When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes in a salary dump this summer, the NHL veteran had one thing on his mind.
Marleau was singularly focused on reuniting with the Sharks, his agent Pat Brisson wrote to The Mercury News' Curtis Pashelka.
"Carolina had interest in Patrick for him to be part of the team this season, however Patrick wanted to be a Shark at all [costs]," Brisson e-mailed Pashelka on Friday. "He will retire as a Shark. At that point I started communicating with (Sharks general manager) Doug Wilson on a regular basis in order to try making it work."
Marleau signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Maple Leafs in 2017, and the longest tenured player in Sharks history suited up in a different uniform for the first time in two decades. Needing to re-sign a host of restricted free agents, including star winger Mitch Marner, the Leafs traded Marleau to the Hurricanes just before June's NHL draft.
Although the 'Canes wanted to keep him, Marleau wanted to return to his first NHL home. That appeared unlikely when Wilson told The Athletic in September that the Sharks were focused on giving their young forwards opportunities to earn roster spots in training camp.
But the Sharks struggled out of the gate, starting 0-3-0 to begin the season while dealing with Evander Kane's suspension, some injuries and those young players adjusting to the NHL. San Jose wanted to bring in a veteran presence, and that opened the door for a reunion.
"The Sharks have made promises and commitments to their young players as part of their development," Brisson wrote in the e-mail. "If they were to look at bringing a veteran player obviously Patrick was going to be Doug's choice all along."
Marleau officially signed with the Sharks on Wednesday, and he scored two goals in his first game back two days later. He kept skating on his own and with former teammates, but didn't participate in a training camp as a free agent. Marleau told reporters Saturday he experienced "a lot of ups and downs" when asked if he had a chance to sign with another team, but wouldn't elaborate.
Now, Marleau is set to play his first home game for the Sharks in two-and-a-half years Sunday when San Jose hosts the Calgary Flames. Marleau is sure to receive a raucous ovation, further reminding him that this reunion was worth the wait.