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."
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.