Appreciate Burns, but don’t forget about Vlasic
A guy like Brent Burns is naturally going to get a lot of attention.
I mean, just look at him.
That hair, that beard, all those tattoos -- not to mention that shot of his. He’s a unique, enjoyable athlete and person, and that’s why he gets the big spread in Sports Illustrated.
But just remember, only one Sharks defenseman has already been named to Team Canada’s World Cup squad, and it’s not Burns.
In case you were searching for the name, it’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
“I think the fact he’s one of the first four defensemen named to Team Canada should scream to everybody how good this guy is, but for some reason, it doesn’t,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said, per Postmedia.
“He’s just one of those guys ... he can go through a whole game without making a mistake. We re-watch the video after every game and it’s amazing how many nights I’ll walk out after a second viewing of a game and realize that the guy touched the puck 50 times and didn’t make a mistake. That’s so rare.”
They used to call Nick Lidstrom “The Perfect Human” for his ability to make the right play time and time again. Not to suggest Vlasic is in Lidstrom’s class -- who is? -- but you get the point. Vlasic may not be flashy, but when he’s out there, the coaching staff knows exactly what it’s gonna get, and that’s a big reason he cracked Team Canada’s Olympic squad in 2010.
“What I know about [Mike Babcock] from the Olympics is he likes predictability,” Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong said back in March. “He likes to know that he can play a player in any situation.”
“You really have to watch him to appreciate how good night-in and night-out he is,” said DeBoer.
Suffice to say, there aren’t many teams with two defensemen that are good enough to crack Canada’s blue line. In 2010, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook made the cut from Chicago. In 2014, it was Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo from St. Louis.
We’ll find out later this month if Burns makes it. His main competition is Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, and Kris Letang.
It’ll be a tough call. Canada has a lot of good defensemen.
Just don’t forget about Vlasic, because he’s pretty good, too.