Patrick Marleau

Marleau passes ex-Sharks teammate on all-time scoring list

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AP

Marleau passes ex-Sharks teammate on all-time scoring list

Former Shark Patrick Marleau moved into sole possession of 39th on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list with his 514th career goal on Wednesday night, passing an ex-teammate and longtime critic in the process. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward's second period goal against the Minnesota Wild moved him ahead of fellow former Shark Jeremy Roenick. The two played together in San Jose from 2007-09, and Marleau's drawn significant criticism from Roenick since his retirement. 

The NBCSN analyst has called Marleau, among other things, "gutless," not "one of the locker room favorites," and one of the "five players [he] most hated playing with." He's often criticized Marleau for a perceived lack of effort, and told reporters this offseason that "lulls" in his game "[happen] to Patrick Marleau too much."

There was also tension when the two were teammates, at least according to Roenick. In his memoir, he recounted leaving his family "around Thanksgiving" and showing up to Marleau's house, unannounced. 

"I wanted to inspire him, to let him know that his teammates were behind him. I went there to tell him that I believed he could be one of the league’s very best players if he just altered his game slightly. He needed to play with more of an edge," Roenick wrote in “J.R.: My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey.”

"“I tried to tell him that that night, but I could tell 10 minutes into our conversation that I was wasting my time. He considered my arrival at his house an intrusion. He listened to me, but he never did anything to change the way he was.”

His inclusion in Roenick's book prompted the normally soft-spoken Marleau to respond.

“To say that I don’t care about my play or winning or being gutless is absurd,” Marleau wrote in a text message to David Pollak. “I wouldn’t have left home at 14 years old to play a game I didn’t care about. I want to win more than anyone. Just because I don’t jump up and down acting like a buffoon on the ice doesn’t mean I’m not into it.”

Roenick correctly predicted this offseason that Marleau would leave the Sharks. Marleau signed a three-year, $16.75 million contract with Toronto this summer, and returned to SAP Center for the first time on October 30.

In addition to the regular season, Marleau has scored more postseason goals than Roenick, as well as more game-winning goals in the regular season and playoffs than his former teammate. 
 

Patrick Marleau's return to San Jose was deceptively normal

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AP

Patrick Marleau's return to San Jose was deceptively normal

If you ignored the particulars of the evening, Patrick Marleau’s 750th career game at SAP Center was not much different than the 749 that preceded it.

He was the last player out of his own locker room, and shared the ice with Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton to start the game. Throughout it all, Marleau remained typically stoic.

Even with that in mind, you can’t ignore the particulars, and Monday night’s were particularly strange.

The post-Marleau era is now 11 games old, and it’s still fundamentally weird to see him in another uniform. The Sharks deftly handled his pregame tribute, but it’s hard to fathom that tribute came during Marleau’s playing career, not after it ended.

What was perhaps oddest of all, though, was that the Sharks were just fine without him. San Jose dominated Toronto from start to finish, save for a moment of kick-to-stick brilliance from Auston Matthews.

The Sharks only scored one goal at even strength, but they didn’t need any more, thanks to a dominant defensive effort. It’s one thing to hold the high-scoring Maple Leafs to just two goals, but it’s another to hold their offense to just nine shots on goal in the game’s final 40 minutes.

It was easily San Jose’s best game of the young season, and a strong start to a difficult portion of the schedule. That kind of an effort, with Marleau on the visitor’s side of the ice, is hard to wrap one’s head around.

Maybe it’s not if you’re Jeremy Roenick, but San Jose won 430 games at SAP Center with Marleau involved, and he was a key figure in many of those. The Sharks have played games without him, but playing against him is another matter entirely.

His familiar, yet foreign presence certainly seemed to confuse the home crowd. Fans cheered, clapped, and chanted ‘Pat-ty’ during the pregame festivities. The loudest gasp came not when Frederik Andersen made one of his 36 saves, but when Marleau missed a half chance in the second period.

Marleau’s return brought a sense of finality to his July departure, as if to remind Sharks fans that yes, he’s really gone. The cheers will always be there for him when the Maple Leafs make their annual trip to the Bay Area, even as things won’t ever truly be the same.

For a few moments on Monday night, though, it was if Marleau had never left, and things were deceptively normal.

The 12 defining moments of Patrick Marleau’s Sharks career

The 12 defining moments of Patrick Marleau’s Sharks career

The prodigal son returns on Monday night, as Patrick Marleau takes the ice at SAP Center as an opponent for the first time. His teal tenure was filled with highs and lows, but ended with Marleau as the longest-tenured and highest-scoring player in franchise history.

With a Toronto Maple Leafs’ crest on his chest instead of the San Jose Sharks’, he’ll surely be reminded of the moments that defined his Sharks career.

SHARKS DRAFT MARLEAU

For the second straight year, the Sharks picked second overall at the 1997 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. They selected Marleau, a soft-spoken 17-year-old from the small farm town of Aneroid, Saskatchewan.

Had it not be the presence of a future teammate, Marleau may not have even been on the board for San Jose. The Mercury News wrote in 1997 that “[m]any hockey scouts and coaches think [Marleau] would have been the No. 1 pick in recent drafts; only bad timing put him in the same draft with Joe Thornton.”

THE FIRST OF MANY

Just over a month after his 18th birthday, Marleau scored his first NHL goal in a 5-3 loss to the then-Phoenix Coyotes. One of the youngest players in his draft class, Marleau started his professional career slowly, scoring just 6 points in the first 20 games of his rookie season.

He improved as the season wore on, and his 32 points that year ranked fourth among rookies. Marleau finished sixth in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

THE BREAKOUT

Marleau hit the 25-goal plateau for the first time in his fourth season, and led the Darryl Sutter-led Sharks with 52 points in 2000-01. In the remaining 15 years of his San Jose career, he hit that mark 10 times, and never scored again scored less than 19 goals in an 82-game season.

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

In Ron Wilson’s first full season behind the Sharks bench in 2003-04, San Jose rotated its captaincy before naming Marleau the sixth permanent captain in franchise history. He scored a career-high 57 points that season, leading the Sharks to their second division title.

FROM PLAYOFF G.O.A.T...

He was also a key figure in San Jose’s run to its first-ever Western Conference finals appearance. Marleau’s 12 points in 17 games were second on the team, and his two hat-tricks remain a Sharks playoff record for the most in a single postseason.

... TO PLAYOFF SCAPEGOAT

Marleau was blamed for San Jose’s inability to get out of the second round in subsequent seasons. In a 2007 second round series with the rival Detroit Red Wings, Marleau lost the puck along the neutral zone boards, and Robert Lang tied the game with the Sharks 33 seconds away from a 3-1 series lead.

San Jose lost the game, and eventually the series, and Marleau’s reputation as an underachiever truly began.

STRIPPED OF THE CAPTAINCY

That reputation came to a head in 2009, when the President’s Trophy-winning Sharks failed to advance out of the first round. Marleau scored just three points in a six-game loss to the rival Anaheim Ducks, and took the heat for San Jose’s biggest playoff disappointment to date: That offseason, the Sharks stripped Marleau of the ‘C.’

BOUNCING BACK 

Losing the captaincy had little effect on Marleau’s play in 2009-10. He scored a career-high 44 goals, formed one of hockey’s best lines with Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton, and won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. It was the beginning of the best stretch of his career, and over the next four 82-game seasons, Marleau never scored less than 30 goals.

COMING UP CLUTCH

In 2010, Marleau also exorcised some playoff demons. He scored two game-winning goals in San Jose’s second round series against Detroit, including the series clincher that sent the Sharks back to the Western finals. Despite the constant criticism, Marleau’s 16 game-winning goals are tied for ninth-most in NHL playoff history, and tied for the most among active players with Jaromir Jagr.

MARLEAU PUNCHES BACK

Perhaps no media member has criticized Marleau more harshly than ex-teammate Jeremy Roenick. The NBCSN analyst called Marleau ‘gutless’ in 2011, and listed him among his least-favorite former teammates in his 2012 book. The latter prompted Marleau to respond.

“To say that I don’t care about my play or winning or being gutless is absurd,” Marleau wrote in a text message to reporter David Pollak, then with the Mercury News. “I wouldn’t have left home at 14 years old to play a game I didn’t care about. I want to win more than anyone.”

A FITTING CUP FINAL DEBUT

Age appeared to finally catch up to Marleau in 2015-16. He failed to crack the 50-point mark for the first time since 2007-08, and was moved up and down the lineup by new head coach Peter DeBoer.

He was a secondary scorer in the Sharks’ first-ever run to the Stanley Cup Final, but 19 years after he was drafted, Marleau finally scored his first Stanley Cup goal in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Fittingly, he did so in the same city in which he was drafted.

500

On February 2, 2017, in his Marleau became the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 NHL goals. His 500th tally was one of 27 goals the 37-year-old Marleau scored in his 19th and final season with the Sharks, good enough for third on the team. He ultimately ended his San Jose career with 508 goals, 301 clear of Joe Pavelski, the next-closest Shark.

THE END OF AN ERA

Patrick Marleau played his final game with, and scored his final goal for the Sharks on April 22, 2017, when the Edmonton Oilers eliminated San Jose in Game 6 of the first round.

Marleau entered free agency for the first time of his career this summer, and wore ‘out a few carpets’ deciding to sign a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That decision ended his teal tenure after 1,493 regular season games, the seventh-longest of any NHL player with a single franchise.