Michael Chaput bringing it each and every shift

Author: Clarence Paller, for PHPA.com
Date: Feb 21, 2018

Michael Chaput has always played a hardnosed brand of hockey.  He’s not shy to use his 6’2 frame to shield the puck, battle in the corners, and create time and space to make plays.  He also brings a wealth of experience to any hockey lineup, having split the past six seasons between the NHL and American Hockey League.  The added experience of being a Memorial Cup and Calder Cup Champion also gives him an edge.  Chaput is currently playing in Utica with the Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, and is using his time effectively to help him and his teammates reach the next level. 

Chaput was born in Ile Bizard, Quebec, Canada, which is just outside Montreal, and began playing hockey as far back as he remembers.  “My father was a hockey player and so were my two older brothers. I think when I was around the age of 14 or 15 playing midget hockey, that’s when I knew I wanted to try and make it somewhere in hockey,” said Chaput.

Naturally, his hockey family has been a great influence on his career.  Although he remembers as a youngster looking up to Peter Forsberg and Eric Lindros, “for the most part I think my older brother, Stephane, who played professional hockey was my biggest influence. We would work out every summer together to prepare for the next season.” 

Chaput excelled at the junior level and played four seasons in the QMJHL split between the Lewiston MAINEiacs and Shawinigan Cataractes. 

After a season in which he posted 55 points in 68 games, Chaput was drafted in the 3rd round (89th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. “The draft was in Los Angeles and I was there with a few of my family members.  I was kind of surprised to get drafted by the Flyers because I had not spoken to them prior to the draft.”

Chaput bested his point total the following season, recording 59 points in 62 games before being traded to Shawinigan during the off-season, where the team was loading up for a playoff run.  The move paid off for Chaput as the Cataractes would go on to win the Memorial Cup and where Chaput was awarded the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player of the tournament.  “The Memorial Cup was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever been a part of.  The fact that we were playing in front of our home crowd made it that much better.  I’ll remember the tournament and my teammates for the rest of my life. Winning the MVP trophy was definitely something huge that I am really proud of.  That said, hockey is a team sport, and I could not have won it without my teammates.

In 2011, Chaput was part of a trade that sent him to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  On the heels of a Memorial Cup Championship and MVP honors, Chaput was assigned to the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate in Springfield to start the 2012-13 season which would ease in the transition to his pro career.  “I think the biggest aspect was going from living with a billet family to now living on my own.  In terms of hockey, the difference was the speed and size of the players in pro hockey. My first year in the AHL went really well and I was lucky to live with David Savard who was a really good friend of mine.  He made the transition much easier.  My time in Springfield helped me mature as a person and a player.”

The following season, Chaput’s solid play in Springfield earned him a call-up by the Blue Jackets.  His NHL dream had come true.  He recalls his first NHL game and the valuable lessons he learned during the 17 games he played in the big league that season. “It was an amazing feeling to finally play my first NHL game which was a childhood dream of mine. Those first games helped me with my overall development as a professional, and I learned a ton from just being around the veteran guys,” explained Chaput who recorded an assist and two penalty minutes during that time.

Although he would be reassigned back to Springfield, Chaput persisted in his quest to reach the NHL again, which he did the following year, playing 33 games including scoring his first NHL goal.  “It was incredible, I remember reaching for a rebound and I knew the goalie would be out of position so I just tried to shoot it as quick as I could, and it went in.”

WATCH: Michael Chaput score his first NHL goal

Aside from his first season at the pro level, Chaput has split every season of pro between the AHL and NHL. Any professional athlete will tell you that the emotional ride takes its toll although comes with the territory.  It’s about overcoming the adversity and keeping a positive approach that separates players at the pro level.  “I think the main thing is you have to stay positive no matter what. Sometimes it’s hard and you kind of get down on yourself when things don’t go your way. However, during those times you have to remember what brought you to where you are now. That is what you use as motivation. I’m also really lucky to have tremendous support from my family who has been there through every recall and every reassignment.”

In 2016, Chaput gained further invaluable experience while with the Lake Erie Monsters who would on to win the Calder Cup that season, and where Chaput played an integral role on a dynamic team known for its strong chemistry on and off the ice.  “The guys on that team got along very well. I think the whole journey of the playoffs is what made it so fun and memorable.”

Hitting the free agent market following his Calder Cup win, Chaput signed with the Vancouver Canucks on the first day of free agency where he registered nine points in 68 games.  He added another 13 points in 10 games in the AHL with Utica that season.   He has continued to split time between Utica and Vancouver this season, and candidly acknowledged that “to stay in the lineup night in night out, you have to play every shift at 100%, especially for guys like me. You can never afford to take a night off.”

He wisely utilizes his time in the AHL to develop and hone his game.  “There are always things you can get better at.  For example, I like to work on my face-offs and shoot extra pucks after practice.”

While in Vancouver, Chaput enjoyed the great atmosphere of the city, the passionate fans and the dynamic of the team. “Vancouver is a great city. I think it’s also a good experience for younger guys to be able to play with and follow the example of players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin.”

Chaput continues to be a valuable resource for the Canucks regardless of whether he is in Vancouver or Utica.  A reliable, experienced, and proven two-way player who can contribute on the score sheet and off the ice.  He notes he is grateful for the help and support he has received throughout his pro career from the Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA).  “They provide a great service, a number of programs, and I know have helped out some of my teammates in the past.  It’s reassuring to know we have a strong union looking out for us which allows us to focus on our game.”

With the Comets standing second in the North Division, the team is gearing up for a playoff run and will undoubtedly benefit from the presence of a player like Chaput.  The Canucks have a number of talented prospects currently playing in Utica that are benefiting from his leadership and championship experience.

Whether this season awaits more games in the NHL or a Calder Cup run, Chaput is deeply focused, committed, and ready to bring it each and every shift, as he has done throughout his entire career.


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