San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is ending his 2016-17 season the way it began: representing his country. Vlasic is once again suiting up for Canada, this time at the World Championships in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France, eight months after he was part of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey-winning squad.
He is one of four Canadian players (Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux, and Ryan O’Reilly are the other three) to have suited up for Canada at both the World Cup and World Championships. That experience helped propel Canada to the knockout rounds, where they’ll take on tournament co-hosts Germany today at 8:15 AM PST.
Canada won all but one of its games in the group stage, an overtime loss to Switzerland the lone blemish on their record. They easily topped Group B, and outscored opponents 32-10 in the preliminary round.
Vlasic chipped in on two of those goals, with a goal and an assist to his name in the first round. He scored the game-winning goal against France last Thursday, benefiting from a rather fortunate bounce off of the boards and a French defender.
He’s even spent time with a familiar face on the blueline in France and Germany: former Shark Jason Demers. Yes, Vlasic has come home to Daddy.
The two played on the same pairing in Canada’s first four games, reuniting a pairing that posted excellent possession numbers in parts of six seasons together in San Jose (56.51 5v5 CF%, 57.49 5v5 FF%, adjusted for score, venue, and zone). Thankfully for Sharks fans longing for Demers, head coach Jon Cooper split the pairing upon Colton Parayko’s arrival at the tournament, and played Vlasic and Parayko together over the last three games of the preliminary round.
With a win today against Germany, Vlasic and Canada will be two wins away from their third consecutive gold medal at the World Championships. Canada has managed three such steaks in the competition’s history, but the most recent one ended in 1952.
Vlasic will also be a step closer to a milestone. If Vlasic and Canada win gold, Vlasic will be a Stanley Cup shy of joining the 27 players in the “Triple Gold Club,” which consists of the only players to have won a Stanley Cup, a gold medal at the Olympics, and a gold medal at the World Championships.
The defenseman’s had a long season, and may have struggled in part because of it. But, Vlasic bookmarking his season with wins in international tournaments will likely take off some of the sting of San Jose’s stretch run struggles and first round exit.