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Viva Las Vegas

by Tony Khing / San Jose Sharks
Success hasn’t changed Logan Couture.

San Jose Sharks' Logan Couture celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Wednesday, May 18, 2011, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)
The Sharks center may be one of three finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League’s rookie of the year. The 22-year-old may have been selected as the PlayStation “Sharks Rookie of the Year.” And Couture may have been second on San Jose in goals (32) and power play goals (10).

But despite all of the honors and hype, Couture still considers his parent’s backyard as his favorite vacation spot. However, when recently talked to Couture, he was having a problem enjoying his leisure time. “It’s been raining a lot lately,” Couture said from his offseason home in London, Ontario. “I’m hoping the weather turns around.”

At least the sun will be shining on Couture all next week. He and his family – including his father, mother and grandmother -- and some close friends will be in Las Vegas for the 2011 NHL Awards Show on Wednesday (4 p.m., Pacific Time on Versus). Should Couture beat out fellow finalists Jeff Skinner of Carolina and the Islanders Michael Grabner, he’ll be the second Sharks player to receive the Calder (Evgeni Nabokov, 2001).

The Couture family will be arriving in Las Vegas on Monday and leaving on Thursday. Couture’s itinerary will include fulfilling some League commitments. One of those will be getting fitted for a suit. Couture will be one of six award nominees to be fitted for a suit designed by American menswear designer John Varvatos. The renowned designer, who dressed and styled five players at last year’s awards ceremony, will dress the players in suits, shirts, belts and shoes from his latest collections.

Aside from events tied into the ceremony, Couture’s spare time will be his own.

“I may do some shopping and see what Vegas has to offer,” Couture said. “I’ve been to Vegas once (last year). I stayed for three nights and just enjoyed the town. I don’t really gamble very much, so I hung out with some friends and went to a couple of pool parties.”

Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, just being a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy is a great way for Couture to complete what has been an almost perfect rookie season.

“I learned a lot,” Couture said. “I got the opportunity to play a ton. I learned the League and what it takes to be successful. I learned how hard it is to win in the playoffs.”

Being part of the annual NHL Awards Show is special. Couture will be a rookie only just once. But even though nearly a month has passed since the Sharks were eliminated in the Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against Vancouver, time hasn’t quite healed this wound.

San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (39) tries to deflect a shot in front of Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) in the third period of Game 6 of a second-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey game in Detroit, Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Detroit won 3-1. The series is tied at 3-3. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Right after Game 5, Couture posted the word “heartbreak” on his Twitter account. The pain is still there.

“That’s all I could think of. That’s all I could feel,” Couture said. “We all believed we were going to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it. We’ve been so close the last two years. We just want to take that next step. Hopefully, we can do that next year.”

Actually, except for the 2011 NHL Awards Show, next year is here for Couture. After taking almost a month off, Couture recently started working out to prepare for 2011-12. Unlike some of his teammates, Couture survived 40 days of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with just one injury: a broken nose, which happened in Game 3 of the Vancouver series.

Yes, 2010-11 was a very lucky and special year for Couture. While he’ll take a few days to celebrate his good fortunes, he’ll have one eye on the immediate and upcoming future.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in Vegas,” Couture said. “I’m actually looking more forward to the summer and getting ready for next year.”

Not to mention getting some good weather so he can enjoy his favorite vacation spot.

NOTES: Couture admitted to watching Game 7 of the Final between Boston and Vancouver, but turned off the television as Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara received the Stanley Cup…Couture said his only planned out-of-Ontario trip will be to Las Vegas. But that hasn’t stopped him from getting around the province. This past week, Couture was a participant at a celebrity softball game as part of the festivities for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction weekend. Couture, a Blue Jays fan, got three hits in the game off Canadian and American Baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins. By the way, one of the three inductees is relief ace Tom Henke, who helped Toronto win the 1992 World Series. Couture wasn’t the only NHLer participating in the contest. Former NHL forward and now Nashville Predators television analyst Terry Crisp was also present…Besides Nabokov, one Sharks player was a finalist for the Calder. In 2000, Brad Stuart finished second to New Jersey’s Scott Gomez.

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