Patrick Marleau recalls friendships ahead of reunion game vs. Leafs

Patrick Marleau recalls friendships ahead of reunion game vs. Leafs

Patrick Marleau’s first game back in San Jose after rejoining the Sharks was, as expected, a very emotional one.

But the reunions haven’t ended there for the 40-year-old winger. As the Sharks continue their five-game swing through the East Coast, they make a stop in Toronto, where Marleau spent the last two seasons playing with the Maple Leafs.

While his tenure there was relatively short, it still made quite the impact -- especially when it came to his relationship with young stars Auston Mattews and Mitch Marner.

“I think the biggest thing I'll take away is the friendships,” Marleau told reporters ahead of Friday's game. "The whole experience is great, the community. But definitely the friendships I'll have for the rest of my life."

More than what he put on the score sheet -- 84 points (43 goals, 41 assists) in 164 games played -- Marleau is remembered for his time in Toronto because of his friendship with Matthews and Marner, who are both more than a decade his junior. The friendly chemistry is something even Marleau himself couldn't quite explain.

"I think they're just great kids, great people," Marleau complimented. "They're always fun to be around."

Matthews, who sported a Marleau jersey in San Jose during last season's All-Star Game festivities, also spent time with Marleau during the offseason. No. 12 even revealed that the Leafs forward consulted him when he got into trouble for disorderly conduct over the summer.

"There's always two sides to every story," Marleau said when asked about what had happened to Mattews. "So I had [seen] him in the summer and talked about it and, it's hard how things get played out in the media sometimes so everything is a learning experience and you learn from it and move on."

As for Matthews, he's just looking forward to facing his good friend in Friday's game. 

"It's going to be fun going out there against him," Matthews told reporters on Friday. "I'm extremely happy that he's back home in San Jose and obviously playing well. I'm looking forward to playing against him."

Marleau enters Friday night's contest with six points in six games played so far this season. The game will also mark his 1,500th career game in a Sharks jersey.

"It's pretty crazy how everything seemed to work out that way," Marleau said. "It's pretty exciting and pretty fitting to play against a former club in a milestone game like this."

[RELATED: Dell states case for more starts in Sharks win over Habs]

And as for the emotions he might feel if the Leafs have a tribute video for him?

"Those always get you," Marleau said with a chuckle.

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up right now. It's understandably difficult, but focusing on what bright spots there are will help us get through this unprecedented time.

Taking the glass-half-full approach shouldn't be new to Sharks fans. They had a few months head start before the team's disappointing season was indefinitely paused.

Yes, it was clear early on that it was going to be a tough season in San Jose. The Sharks dropped their first four games of the season, and turned to former captain Patrick Marleau to get back on track. After a strong November, San Jose undid it all with a putrid December, and at that point, it became easy to focus on all of the things the franchise didn't have. The most notable absence was that of hope.

One by one, the Sharks' best players went down with severe season-ending injuries. One of them -- Erik Karlsson -- was like a double punch to the gut. Not only would San Jose not have the benefit of having the former Norris Trophy winner in the lineup, but the cost it took to acquire him -- including the Sharks' unprotected 2020 first-round draft pick -- looked disproportionally painful. Every team in the league would have made that trade for Karlsson -- and signed him to the same eight-year contract extension -- but nearly everything that occurred from that point on was a string of bad luck for San Jose.

There was an upside to losing all of those top players, though. Whatever lingering hopes of a playoff run existed soon went out the window. The Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson could turn their attention to the future, and that's exactly what they did.

In sending Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals, Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Barclay Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline, Wilson overhauled the Sharks' cupboard of draft picks in both quality and quantity. He acquired four picks -- including a 2020 first-rounder -- that will fall within the first three rounds, and San Jose now has seven selections in each of the next three drafts.

Those will come in very handy as the Sharks try to get back into contention -- and stay there. Sustained success is built through young, controllable assets, and the draft is the best way to acquire them.

That said, there are always some prospects that fall between the cracks. Brinson Pasichnuk was one such prospect who was never drafted, yet became one of the best players throughout all of NCAA Division I hockey. The Arizona State standout agreed to join the Sharks organization, Wilson announced Tuesday, adding to San Jose's collection of promising young defensemen, including Mario Ferraro and Ryan Merkley.

[RELATED: Sharks' Ferraro moved in with parents during NHL pause]

Shortly after Pasichnuck agreed to join the Sharks, Hobey Baker Award finalist John Leonard did the same. Leonard, San Jose's sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, tallied 105 points over 106 career games at UMass Amherst. He had the option of returning to school for his senior season, but had little left to prove at the collegiate level. While he isn't a new prospect to the Sharks' system, it's nonetheless a positive development for San Jose.

Two months ago, the Sharks' future appeared as bleak as it had in nearly two decades. Since then, however, they've taken several steps in the right direction, and there is considerably more reason for hope.

We can all use a little of that right now.

Sharks' Mario Ferraro moved in with parents for NHL coronavirus pause

Sharks' Mario Ferraro moved in with parents for NHL coronavirus pause

Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro normally would be spending recent nights in five-star hotels around the NHL. But he's back at home these days because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As in, living with his parents in Toronto.
“Different vibes now, I don’t run the household anymore,” Ferraro joked Monday in a 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports California. “I told them already, 'If I’m in my room filming a YouTube video, limit the noise, and don’t come knocking on the door.' ”
Ferraro is becoming more well known for the side hustle of producing his YouTube channel, "Youngest of Plugs."
One of his latest uploads turned out to be among his most popular: A specific workout for staying at home, like so many of his fans are right now while social distancing.
“I like making videos, and I like working out,” Ferraro said. “So kind of just put the two and two together. I guess because of what’s going on now in the world, a lot of people are at home and need that entertainment.”
As for his day job, it was quite the bizarre rookie season in San Jose. Ferraro's first pro season included personal success, team struggles, a coaching change and, now, the unthinkable: A suspended NHL season, due to a pandemic.
“I don’t even know if bizarre would cut it,” Ferraro said. “Things that are happening right now are much more important than hockey, or sports in general. But when you do circle back since the beginning of the season and what’s happened, it was tough ups and downs.”

[RELATED: Promising D-man prospect Pasichnuk agrees to join Sharks]
Ferraro ended up playing in 61 of the Sharks' 70 games, and he was one of the few consistent bright spots of their season. There’s high optimism he’ll end up as a top-four defenseman in the near future.
But as for now, he’s like all of us. At home, and a bit scared of what the coronavirus pandemic is about to become around the globe.
“It’s hard to deny that,” Ferarro said. “It’s a scary time. When you think about how it affects not just you, or your family, it affects the whole world. Everybody is going through this.”