MONTREAL – There was one notable absence from the Sharks’ team meeting at Bell Centre on Friday.
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was not on the charter from Toronto on Thursday night, instead flying into Quebec City on Friday morning. He’ll have his number 44 retired by the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts later Friday night in a pregame ceremony.
Vlasic is just the fourth player to have his number retired by the club, joining the legendary Guy Lafleur, former NHL All-Star Simon Gagne and Alexander Radulov. During his three years there from 2003-2006, Vlasic compiled 113 points (22g, 91a), a +86 rating, and helped them win a Memorial Cup in 2006.
“It’s an awesome honor,” said Vlasic, who was informed of the team’s plans over the summer. “It’s hard to believe my number will be up there with those three other players.”
Vlasic’s Sharks defense partner, Justin Braun, said: “It’s pretty cool to have that happen at any level. It’s not every day you’re going to get your jersey retired for any team, and it’s exciting for him. We’re happy for him and the chance to get to do that.”
Vlasic will re-join his teammates, of course, for their morning skate on Saturday as they prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens.
“I hope he comes back rested and focused,” Todd McLellan said. “He should enjoy his night there, but the task at hand is with his teammates here. That’s where his focus and his energy have to go.
“It’s a real good honor for him and it’s nice of his junior team to be doing that, but in the same breath, when it gets to the rafters I want his mind coming back to his teammates. That’s where it belongs right now.”
Vlasic was drafted by the Sharks in the second round of the 2005 draft, and made the team as a 19-year-old rookie in 2006-07. He is currently second on the team in games played by a defenseman (666), second in points (186), and helped Canada win a gold medal at last year’s Olympics.