Former Moncton Wildcats captain Jonathan Aspirot is living the dream.
Aspirot’s unscripted journey to the American Hockey League is truly remarkable.
From the 4th round 69th overall in the 2015 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, to the Moncton Wildcats line up as a forward, to a game changing hard nosed gritty leader and two-way defencemen, Jonathan Aspirot was always a difference maker for the Wildcats.
The Ottawa Senators signed the twenty-year-old free agent defender to a two-year American Hockey League contract on September 19th much to the chagrin of many Wildcats faithful.
Obviously they were elated for Aspirot, but his departure last left a big void in the Cats backend.
Jonathan Aspirot has always taken full advantage of every opportunity that came his way on the road less travelled to accomplish his dream. He did it the hard way that’s what makes his journey to the pro ranks so special.
Now that the Wildcats are on a Championship trajectory does the Mascouche, Quebec product regret his decision to turn pro?
“No,” Aspirot said without hesitation.
“I made my decision for my part. Moncton is having a great season, they are going really well.”
“I’m really happy with my decision and I’m enjoying my time here a lot,” confessed Aspirot who has appeared in 13 games this season with the Belleville Senators and scored his first professional goal on October 19 exactly one month following his signing.
“I’m having a lot of fun and learning a lot playing here, so it’s the best for me.”
How big is the step from the QMJHL to the AHL?
“The biggest difference is the speed and the execution on the ice,” Aspirot said.
“Everything is happening and is coming at you way faster than in junior.”
“You have to have the idea before you receive the puck and make the right play at the right time.”
Aspirot is quick to credit the Wildcats organization for playing an instrumental role in playing at the next level.
“Moncton did an unbelievable job preparing us.”
“From dealing with the media, to getting ready and being a pro on and off the ice. Every little thing they showed you is important to learn and can definitely be applied.”
Rumours of Aspirot’s return to the junior ranks spread like wild fire as soon as Jeremy McKenna came back into the fold, nevertheless, there’s no question the twenty year old loves it in Belleville and is committed to process and credits his Senator teammates for helping with transition.
“I think all the veterans and all the other young guys get you through the road trips and are helping us with the schedule,” explained Aspirot.
“It’s a bit different than junior, you are on your own a lot more and everything, but all of the vets talk to you and help you get through stuff or if you have any questions they are always there.”
There’s something special brewing in the Ottawa Senators organization. The Belleville Senators are one of the youngest teams in the AHL and there is a definite mindset and culture shift happening within the organization.
It’s clear the Senators are building towards the future and giving young skilled character players an opportunity to showcase their skill set at every level.
That’s growth, that’s development and that’s exactly how you create and culture of winning.
Aspirot’s days of junior hockey are in his rear view mirror, nevertheless does he still follow the Cats and stay in touch with his former teammates and friends?
“I still stay in contact with some of the players, playing there for three seasons with a lot of the same guys we have become good friends.”
“I’ve send them texts to see how the season has been going and they ask me how things are going on my side as well.”
Aspirot’s journey to the professional ranks could be written as a Hollywood script.
From all the ups and downs, to plot twists and turns Jonathan Aspirot’s character was truly revealed throughout his three-year journey in the Q.
Aspirot accepted playing a different position to remain in the QMJHL during his rookie season just to secure a roster position on the team.
That’s character. That’s sacrifice. That’s Jonathan Aspirot.
The quiet soft-spoken shy kid simply came to play, night in night out. It didn’t really matter what position or role he was thrust into, the one constant in the Wildcats line up was Jonathan Aspirot.
So how special is it to play professionally and be so close to the ultimate dream of one day playing in the NHL?
“It’s a great a feeling.”
“Everything you have been working for all summer and everything that you worked for as a kid. It’s just a real good feeling that you are almost there.”
“You just have to keep working on every aspect of your game to get better if I want to get to the next level.”
“I’m working on every little detail to get better, so I can improve,” stressed Aspirot.
So what did it mean to him and his family to have the opportunity to turn pro at twenty.
“It was great,” Aspirot said of signing the two year contract with the Senators organization.
“It gives you a little bit of comfort knowing that your going to be there next year as well.”
“It’s great to have that, but I have to keep working super hard to prove to them I can play.”
“It’s a dream come true.”
“All those hours they put in when I was young and training all summer and helping me to get better at my sport and my dream, it’s just a dream come true.”
Aspirot’s time in Moncton and the junior ranks still holds a special place in his heart.
“It was the overall thing,” Aspirot said if his fondest memory of playing for the Wildcats.
“It was a great organization.”
“Everything we did was professional, and you get treated as a professional.”
“All three years there were just great.”
Did the highly skilled ever think he would get this far in the game?
“At that time I didn’t really think about,” confessed Aspirot who started with the Cats during their epic rebuild.
“I was just trying to think about playing my game and going game to game, and step by step, but I never lost faith in my ability.”
“I knew I could play higher and I kept getting better and I think that’s important.”
What would it mean to the former Wildcats captain to see his former team win a President Cup and Memorial Cup?
“That would be great,” confessed Aspirot.
“The boys in Moncton deserve it and Mr.Irving deserves it as well.”
“It would be unbelievable.”
“I would try to go see some of the boys with the Cup and have fun with them after they win it.”
From a fourth line energy player and penalty killer to a mainstay on the blueline, to a leader and trusted captain, Jonathan Aspirot’s character, compete level and passion for the game is unparalleled.
The journey to the pro ranks maybe complete, but you can guarantee that Jonathan Aspirot will never forget all the attributes responsible for fuelling his journey to the pros.
Resiliency, adaptability, character and an unwavering work ethic.
That’s Jonathan Aspirot.
What advice would Aspirot serve up to players in the QMJHL on a similar path to his?
“Never give up and it’s never over until you hang up your skates.”
“Every day do your thing, you have to work hard on all the little details and get better.”
“I would also tell them never to look down, always look forward and stay positive.”