A little over two weeks ago, when Steven Pinizzotto’s season-ending shoulder surgery was announced, we posited the following theory: to be the thirteenth forward in Vancouver was to be cursed.

All the signs pointed to a curse. Pinizzotto wasn’t the only depth forward to go down: Andrew Ebbett and Byron Bitz had also fallen prey to injury troubles that would keep them out indefinitely. Additionally, the forwards for the Canucks’ farm team in Chicago were all playing miserably to start the year. The Canucks found themselves with no options but to carry only 12 forwards, just as the curse wanted.

For two weeks, that’s exactly what they did, and — shock of shocks — there were absolutely no problems. But then Mason Raymond declared himself ready to play, Vancouver found themselves in possession of 13 healthy guys, and Unlucky 13 once again reared its ugly head: the Canucks announced Saturday that Aaron Volpatti is done for the season after tearing his shoulder labrum late in Thursday’s game versus Nashville. There goes another one.

It’s worth noting that the curse was really after Mason Raymond. Remember that curious paperwork error? I suggest that this was the curse at work, trying to pin Raymond in the thirteen hole, so as to end his season. However, when it became clear that the paperwork issue would only delay the inevitable and Volpatti would be the official thirteenth forward beginning Sunday, the curse claimed its next victim.

So how will this affect the Canucks?

Most are shrugging at Volpatti’s plight, especially since he was already about to come out of the lineup. The media met the announcement with little more than disinterest. The Winnipeg Free Press headline read, “Low-scoring Volpatti out for the season“.  There was probably a kinder descriptor they could have used.

But there are worse curses to have. Volpatti, is, as Cam Charron points out, extremely replaceable. Last year, the team couldn’t keep their top-six defensemen healthy. That’s a larger problem. And heck, at least the Canucks have two number one netminders. The New York Islanders’ goalie curse continues to wreak havoc: they’ve already started four different guys in net this year.

Still, while Volpatti may have been the thirteenth-best forward on the team, he was also one of the Canucks’ few sources of traditional “grit”, as well as a member of the best fourth line in recent memory. Along with Dale Weise and Maxim Lapierre, the trio was beginning to round into form as a reliable unit, capable of handling nearly ten minutes a night. They may not have been fighting all that often, but they were hitting a great deal and spending far more time in the offensive zone than the Canuck fourth lines of yore.

It remains to be seen if Volpatti’s absence derails the group’s progress. Here’s hoping it doesn’t.

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6 comments

  1. peanutflower
    December 4, 2011

    Well, that’s a pretty low-blow headline from Winterpeg. I thought Volpatti was really beginning to show promising signs and there is no doubt that line was cooking. If you aren’t worried when the fourth line gets on the ice you know they’re doing their job just fine. There’s no way Raymond can be a replacement for Volpatti — he just doesn’t play the same way. So who gets put on the line then?

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    • Dani
      December 4, 2011

      Definitely agree with you. I was really enjoying Volpatti’s contributions on the 4th line, even if they weren’t showing up in the points column. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing either Duco and Oreo again pretty soon. Like you said, Raymond and Volpatti aren’t long-term interchangeable players.

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  2. Zach Morris
    December 4, 2011

    Perhaps Salo’s curse is spreading.

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  3. Crazzysimon
    December 4, 2011

    All this is starting to sound like the plot of one of the Final Destination films… Yikes.

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  4. Eric Blacha
    December 4, 2011

    Volpatti was the dangerous guy on our team. He could fight and could hit anything that was in his way.

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  5. J21
    December 4, 2011

    To be fair, I’ll take this curse over the one that affects forwards 1 through 12.

    Did the Winnipeg Free Press seriously report independently on this injury, or did they just pick up a wire service blurb? Doesn’t seem like the type of thing that would interest them since they got an NHL team back. I have no idea who the Jets’ 12th forward is. (Tanner Glass?)

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