One of my favorite memories as a Sharks fan was being at the Tank when Marc-Edouard Vlasic made his debut with the San Jose Sharks. Whenever My mom and I go to games, the first thing we always do is march through the concourse to get a stat sheet from the information table. When we got our stat sheets that night, my mom pointed at a peculiar name. “Vlasic? That’s strange.”
“Why?” I asked in return.
“I dunno, Vlasic… It just reminds me of the pickle company, Vlasic Pickles…”
The woman behind the counter who gave us our sheets actually laughed. “I hadn’t even noticed that!” She smiled at us.
Fast forward six years, and you can’t talk to a Sharks fan without “Pickles” coming up.
Now, I’m not saying my mom coined the nickname. Vlasic has built a name for himself with the Sharks. His precision defensive play, coupled with his value, have led to “Pickles” slowly becoming something of a phenomenon across the league. His stellar play last fall earned him an NHL.com’s Second Star of the Week selection in November 2011, after getting seven points in seven games (1G/6A) with a +/- rating of +7.
When news broke yesterday that San Jose Sharks defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic had signed a five-year extension with the team, I almost did a backflip in my chair. Re-signing Vlasic was a high priority of Wilson’s this offseason, and securing his future with the team comes as a breath of relief to Sharks fans everywhere.
At 25, Vlasic’s career stats are sterling. Over six NHL seasons (all in teal), he already has a +/- of 62 and 133 points. In a team with a flooded history of doubt, uncertainty, and inconsistency, Vlasic has been an anchor on the blue line. His rise in TOI average over the past two seasons has been met with a burst of productivity, including a career-best 23 points this last season. He has also been one of the most consistent faces on the team, playing in nearly every regular-season game each year.
Wilson couldn’t have negotiated this deal any better than he did. At $21.25 million over five years with a $4.25 million cap hit, Vlasic’s contract is a steal given the value of players with his talent in the modern NHL. More importantly, Vlasic is less concerned with finances and more dedicated to his growth and focus with the team. He and San Jose appear to have a great working relationship, both on and off the ice.
What has me more excited is the prospect of Vlasic training alongside newly hired Assistant Coach (and former defensemen) Larry Robinson. Working with Robinson will no doubt further this talented blue-liner’s game, and help push his talents to a higher level this upcoming season. I cannot wait to see what the next five years hold for #44, and hope he continues to play his branded shutdown style of play.
A star defensemen, loving his team, his front office, and the town he plays for. All at the low, low price of $4.25 million.
That’s one damn good jar of Pickles.
Blades of Teal ~ The Final Word On Sharks Hockey.