A gold medal - but no Stanley Cup

Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson
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Marc-Édouard Vlasic talks about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat

It’s from his California home that Beaconsfield’s Marc-Édouard Vlasic talked to the West Island Chronicle of his bustling hockey season – from getting a gold medal placed around his neck in Sochi to losing a seemingly piece-of-cake playoff series against Los Angeles Kings.

Vlasic has been playing for the San Jose Sharks since he got drafted, in 2006.

The San Jose Sharks defenseman agreed that he had quite a year. During game 4 of the playoffs – one series the Sharks were thought to win with a 3-0 advance – Vlasic was badly injured after being hit by LA’s Jarret Stoll. An elbow to the head resulted in an “upper body injury” while he sustained a torn knee ligament while falling down. The Sharks never recovered and lost the playoffs series.

“When guys get injured, the team fights to fill out the holes, but this time, there were a lot of different factors that cost us victory,” said Vlasic. It wasn’t easy for him to become a spectator and not be able to do anything to help his team, but the doctors were adamant – no way he was coming back to play the Kings.

“I might have missed the second round, only to come back in third,” he admitted. The doctors say he needs from six to nine weeks of rest, but even before the docs’ diagnosis, he knew what was up. “I’ve had the same injury twice before,” he recalled.

The 27 year old player was dubbed one of the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL – Hockeybuzz, Nhlnumbers and InsideHockey all agreed. He’s maybe not as flamboyant as some but he’s very talented at what he does. Talented enough to have been named on Canada’s Olympic team.

“As an athlete, that recognition is incredible,” stating that its an opportunity that presents itself only once every four years – if ever. “It’s harder to get an Olympic gold then the Stanley Cup”, he responded when asked which was most important to him. “They are both priceless, but different.” But the Stanley Cup remains the little kid’s dream – the reason why he played hockey in the first place.

Mostly recognized on the West coast, East coasters discovered who the hockey player was when it was announced that he was picked on Canada’s Olympic hockey team. “The games here (in California) are really late and we don’t play much against eastern teams,” Vlasic accepted.

In Sochi, “eastern Canada reporters” would come up to Vlasic and talked to him for the first time – even though he’s been in the NHL for 8 years already. The 27 year old has never sought recognition or fame. He’s a team player, admitting that it was his being drafted on Canada team that helped get his name out here.

“If it hadn’t been for that, I could have spent another eight anonymous years in the NHL,” he joked. The unexpected fame is not what he remembers of his time in Russia. He could not believe he got to play against the world’s greatest hockey players – and come out victorious.

“It was such a great experience for me, but also my parents and wife,” he said. He was sad to not be able to bring his brothers in Russia, and remembered his early years when his dad and his brother would play hockey in the backyard – the family had a skating rink made for the boys.

Summer fun and games haven’t quite started yet for the defense man, who still has about four weeks of forced downtime. Then, its physiotherapy and making sure he’s 100% recovered. He’s very positive about the whole ordeal, knowing he will be just fine.

Vlasic will also be planning a trip in Montreal, to visit his family and friends.

Organizations: NHL, San Jose Sharks, Kings

Geographic location: Canada, Russia, Sochi Montreal

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