Mike Santorelli has had a very interesting hockey career. The Vancouver, BC native played in one season with the Vipers but had a career that led him to the National Hockey League and the opportunity to play for his hometown team.
Santorelli played one year with the Vipers in 2003-04 at age 17. He played the 2002-03 season with the Langley Hornets and had 52 points as a 16-year-old.
In his sophomore BCHL season, Santorelli saw a huge increase to 96 points on the strength of 43 goals and 53 assists in 60 games. He also had two points in the playoffs. At the end of the 2003-04 season, Santorelli left Vernon and joined Northern Michigan University in the NCAA.
Making his mark in NCAA hockey before going pro
Santorelli played in three seasons with the NMU Wildcats in the NCAA. In his rookie season, he had 16 goals and 30 points in 40 games. In the 2005-06 season, Santorelli increased his point total to 33, posting 15 goals and 18 assists. Santorelli continued to improve on his totals the following season and hit 47 points in 41 games.
Santorelli’s play caught the eyes of the Nashville Predators and he was selected in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Draft. He left the NCAA at the end of the 2006-07 season and turned pro in September 2007 with the Milwaukee Admirals, who were Nashville’s American Hockey League affiliate.
In his rookie season in Milwaukee, Santorelli played in 80 games and had 42 points as a 21-year-old. At the start of the 2008-09 season, Santorelli got a taste of the NHL, spending the first seven games with the Preds, but didn’t register any points.
He was sent back to Milwaukee and managed a point per game pace with 70 points in 70 games. In the 2009-10 season, Santorelli began in the NHL and recorded his first three points. He played 25 games before being sent back to the AHL, posting 59 points in 57 games with the Admirals.
Taking his talents to South Beach
On Aug. 5, 2010, Santorelli was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. In 2010-11, he played his first full NHL season and had a respectable 41 points in 82 games. The following season with the Panthers, Santorelli had nine goals and two assists in 60 games.
The 2012-13 season was shortened due to an NHL lockout. Before the League and Player’s Association came to an agreement, Santorelli played in Sweden with Tingsryds AIF in Hockey Allsvenskan. He had a single point in four games.
When the lockout ended, Santorelli notched three points in 24 games with Florida. He was sent down to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio, Texas, where he posted five points in seven games.
Santorelli was waived by the Panthers in April 2013 and was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets. He played in 10 games with the Jets to wrap his four-team season.
A brief homecoming to the Canucks
Santorelli signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013.
It was the first time since he played with the Vipers that Santorelli was back home with a team in British Columbia. He only played in 49 games for the Canucks in 2013-14 and finished with 10 goals and 18 assists. His season was cut short due to shoulder surgery that kept Santorelli out for more than five months.
Santorelli joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014. It was Santorelli’s fourth team in three years. In 2014-15, he had 29 points in 59 games.
Then, two weeks before the 2015 NHL trade deadline, Santorelli and Cody Franson were traded to Nashville for a 2015 first round pick, Brendan Leipsic, and Olli Jokinen. Santorelli had come full circle as he was back with the club that drafted him. He played in 22 games for the Predators after the deal and had four points. Santorelli also got to play in the playoffs for the first time in his NHL career that season.
In the offseason, Santorelli signed a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. He finished with 18 points in 70 games for the Ducks during the 2015-16 season.
After not being offered a contract by the Ducks, Santorelli signed a deal overseas with Geneve-Servette of the National League in Switzerland for the 2016-17 season. However, he only played in six games before an injury forced him to retire.
In 2019-20, Santorelli became the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club Prep in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League U18.
It’s a family affair for Santorelli, as his brother Mark, who played games in the BCHL with Chilliwack, Salmon Arm, and Burnaby, is one of the assistant coaches.
He helped BWC to a 27-7 record last season before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the CSSHL playoffs. The 2020-21 season was set to be his second year behind the bench for the Burnaby Winter Club.