Since the NHL All-Star break began, Marc-Edouard Vlasic has racked up some frequent flyer miles. He, along with Devin Setoguchi, Tomas Plihal and Thomas Greiss, flew across the country to spend the weekend with the Worcester Sharks, San Jose’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.
Three of these players (Setoguchi, Plihal and Greiss) have made this trip a few times this season. However, this was Vlasic’s first visit to Worcester.
When Vlasic arrived for training camp in 2006, most presumed he would be returned to Quebec of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He surprised everyone and stuck with the big club, leading all NHL rookies in ice time per game and playing in 81 of 82 games.
Even had Vlasic’s play dictated otherwise, he could not have been assigned to the AHL per the NHL’s working agreement with the Canadian Hockey League.
This year, the Sharks took advantage of the All-Star break to give Vlasic more experience. For just one game, he logged about 5,200 air miles and a few bus rides. However, the experience gave Vlasic a taste of what his professional life could’ve been if he didn’t remain in San Jose.
“I landed in Hartford and was tired,” said Vlasic, noting his fatigue was from Thursday night’s win over St. Louis. “The bus rides were not long, about 45 minutes to an hour. Almost like a ride from Anaheim’s rink to the airport.”
Vlasic learned a few things from his one-game AHL experience, where he posted two assists and was a plus-1.
“The speed and execution are a lot different,” said Vlasic. “It was a good experience. Sometimes guys aren’t in the right place. It’s easier in the NHL because everyone is in the right spot.”
The foursome was available to play in two games. However, Vlasic was given a pass on the first night.
“I just played in one game on Saturday,” said Vlasic. “I got the first one off. I was surprised when Roy (Sommer, Worcester’s head coach) said to take it off.”
Vlasic’s presence didn’t go unnoticed by Worcester’s opponents, the Springfield Falcons, Edmonton’s AHL affiliate, who lost to the Sharks, 5-4.
“Sometimes, there would be two guys on you in the corners,” said Vlasic. “They wanted to rip you head off.”
Upon returning to the big club on Sunday, Vlasic hopped on the club’s Monday flight to Edmonton, taking in almost 1,200 more air miles. While the chartered air travel was nice, the weather wasn’t. Edmonton’s high on Monday was minus-18 degrees. The low was minus-26.
Weather plays no favorites in the NHL or AHL.
“It’s freezing,” said Vlasic about Edmonton’s weather conditions. “It’s minus-40 with the wind chill.”
SHARKS FOUNDATION AWARD The Sharks Foundation is pleased to announce Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen as one of 14 Sharks Foundation beneficiaries for this season and will present a check in the amount of $23,000 to the local nonprofit, whose goal is to provide free, nutritious meals and support services in a dignified, safe, and caring environment. They provide these services to all needy individuals in Santa Clara County, with special concern for families and senior citizens.
“The families who come to Loaves & Fishes come from impoverished households and often times don’t have a lot to look forward to. That’s why Loaves & Fishes is so important to the community. We feed about 200 people per night and the Sharks Foundation aids us by providing financial support for purchasing new equipment and setting up a new location. When S.J. Sharkie comes out and visits with the kids, it is so moving it brings tears to my eyes,” said Loaves & Fishes Executive Director Christina Egan.
Loaves & Fishes was founded in 1980 to help meet the needs of our community's families and seniors. Since their initial meal, served to 26 guests on Feb. 15, 1980, they have continuously expanded their outreach. Today, they serve five meals each week at their two kitchen locations, which totals to an average of 200 guests per meal.
“The work that Loaves & Fishes carries out week after week is vital to our community and we know the equipment being purchased with the Sharks Foundation grant will be integral to their efforts. We couldn’t be prouder to work with such an amazing organization,” said Sharks Foundation Manager Laura Johnston.
The Foundation funding will be used to purchase critical kitchen equipment necessary for the storage and safe preparation of more than 60,000 meals for those in need in the downtown and east San Jose areas.
For those Sharks fans who may wish to get involved with Loaves & Fishes, there are several ways to assist: ~ Become a volunteer by helping with all aspects of the meals, including setting up the dining room for dinner, preparing the meal, serving and clean up. The time commitment for each meal is about 2.5-3 hours. ~ Participate in the Grocery Bag Program by distributing food bags to families or find out more about special holiday programs such as Senior Brunch, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and Parent Shopping Day in December. ~Support the program financially. Donations are welcomed at any level from individuals, organizations, companies or foundations.
For more information on Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, to volunteer or make a donation, please visit www.loavesfishes.org or call Christina Egan at (408) 934-4990.