Sharks

Mailbag: Will the Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau?

Mailbag: Will the Sharks re-sign Patrick Marleau?

Who else but Patrick Marleau to discuss in today’s Sharks mailbag? We’ll save the trade deadline questions for another day, but for now…

It’s fair to say that the chances have probably improved from the start of the season that pending free agent Patrick Marleau will return for a 20th season in teal. The 37-year-old has been the team’s best forward for the last handful of games, capped off by his historic 500th career goal on Thursday in Vancouver.

What his return could depend on more than anything, though, is if he’s willing to accept just a one-year deal. Looking at it from the Sharks’ perspective, I’m not sure offering him a multi-year deal makes sense.

Not only do the Sharks have some promising young players at the wing position in Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc that are still growing their games, other forwards like Danny O’Regan, Nikolay Goldobin, Rourke Chartier and Marcus Sorensen could break through at some point. Further, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson believes that the wing position is the easiest to integrate new players into the fold, whether they are young players or free agents. I also believe part of the reason that Mikkel Boedker got a four-year contract over the summer was the assumption that Marleau would not return.

While fitting Marleau in on a one-year deal around $3-4 million probably wouldn’t be much of an issue for 2017-18, several Sharks players are going to be due some hefty raises after that. Marc-Edouard Vlasic could be in line for a Brent Burns-like payday, as he heads into the final year of his current contract. Martin Jones could also get a monster extension this summer, when he’s eligible to open talks on a new deal. Tomas Hertl’s current three-year contract will also be up after 2018-19.

Any multi-year contract extension for Marleau would have to be done with that in mind, as Vlasic, Jones and Hertl should all be viewed as vital pieces for the next several seasons.

I can envision the situation with Marleau playing out similarly to how it did with another organizational legend – Dan Boyle. 

After the 2013-14 season, in which it was evident he was slowing down, the then-37-year-old Boyle wanted a multi-year contract. The Sharks were only willing to offer an incentive-laden one-year deal, and Boyle ended up going to the Rangers on a two-year contract. He admitted later he was "devestated" to leave San Jose, but that's how the business works.

Whether Marleau would accept a one-year deal or not, it allows the Sharks to placate some potentially upset fans, too. If Marleau insists on a multi-year deal and goes somewhere else, the Sharks could reply by telling their Marleau-loving fans, “hey, we tried…”

For now, though, the Sharks should just continue letting a motivated Marleau play for his next deal, wherever it may be. There should be no rush for them to get something done before the season concludes.

Historically, Marleau is more effective when he’s in such situations, and both parties are benefitting from that right now.

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

Sharks' Tomas Hertl 'finally back' on ice after January knee injury

It's not clear when the Sharks will play next.

One star took a big step towards rejoining them when they do.

Tomas Hertl posted a video Wednesday on his Instagram of him skating in his native Czech Republic, writing that he was "[f]inally back" on the ice.

View this post on Instagram

Finally back 🏒 @filipchlapik @hertlik89

A post shared by Tomas Hertl (@hertlik48) on

Hertl, 26, tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee in January and missed the final 18 games of the Sharks' season before it was suspended -- and, ultimately, ended -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. The center injured his knee on Jan. 29 against the Vancouver Canucks, just four days after playing in his first All-Star Game. 

The 2012 first-round pick was one of the lone bright spots in the Sharks' otherwise dreary season, scoring 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 48 games. San Jose generated 56.76 percent of the expected goals and 54.38 percent of the high-danger chances with Hertl on the ice at full strength, according to Natural Stat Trick, and Hertl himself accounted for his highest rate of 5-on-5 expected goals (0.95 per hour) of any season other than his rookie year.

Hertl said in May that he expected to be ready to start the 2020-21 season, no matter when that is.

"I want to be there for my team, and that’s why I have been working every day for four months even with the season so far away," Hertl said at the time. "My next goal is getting back and being better than before. I know I can do it. I have to give it everything I can to get back.”

[RELATED: Thornton reportedly could play in Switzerland before NHL season]

Hertl's return to the ice marks an offseason milestone for the forward, who's signed through 2022.

He and his wife, Aneta, announced last month that they're expecting a baby in November.

'Red Penguins' tells wild story of NHL team's foray into Russian hockey

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'Red Penguins' tells wild story of NHL team's foray into Russian hockey

Vodka, violence and victory.

“Red Penguins,” a documentary released by Universal for streaming On Demand on Tuesday, chronicles the brief foray by the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins into ownership of a Russian professional hockey team. The film features plenty of vodka and violence, although victory proved to be elusive.

Penguins owners Tom Ruta and Steven Baldwin made the decision to invest in the struggling club HC CSKA Moscow, which previously had been controlled by the Soviet Union’s Red Army. Steven Warshaw, then the Penguins' vice president for sales and marketing, was the man tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations on the ground in Moscow, and guides you through all of the unbelievable twists and turns that came with bringing American ideals of organizational structure and capitalism into a society that was amid a transition from decades of communism.

An in-arena strip club, live bears serving beer and a near nine-figure partnership with Disney are just part of what came to define the Penguins’ wild reign behind the Iron Curtain.

Director Gabe Polsky utilizes Warshaw and his enigmatic personality to tell the majority of the story, but also includes interviews from Russia with the team’s former mascot and broadcaster in Moscow, as well as former Red Army manager Valery Gushin, who developed a unique relationship with Warshaw that was both friendly and contentious.

The crew had to traverse some dangerous ground in collecting the interviews, and even had one interview interrupted by KGB officials.

“This overweight man was just sort of standing behind us for like, way more longer than comfortable,” Polsky said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area last week. “Within a couple minutes, the police show up and you hear it, and start saying ‘get the hell out of here,’ and basically they thought there was a bomb nearby.”

Equal parts hilarious and chilling, “Red Penguins” showcases the wildest aspects of running a professional sports franchise in Russia while detailing the danger and sadness that can be a consequence of doing business parallel to an organized crime syndicate.

Polsky, who is the son of Soviet immigrants to the United States, believes American hockey fans and sports fans in general can get a unique look at the complicated relationship between the two world superpowers, and how that dynamic both brought the Penguins immense popularity in Russia and led to their downfall.

“Almost no films out there, that are English-speaking, that take the audience into Russia,” Polsky said. “Seeing the people, understand the psychology, mentality, up against the American mentality, and you see it even more clearly.

“There’s a lot to kind of unpack and understand in this film.”

Whether you’re a Sharks fan, a general sports fan or even just someone who enjoys a compelling story involving international relations, “Red Penguins” will have you glued to your screen.