NORTH Vancouver's Mark Dekanich is a lot of things - husband, prolific Tweeter, liberal arts nerd, white knight - but one title he's aspired to but never attained is that of a fulltime NHL player.
That should change this year as the 25-year-old goaltender starts the 2011-12 season with a new team - the Columbus Blue Jackets - and a new oneway contract that should keep him in the NHL for good this year.
Drafted in 2006 by the Nashville Predators, Dekanich found himself low on the depth chart behind a number of talented goalies and managed to crack the team's lineup for just one 50-minute stint in a regular season game, spending the rest of his time putting up stellar numbers in the minors.
This summer he became a free agent and was quickly scooped up by Columbus and is slated to back up starting goalie Steve Mason - Dekanich's one-way contract means that he gets paid the same whether he is in the minors or the NHL, a telltale sign that the Blue Jackets want him in the big leagues. It's been a bit of a long journey for the Argyle grad but he's ready to make the most of his opportunity.
"I think I'm more than ready," Dekanich told the North Shore News in a phone interview last week from Columbus where he was already working out with teammates more than two weeks before training camp officially begins. "I don't have much more to prove in the minor leagues, I've worked my whole life to put myself in this spot. I know I'm ready and I'm just looking forward to an opportunity and a chance."
Getting the one-way contract offer from Columbus - reportedly worth $575,000 for one year - gives Dekanich some security he didn't have before.
"It makes me feel good and confident in my own abilities knowing that this organization thinks I can play and they put themselves out there to sign a contract like this," he said. "It's nice to know, but at the same time I still have to make the team, I still have to have a good camp and play well and earn my spot, which is fine with me, I'm used to that. I'm just going to go into camp and work hard and do my thing."
Dekanich's interest in stability is more than just a career move - this summer he got married. The wedding, in fact, took place about one hour after he finalized his contract with the Blue Jackets. He became an unrestricted free agent at noon on Friday, July 1 and his wedding was the next day.
"I agreed to terms at about 3: 30 p.m. Friday and that was about half an hour before my rehearsal dinner, and I got the email with my contract in it and signed it an hour before the ceremony," he said.
With the ink barely dry on his new hockey contract Dekanich signed the rest of his life over to his bride Elizabeth, a fellow Colgate University alum from the Washington, D.C. area. The wedding was held on the Colgate campus and Dekanich rocked the ceremony in an all-white suit.
"I sort of wanted to wear white for my wedding since I was a kid so I told (Elizabeth) she had no choice on that, I was going to wear the all white," he said with a laugh. "She didn't care. I thought I looked sharp."
It wasn't a totally traditional look, but Dekanich has defied tradition for a long time. Shunning the regular junior hockey route, Dekanich choose instead to go to Colgate, a private liberal arts college in Hamilton, N.Y. There he racked up 52 wins and a bachelor's degree with a major in history and minors in sociology and anthropology. He's not necessarily planning on becoming an anthro-socio historian when he's done with hockey but he's thrilled with his decision to go to school.
"I think personally for me the best decision I ever made was to go to Colgate, in terms of personally and in the hockey career," he said. "It just gives people more time to develop as players and as people, I'm really glad I choose to do that instead of go play junior. Academics were important for me."
Dekanich puts those wits to good use on his entertaining Twitter feed. Follow @dexshow to get a look at NHL life on and off the ice as the Blue Jackets open training camp Sept. 16.