How Auston Matthews made Patrick Marleau star of NHL All-Star Skills

How Auston Matthews made Patrick Marleau star of NHL All-Star Skills

SAN JOSE -- On the night before the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, Auston Matthews had an idea. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs superstar, voted as captain of the Atlantic Division team by fans, was set to participate in the accuracy shooting portion of the event. Once it was his turn, he would take off his blue No. 34 Maple Leafs sweater to reveal another. 

A white No. 12 Patrick Marleau, in the building where the former Shark made his name. 

“I thought it was a pretty good idea,” Matthews said Friday night. “Last night, I was at dinner with my family and just kind of thought about it. Lucky enough, they were able to make up a jersey quick this morning and have it ready for me when I went out there.”

Matthews put his surprise sweater on during the intermission between the third and fourth events of the night at SAP Center. It was a good call, he said, because he was getting hot wearing two jerseys at the same time until the final event. 

When it finally was Matthews’ turn to shoot, the SAP Center crowd rose to its feet once the 21-year-old’s tribute became clear.

“It was amazing, I wasn’t expecting that,” Matthews said. “I think that’s just a testament to how much of a legend he really is here. It’s pretty amazing, and everything he’s done for the city of San Jose in his career here.” 

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Marleau remains the Sharks' franchise leader in just about every category, and No. 12 jerseys still can be found among the home crowd on any given night. His former teammates still rave about him, too.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski said he didn’t immediately realize what Matthews was doing, until former San Jose teammate and current NBC Sports broadcaster Jeremy Roenick clued him in. Once Pavelski knew, he was cheering along with everyone else.

“Incredible,” Pavelski told reporters. “I looked at [Sharks teammate Brent Burns] and was like, ‘We gotta get a picture with him.’ We probably should have turned him around, we just wanted [Marleau’s] name on the back.

“Patty means a lot to everyone who’s come through this organization, and he’s left his mark …  I think it was pretty cool of [Matthews] to do that.”

Marleau means a lot to Matthews as well. Matthews, along with young Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner, have developed strong bonds with the 39-year-old during his Toronto tenure. In parts of two seasons, Marleau has become a popular figure in the Leafs dressing room, as his teammates see what made him one in San Jose. 

On Friday, the crowd's support quickly turned to nerves, Matthews said. He briefly skated away before hitting the fifth and final target. Ultimately, he completed the event in nearly 36 seconds, finishing eighth among his All-Star competitors.

Still, Mathews said Marleau was appreciative of the sweater swap, even if he initially was kept in the dark.

“No, I didn’t [tell Marleau ahead of time],” Matthews said. “I try not to bother him. I know he’s on vacation. But he texted me when I get off the ice, and just said, ‘Thanks, that was awesome.’ 

“I can’t explain how great of a guy he is, and how close we are in our relationship. He’s just an unbelievable person.”

Based on their reaction Friday, Sharks fans couldn’t agree more.

Red Wings hilariously troll Logan Couture on Pavel Datsyuk's birthday


Red Wings hilariously troll Logan Couture on Pavel Datsyuk's birthday

Pavel Datsyuk's birthday might not be a day that Sharks center Logan Couture circles on his calendar every year, but he was reminded Saturday.

In honor of "The Magic Man" turning 41, the Detroit Red Wings' Twitter account posted a GIF of Couture falling victim to Datsyukian dangle. Couture, understandably, was none too pleased. 

To make matters worse -- or at least more ironic -- for Couture, the GIF in question came on his 24th birthday. The Sharks hosted Datsyuk's Red Wings on March 28, 2013, back in Detroit's last season in the Western Conference and just two years after San Jose eliminated the Winged Wheel in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight season.

The Red Wings were in the Western Conference for the first four years of Couture's career, and he played more regular-season and playoff games against Detroit (24) during that span than any team other than the Los Angeles Kings (30). Couture credited those matchups for helping him develop in a piece for The Players' Tribune in 2015, and called Datsyuk's deke "an example that my teammates will probably never let me live down." 

"Thankfully, I’m far from the only one to be victimized by Pavel," Couture wrote at the time. "He has the best hands in the NHL. One little trick he likes to do is stick-handle between a player’s tripod — between their feet and stick. He’ll even use the net as a prop to make you look dumb."

[RELATED: Why DeBoer credits Thornton for Sharks' historic Game 7 power play]

Datsyuk retired from the NHL three years ago to return to his native Russia, and signed with hometown Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the KHL this summer. There were rumors of him considering an NHL return, but Couture won't have to worry about Datsyuk's stickhandling much moving forward. 

Well, at least until the next time someone digs up the clip. 

Why Peter DeBoer credits Joe Thornton in Sharks' wild Vegas comeback


Why Peter DeBoer credits Joe Thornton in Sharks' wild Vegas comeback

In the aftermath of the Sharks' improbable -- if controversial -- Stanley Cup playoff comeback against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the first round, San Jose coach Peter DeBoer credited veteran center Joe Thornton for speaking up in the immediate aftermath of then-captain Joe Pavelski's head injury. 

Earlier this week, San Jose's bench boss revealed that the 40-year-old did so at the expense of his own playing time. DeBoer told The Athletic's Craig Custance at a presentation during the Hockey Coaches Conference in Toronto this week that, when the Sharks scored their third goal on the contentious major penalty back on April 23, Thornton said DeBoer shouldn't put the veteran's power-play unit on the ice. 

Kevin Labanc scored the Sharks' fourth goal -- and his fourth point -- of the power play 28 seconds after Couture tied the game 3-3. San Jose scored two goals within 1:04 of the major penalty being called, with forwards Couture, Labanc, Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl joined on the ice by defenseman Erik Karlsson. Thornton, Evander Kane, Gustav Nyquist and Marcus Sorensen took the ice with defenseman Brent Burns after the first two goals, but the Golden Knights held the second unit to two shots on goal and no goals for nearly two minutes of power-play time. 

Couture tied Game 7 with about 1:20 remaining on the power play, scoring the top power-play unit's third goal on their fifth shot attempt. On their sixth, Labanc gave the Sharks the lead. 

[RELATED: Sharks prospect Chekhovich has skill to earn NHL spot]

They still needed overtime to advance to the second round, but riding their hot hands resulted in an historic power play for the Sharks. According to DeBoer, he can thank Thornton for that.