartbreak, terror and, ultimately, happiness.

The 2005 campfire accident left Volpatti with second and third degree burns to 40% of his body. He was told his hockey goals should be scored and he thought his dream was over.

But, after a call from an Ivy League university, he overcame the pain to pursue his passion.

“If you tell me it’s going to hurt, well, I’ve been through that before,” Volpatti recalled of a conversation with his doctors.

“I was ready to die before I gave up on that dream.”

This moment set him on the path to discovering what is possible through visualization and self-belief.

Volpatti then attended Brown University in Rhode Island, earning a degree in human biology. In 2010, he received his first NHL call-up, signing a multi-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks at the age of 24.

During his professional hockey career, Volpatti played 114 NHL games with the Canucks and Washington Capitals before a career-ending neck injury in 2015.

After his professional career ended, Volpatti experienced a loss of identity – but the same courage brought him back.

He began working as a cognitive performance coach for athletes, teaching others to deal with performance anxiety, lack of confidence and self-doubt.

“It’s been very rewarding, and this book has been a catalyst for that. I’m very happy to share my story in the hope that it will inspire others,” Volpatti said.

Forty percent of the book’s proceeds for the first 54 days (Volpatti’s number with the Canucks) will go to the BC Professional Fighters Burn Fund. At the book launch, The Roster will also offer a burger and drink option with $5 to the burn fund. Additionally, a squash tournament this weekend will donate 50% of entry fees to the burn fund.

The book is also Available on

Catherine J. Martinez