Sharks

Patrick Marleau leaving Sharks biggest news of week in Bay Area sports

Patrick Marleau leaving Sharks biggest news of week in Bay Area sports

The biggest news of the week – and here we emphasize “news” in its classic sense, as an event outside our current expectations or a new development on an old subject – was not the Warriors’ crazed money-burning, or the Giants’ sudden application of proper baseball techniques to a recognizable end.
 
It was Patrick Marleau leaving San Jose for, of all places, Toronto. It violated every assumption we made of the man and his market while on a secondary level making perfect sense.

[RELATED: Iguodala shares 'a gem' when it comes to gaining free-agent leverage]
 
Andre Iguodala got a new deal, which was one million dollars per annum and one year longer than we thought the Warriors would be comfortable giving. Stephen Curry signed for the most money a fellow in his position could receive (though not nearly as much as he is worth, both to his organization and to the NBA as a whole). Kevin Durant agreed to defer his humongous payday for a bit, by a bit.
 
And the Giants caught a foundering Colorado team and a very Pittsburgh’y Pirate team at the right moment for their fading self-esteem, while making a lot of little roster moves that suggest a surreptitious rebuild that nobody believes the management would ever stand.
 
But it is Marleau, who did 18 years as a Shark, going to Toronto for three years and $18.75 million that was the biggest surprise – especially after his bosom mate, Joe Thornton, agreed to a one-year deal to stay.
 
And nobody saw that coming.
 
Marleau was a peculiarly great player in that he never seemed to fully satisfy. His skills were hailed but his consistency in exhibiting them was sometimes in doubt. He was, in that way, a bit like talented centers in the NBA, who are always judged by what we think they should always be able to do and what they actually end up doing.
 
His numbers are Hall of Fame quality, especially now that Dave Andreychuk has been elected to the HOF, but he lacks the signature moment or moments that define the word of mouth that helps make such a career. To this day, he befuddles people who learn that he scored 40 goals only once and achieved 90 points no times at all. He finished in the top three for a postseason award only once (the 2006 Lady Byng for being no trouble to anyone) and played in only three All-Star Games, and yet his numbers when compared to his fellow players puts him a group of second-level Hall of Famers with Ron Francis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Frank Mahovlich and Gilbert Perreault.
 
It also does not help him that he played for a franchise that is defined in part by its postseason underachievements. Nor, for that matter, that he was always the guy who avoided the limelight or attention on a team that needed all the sparks it could get in a crowded entertainment field. He was very good at being “there” while being virtually undetectable.
 
And his new destination is the hockey media capital of the universe, where nothing he does (or does not do) will go undissected, and the privacy he and his family so cherished in California will be a thing of the past. He will not be under a microscope as much as under a magnifying class as wielded by a bully who likes burning things, especially when you consider that he will be a 40-year-old when his contract enters its final year.
 
In other words, he went to the place where the radar doesn’t let anything fly beneath it. He is taking center stage after decades of having been used to working in the wings, at a time when most players appreciate less notice rather than more.
 
So in all these ways and probably dozens more only he knows, Marleau the Leaf is an amazing development, and at only one-third the Iguodala price and one-tenth that of Curry.
 
In other words, sometimes the biggest news comes at a bargain. Not always, but for Patrick Marleau, that seems to be the one thing that does make sense about this seemingly nonsensical bit of real news.

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

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USATSI

Sharks headed in right direction, road trip to reveal who they really are

The difference between a 2-3-0 start and a 1-4-0 start is bigger than two standings points.

The former is far from ideal, but if you squint hard enough, there's enough wiggle room to improve. There's still time with the latter, too, but the margin for error is much thinner moving forward.

The Sharks experienced that difference firsthand after Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It's not an ideal record, but they’ve managed to salvage a poor start. 

There are still some flaws, to be sure. The power play isn't just the Kevin Labanc show after the top unit scored all three power play goals Tuesday, but is still carrying a disproportionate offensive load. The penalty kill’s scoreless streak came to an end, but they were called into action six times.

Despite all that, Tuesday's win was San Jose’s best effort this season. Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all had multi-point games for the first time this year. Martin Jones had another strong game, and appears to have shaken off his slow start.

In short, San Jose’s game is headed in the right direction. It needs to be, with a five-game road trip beginning on Friday. 

Now comes the hard part.

It's on the road where we’ll get our best sense of who this team really is. Peter DeBoer won’t have the benefit of last change, and won't be able to dictate matchups. 

Under these circumstances, we’ll begin to really see if Joakim Ryan is ready for a top-four role, whether Kevin Labanc is a viable first-line winger, and how the rest of the young reinforcements stack up. They will have less time off, too, as all but one game occurs after one day (or less) of rest and travel. That missed practice time isn't ideal for any team, let alone one still trying to work out the kinks.

Fortunately, the competition is forgiving, at least on paper. Other than the Devils, none of the Sharks’ four other road trip opponents have winning records as of this writing. The topsy turvy nature of the standings, though, show how little “on paper” means this early in the season.

We’ll know a lot more about who these San Jose Sharks are by the time their road trip ends. Their record still won't tell the whole story, but by then, they'll have played about an eighth of the season. 

And by then, we’ll have a much better idea of how good this team really is.

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

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AP

Sharks' offense comes alive, leads charge in win over Canadiens

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE — Logan Couture credited a teammate for scoring his second goal. He took credit for the first one.

Couture scored a pair of goals and the San Jose Sharks extended their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens with a 5-2 victory on Tuesday night.

Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl also scored for the Sharks, who have won the past 11 home games against the Canadiens, a streak that dates to Nov. 23, 1999.

On a power play late in the third period, rookie Tim Heed took a shot off a face-off that bounced free in front of the net. Pavelski couldn't get his stick on it but managed to kick it across the net for Couture, who found a huge opening.

"That was pretty special," Couture said. "I don't know if he knew I was there but he kept his balance and kicked it over."

Couture opened the scoring 3:30 into the first period, grabbing a rebound off the back board, skating across the front of the net to get Price to commit and then firing into an open net.

Jonathan Drouin and Shea Weber scored for the Canadiens, who are winless since an opening night victory at the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's a very poor start from our team, from myself, from a lot of individuals," Canadiens' Max Pacioretty said. "It's a good time to look in the mirror and see what we're made of because a lot of people are probably doubting this team right now."

Martin Jones stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Sharks, who finish their season-opening homestand with a 2-3 record.

"The biggest thing is finding that energy for the whole game," Jones said. "We started OK and then we got better as the night went on."

Carey Price, who stopped 31 of 35 shots, fell to 2-7-1 in 10 games against the Sharks.

The Canadiens responded 36 seconds later when Drouin picked up a pass from Artturi Lehkonen close in and fired it over Jones' left shoulder and into the net.

Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead for good when he redirected Kevin Labanc's shot just under a minute into the second period. The shot hit Weber's left shin pad and bounced into the net.

"There were a lot of good things out there," Pavelski said. "We didn't have the homestand we wanted but we can leave on a positive note to take on the road."

Hertl padded the lead midway through the second on a power play. Standing on the right side of the net, he was trying to control a pass from Joe Thornton but the puck fluttered off his stick and got behind Price.

"I'll take it any way I can get it," Hertl said. "There are times I've had great shots that just bounced off the post."

Weber's power-play goal two minutes later kicked off Jones' skates for the score.

The Sharks needed five seconds to score on a power play late in the second period. Tim Heed shot on goal and it bounced off Pavelski's skate. Couture picked it up and found a huge opening.

NOTES: After allowing three power play goals over their first five penalty kills, the Sharks killed off 14 straight until Weber scored in the second period. ... Couture recorded his 24th career multi-goal game. ... Sharks D Tim Heed recorded his first NHL point with an assist on Couture's power-play goal. ... Brendan Gallagher needs one assist for 100 with the Canadiens.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in their second back-to-back of the season.

Sharks: open a five-game road trip on the east coast with a game at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.