Sharks

Patrick Marleau believes Sharks 'a good fit,' willing to be patient

Patrick Marleau believes Sharks 'a good fit,' willing to be patient

Patrick Marleau wants to talk to the San Jose Sharks, but he'll be polite and let them finish the conversations they're already having.

The former Shark was bought out of his contract by the Carolina Hurricanes this week, and there's only one team he wants to join. He's made that clear for the last few weeks.

“Yeah, it would be nice to come back here [to San Jose] and play where I started,” Marleau told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. “It would be a good fit for me for sure.’’

Marleau spent the first 19 seasons of his NHL career in San Jose. After two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 39-year-old is ready to come back to the Bay Area, as he wants to be close to his wife and kids.

But at this stage in his career, Marleau knows he's not the Sharks' top priority. He's well aware they have much more important things to figure out. Captain Joe Pavelski might be on his way out the door. Timo Meier, Joonas Donskoi and Kevin Labanc, among others, need new contracts. Marleau will have to wait until the Sharks settle all of that before they can even think about adding him back to their roster.

“It might take a bit longer, I’m not sure,” Marleau told LeBrun. “I know they have some things that they’re juggling around. We’ll see how it goes.’’

If the dust settles and the Sharks don't have the salary-cap space or a roster spot for Marleau, he admits that he's open to finding another on the West Coast.

"You never know how things are going to play out," Marleau said. "But obviously to be close to here would be beneficial for my family."

[RELATED: Sharks' prospects make big impression]

One thing is for sure: After 21 seasons in the NHL, Marleau isn't considering hanging up his skates. Not even close.

“I’m definitely not ready to retire. I think I’ve got some really good hockey left in me,” Marleau said. “I couldn’t give you an exact number of years, but it’s going to be more than one, I know that.’’

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

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AP

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

The ice got a little hot Tuesday night in San Jose. Towards the end of the Sharks' 5-2 blowout loss against the Capitals, tempers began to flare. 

Sharks winger Evander Kane was ejected for elbowing Washington defenseman Radko Gudas in the head with slightly over five minutes left in the third period. Gudas' teammates Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin each took exception, with Wilson hitting Kane. 

Kane and Wilson were seen chirping all the way to their respective benches, with Kane exiting the game.

It didn't stop there, too. Sharks center Joe Thornton chimed in before Wilson hit him with a "kiss the ring" comeback. 

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

Kane avoided suspension, but received the maximum fine of $5,000 for his hit on Gudas. 

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Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

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AP

Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

Just four days into December, the Sharks are facing a new level of adversity. They suffered a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night and are dealing with some injuries at forward that are keeping the position in flux.

To top it all off, San Jose is about to begin a four-game road trip, three games of which are against Eastern Conference teams. And the last time the Sharks went on a roadie out east, things didn't exactly go well.

In order for the Sharks to keep their good fortunes going, they must pass this test.

"Good teams, tough buildings, a big test," head coach Peter DeBoer said after Tuesday's loss when asked about the upcoming trip. "Our last time on an extended trip we didn't handle it well. So, hopefully, we're in a different place this time."

When you look at the big picture, the Sharks are in a better place than they were at the end of October, when they went 1-3-1 on their east-coast swing. San Jose staged a big rebound in November, showing it could win games in different ways and stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone. After going 4-8-1 in October, the Sharks went 11-4-0 in November and reinserted themselves back into the pack with the other competitive Pacific Division teams.

Nevertheless, the Sharks' upcoming trip -- which kicks off Thursday in Carolina against the Hurricanes and includes a back-to-back against the Lightning and Panthers -- isn't going to be a cakewalk. After the rough outing San Jose's defense had Tuesday against the Capitals, the trip looks even more daunting.

"It's not getting any easier," Brenden Dillon admitted Tuesday. "We're going into some tough buildings. A couple of back-to-backs here with Tampa and Florida. I think we're seeing if we don't play to our identity, if we don't play the right way, what happens."

The Sharks' defense isn't the only area of concern following the loss to Washington. San Jose was starting to see some production from its bottom six at the end of November, but injuries to Tomas Hertl and Antti Suomela are forcing the Sharks to shuffle up their lines yet again. Even with fourth-liners Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor finding their stride and contributing more, San Jose's mission to have a four-line team on the ice every night remains an ongoing project.

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

This isn't to say that the Sharks can't rebound from their loss to the Capitals and have a successful road trip. Their resilience was on display just last week when they bounced back from a tough loss to the Jets to win back-to-back games against the Kings and Coyotes. Plus, Carolina is the only team on the trip that currently has more points than San Jose, and the Hurricanes have lost three of their last four games, including a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. 

Still, though, the Sharks can't afford to play as they did against the Caps on their upcoming road trip. San Jose is about to encounter a major test, and class is in session starting Thursday.