Marleau was brains behind 'the tusk'


Marleau was brains behind 'the tusk'

SAN JOSE- Wondering just how on Earth the Sharks players came up with the idea of giving their captain a wooly mammoth's tusk in honor of his 1000th NHL game?

Joe Thornton gave credit on Friday to Patrick Marleau, who explained the process.

"I did the research to try and find it for him. Obviously, I got some ideas from his wife and some other players who knew that he was into history," said Marleau. "It worked out good."

And just how hard is it to find one of these things in such good condition?

"There were a few phone calls, and lots of emails," he said. "Not too bad, but I learned a lot about wooly mammoth tusks while I was researching it, that's for sure."

Thornton was just as shocked as the sellout crowd at HP Pavilion when he found out what the team was gifting him.

"When I heard I got it, I was just like, 'wow.' It's something neat and it's going to be a discussion piece for a long, long time now."

Thornton said after the 4-3 win over the Penguins that the team touched the tusk on its way out to the ice before the second period, and then rallied from two goals down to win. He admitted on Friday that was just a joke, but maybe they'll keep it around anyway.

"I think it might have to stay in the building now," he said. "It might be in our locker room for the year."

The tusk was certainly the most noticeable of Thornton's gifts, the list of which we mentioned yesterday. There is one more to add, though - a framed album signed by The Doors, one of his favorite bands, that his wife gave to him.

"I've been pretty lucky with getting gifts. As long as you're a good boy, it feels like Christmas came early this year," he said.

Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out


Young Sharks fitting in, not neccessarily standing out


The message for the San Jose Sharks’ prospects was quite clear this offseason.

After general manager opted not to re-sign Patrick Marleau, or sign any free agents of consequence, it was readily apparent the Sharks would need to rely on their young players to fill any holes.

Before the quarter mark of the season, that youth movement is underway. Five first or second-year players will suit up at SAP Center Monday night against Anaheim. 

Partially, the infusion is due to injury, as Barclay Goodrow, Melker Karlsson, and Paul Martin are all on the mend. But as the season wears on, the young players’ presence is becoming a necessity. 

Joakim Ryan looks like a natural fit alongside Brent Burns, and the Sharks are a decidedly better puck possession team with him on the ice than when he’s not. Tim Heed leads Sharks defensemen in scoring, and Danny O’Regan assisted San Jose’s lone goal in his season debut on Saturday. 

That assist set up the goal that ended Timo Meier’s drought, and he looks primed to break out: he’s third on the team in five-on-five shots despite playing the ninth-fewest five-on-five minutes this season, according to Corsica Hockey.  Kevin Labanc’s cooled off since his scorching start, but is still tied for sixth on the team in scoring and skated on the top line at Monday’s morning skate, according to the Bay Area News Group’s Curtis Pashelka.

There’s still room for improvement, of course. Labanc and Meier could stand to score more, but the same can be said about most everyone else. Ryan’s made his fair share of mistakes, but Burns has struggled plenty of times alongside him, too. 

So the young players are fitting in, even if all of them aren’t necessarily standing out. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. 

Meier’s the only first-round pick of the lot, but he’s also only been able to legally buy a beer for a month. Ryan and Heed have made the best adjustment, in no small part because they’re the oldest (24 and 26, respectively) of the Barracuda call-ups, and thus have the most professional experience. 

Of course, fitting in isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, far from ideal, when that’s what many other players on the roster are doing. 

Having all of their young players stand out is what will ultimately make the Sharks stand out from the rest of the pack. It hasn’t quite happened yet, and San Jose’s one of 22 teams separated by six points or fewer. 

And if it doesn’t, the middle of the pack is where the Sharks will remain.