Hard work pays off.
Paris native Zac Dalpe has been playing the tough minutes for the Vancouver Canucks this season on the fourth line – sometimes playing as little as five minutes per game.
But that changed this past week, when Dalpe was given a shot on the team’s top line with twin superstars Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin.
“I don’t want to say it’s a permanent thing – it was a decision made during a game and it ended up benefitting the team,” Dalpe said in an interview with Brant News. “But it’s so cool to be playing with these world-class players. I hope to continue to help the offence and stay there a while longer.”
In his very first game with the Sedins, Dalpe tipped a shot from Daniel past St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott for his second goal of the season – and his second goal in January.
“Getting this experience on the top line is something to build off of,” Dalpe said. “Even if I get bumped back down, later on down the road I will know I can play there. When the decision needs to be made again, I’ll be thrown back into the mix.”
Coach John Tortorella is notorious in the NHL for his tough style, but Dalpe said he is a big fan of the attitude Tortorella instills in the team.
“He is firm, but he is very fair,” Dalpe said. “As much as he is demanding, he is rewarding. He focuses on the little plays that other people don’t see that are important. I think it’s helped us a lot.
“We may not be top three in the division right now, but I think it’s working.”
The plays away from the puck are what Dalpe is focused on mastering this season.
“Being a guy that has played four years of pro now and knowing my goal remains to stay playing full time in the NHL, I’m really focused on consistency,” Dalpe said. “That means playing without the puck. I am getting the importance of defence and making the right plays away from the puck.”
Dalpe is also embracing the fame and attention that comes with playing for a Canadian NHL franchise.
He was the star of an online video that generated a lot of views when he and the other first-year Canucks sang on stage with Sarah McLachlan during a December benefit show. Dalpe, who is no stranger to singing or music, gets prompted by McLachlan to do a solo in the video.
“The idea is that we are supposed to be embarrassed and look silly on stage, but I didn’t want to make a joke of it because I’m an undercover aspiring musician,” Dalpe said. “I did my best to keep up with her and I’m glad it’s on video for years to come.”
He also professes his love for McLachlan in the video.
“I meant to say ‘I love your voice,’” Dalpe said. “But it came out as ‘I love you.’ That’s not exactly the kind of thing the guys will let me live down.”
Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008, the Canucks traded for Dalpe this past summer.
A fringe benefit of playing in B.C. is that Dalpe’s younger brother, Ben, is nearby. Ben is also chasing his hockey dream out west.
Ben plays for the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League and has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York next season.
But in the meantime, Zac enjoys having his younger brother so close.
“It’s pretty weird that I get to see my brother considering I live out in Vancouver, but I’m very happy with it,” Dalpe said. “(Ben) will come up to Vancouver and stay at my place when he has some time and he’ll catch some of my games.”