Ex-Sharks coach Peter DeBoer tells great Joe Thornton leadership story

Ex-Sharks coach Peter DeBoer tells great Joe Thornton leadership story

Joe Thornton is one of the most-beloved Sharks of all time, spending the past 15 years making the crowds roar at SAP Center.

Former head coach Peter DeBoer, now the bench boss for the Vegas Golden Knights, recently told a great story during a panel for the NHL Coaches' Association's Global Coaches' Clinic that perfectly exemplifies the leader Thornton has been over his decade-plus in San Jose (h/t The Athletic).

"Game 7 against Vegas last year, we’re down 3-0 and we get a five-minute power play," DeBoer said. "We go out and score four goals on the power play and win in (overtime). I remember the first unit – and Joe Thornton wasn’t on our first unit – the Hall of Famer, maybe the best setup man of all time other than Wayne Gretzky as far as distributing the puck and making other guys better, making a living on the power play. However, our first unit kept scoring, and we got to the four-minute mark, we tied it up 3-3 and I decided the first unit was tired, they scored three, let’s give the second unit some ice time. I remember Joe looked at me and said, ‘No, leave them out there. They’re hot. Leave them.’

"I look back at that now, you’ve got a Hall of Fame player that made his entire career on playing in those moments, of being the difference, hopping over the boards and getting the winning goal on the power play, and he deferred. He had enough presence and leadership and security in himself. And sure enough, the first unit scored again even though they were dead-ass tired. That’s something I’ll never forget."

Thornton's selflessness is just part of why the 40-year-old is a four-time NHL All-Star and a franchise icon.

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He finished the 2019-20 season with 31 points through 70 games, but hasn't given any indication that he plans to hang up his skates.

As the Sharks look to rebound from a disappointing 2019-20 season, they'll need all the veteran leadership Thornton can impart before he sails off into the sunset.

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

It has been widely presumed that if Patrick Marleau returns for a 23rd NHL season, he will do so with the Sharks, back where it all began.

He still is without a Stanley Cup on his career résumé after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL's expanded playoff format. The Penguins acquired him prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick after he returned for his second go-around with San Jose early in the season.

Based on what his wife, Christina, tweeted Friday, it appears Marleau already has made up his mind about playing next season.

That really shouldn't come as a surprise. Though he isn't the top-end player he once was, Marleau showed this past season that he still has some left in the tank. And, on top of that, he only needs to play in 45 more games to pass NHL legend Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history.

Frankly, it would only be fitting if he set the record in a Sharks sweater. And now it would appear the ball is in San Jose's court as to whether or not Marleau will return to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Aside from the appetizing narrative, there's reason why Marleau might get a third go-around in teal. All indications are that the Sharks intend to return to playoff contention next season, but due to their salary structure, don't expect any large salaries to be brought in -- San Jose already has plenty of those. Consequently, the Sharks are going to need to fill the lineup with some minimum-salaried players.

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At this point, you can bet that money isn't a top consideration for Marleau. If a true Cup contender doesn't present him with an offer, it would be difficult to envision a more appealing destination for him than San Jose. Marleau could be signed for the veteran's minimum, and given he scored 10 goals in 58 games with the Sharks this year, that might be a pretty good value.

It's certainly possible the Sharks find a superior player to take Marleau's hypothetical spot, or would rather give it to a younger player that is part of the future.

If that's not the case, though, signing Mr. Shark makes an awful lot of sense.

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Ex-Shark Patrick Marleau, Penguins eliminated in NHL qualifying round

Sharks legend Patrick Marleau might have had his last decent chance to win a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL restart. Hopefully he gets another opportunity, because it ain't happening this year.

The fifth-seeded Penguins were stunned and upset by the 12-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round after the Habs advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 series victory on Friday. Pittsburgh lost Game 1 and was never able to recover, thanks in large part to Montreal goalie Carey Price.

The Penguins scored just eight goals in the series, none of which were deposited by Marleau. In fact, the long-time Shark didn't record a single point across the four games. The Penguins acquired him at the trade deadline in exchange for what is now confirmed to be a 2021 third-round draft pick, as San Jose wanted to give him an opportunity to check that last box on his career résumé.

Marleau now will become an unrestricted free agent. It has been widely presumed that if he indeed returns for a 23rd NHL season, it might come in a third go-around with the Sharks. San Jose finished dead last in the Western Conference this season, but the Sharks' record was largely impacted by injuries and they certainly could return to the playoffs next year.

Really, it would only be fitting if Marleau ended his career in teal.

As for the Sharks, the qualifying round has gone nearly as well as they could have hoped for. Of the four Pacific Division teams that were involved, only the Edmonton Oilers failed to advance.

Due to the wacky 2020 NHL draft lottery, each team eliminated in the qualifying round has a 12.5 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick. Whichever team lands it is widely expected to use it on consensus top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.

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So, there's an 87.5 percent chance -- barring trades -- that Lafreniere won't immediately end up in the Sharks' division.

Given the season they had, they'll take any win they can get.