Sharks

Patrick Marleau's agent says his client only wanted to play for Sharks

Patrick Marleau's agent says his client only wanted to play for Sharks

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."

[RELATED: How Dell's win can help Sharks, fellow goalie Jones rebound]

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. 

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

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USATSI

Sharks say Petr Mrazek 'flopped', got what he deserved from Joe Thornton

There was no shortage of electricity in Thursday night's rumble between the Sharks and Hurricanes, which San Jose got a point out of after falling 3-2 in the shootout

But the game really went on the verge of exploding when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek went after Joe Thornton -- which unleashed some next-level fury that Sharks fans on social media like to refer to as "Angry Joe."

"Jumbo plays hard, and the goalie went after him," Logan Couture said after Thursday's loss. "So, I don't know if the goalie expected to get pushed like he did, but if you're going to go at someone you're probably going to get pushed."

Thornton went to give the puck a nudge as he skated by Carolina's net, realizing a bit late that Mrazek already had frozen it. But it was enough to irk the Canes' netminder, who then attempted to violently slash Thornton and subsequently stood up out of the crease as if to square off with the future Hall of Famer. 

Thornton responded with a half-push, half-punch to Mrazek's face, sending the goalie toppling over backward to the ice. Mrazek remained there as a scrum ensued behind Carolina's net. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

"I think it definitely gets your group emotionally engaged in the game when you have a goalie swinging a stick at a guy like, but, as you saw, Joe can take care of himself," Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer chuckled. 

Even after Thornton was ushered over to the penalty box to serve two minor penalties, Mrazek was slow to get up off of the ice. The long delay in play left some wondering if Mrazek had a concussion, but he stayed in the game. 

This, of course, raised a couple of mid-game questions. Should Mrazek have come out of the game and gone straight into the league's concussion protocol? Was it actually the fall and not Thornton's force that caused him to labor on the ice for so long? Or, was Mrazek waiting things out so Thornton would receive more discipline?

Sharks goalie Aaron Dell offered up his two cents after the game. "He either got hit really hard and should have gone into concussion protocol or he flopped a bit, but I guess that's the ref's call," Dell said with a shrug.

Mrazek didn't offer up much to the media after the game, calling it a "cheap shot" by Thornton before saying he has suffered hits "worse than those, so it's not bad." So, perhaps we'll never know the real story.

While there is a lot of attention on his tiff with Mrazek, Thornton also deserves credit for playing an incredible game. He led the third line along with Marcus Sorensen and Kevin Labanc to one of its most impactful games so far this season, and set up Sorensen for San Jose's first goal on the evening. With the Sharks' road trip continuing with a back-to-back this weekend against the Floridian teams, getting that kind of bottom-six contribution is vital.

"He's playing well," Couture said of Thornton. "We need [the third line]. Can't win with only the top six scoring. Some nights you need the bottom six to score, and I think that line's looked really good."

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 shootout loss vs. Hurricanes

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AP

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in 3-2 shootout loss vs. Hurricanes

BOX SCORE

There’s nothing like some fireworks to kick off a tough road trip.

The Sharks and Hurricanes might only see each other twice a season, but boy did things get heated between the two teams in their second and final meeting of the 2019-20 campaign Thursday night at PNC Arena. It was a fast-paced and entertaining matchup all the way through overtime. In the end, San Jose got only one point after Carolina prevailed 3-2 in the shootout, but there were a lot of good things that came out of this one.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday's exciting game:

Thornton ruffles some feathers

Joe Thornton has come up in conversation a bit lately, but mostly because he hasn't produced much over the first two months of the season. But Jumbo Joe has gotten back to what he does best -- setting up goals -- which he has done in three of the last five games. Against the Hurricanes, he looked like his vintage self, and even responded in kind when Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek slashed him late in the second period. 

[RELATED: Watch Jumbo send 'Canes goalie to ice with forearm shiver]

Thornton was the leader of the Sharks' third line Thursday, which was easily the team's best. His work setting up Marcus Sorensen for San Jose's first-period goal was especially impressive, as he displayed great patience in setting his young linemate up with Hurricanes skaters pressuring. Not only was the assist a beauty, but it also brought Thornton within four helpers of tying Adam Oates for seventh on the NHL's all-time list. 

Dell bounces back

Dell was coming off a couple of rough outings, but in his first start since Nov. 27, he put up a strong performance in Raleigh.

After giving up the first goal of the game within the opening minute, Dell really settled in and had a good handle on the Canes’ offense. He was very strong at the start of the second period when Carolina came out with a ton of energy and generated plenty of grade-A chances. But perhaps his best came on a third-period penalty kill to keep the game tied up 2-2. 

Or maybe his saves in overtime were better. Really, he put some great tape together.

Karlsson keeps it going

The Sharks are paying Erik Karlsson to be one of their best players, and he was exactly that against the Hurricanes.

The defenseman has been heating up over the last couple of weeks, and on Thursday he looked downright elite. His work on both ends of the ice was superb, and he set up some of the Sharks' best plays of the game. His incredible work setting up Logan Couture's game-tying goal in the second period was the cherry on top of his highlight-reel performance.