SAN JOSE – Patrick Marleau responded to the latest round of trade speculation on Wednesday, the day after reports surfaced that he would be willing to play for one of three teams and that he was the one likely pushing management to explore trade possibilities.
Does he want to stay in San Jose?
“I’ve been here forever and it’s been a great place to play,” said Marleau, the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring and games played. “I’m not going to get into specifics or anything like that. There’s always been rumors in my career. I don’t really want to feed into it anymore or comment on it. I don’t want it to become a distraction or anything.”
Is the report that he would be willing to accept a trade to the Ducks, Kings or Rangers accurate?
“I’m not going to speculate or get into it too much. I’d just rather not feed into it,” said Marleau, who didn’t practice on Wednesday due to lingering flu symptoms.
After not having an agent in his previous round of contract negotiations, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Marleau retained Pat Brisson in training camp. Marleau’s previous agent, Don Baizley, passed away in in June, 2013. If Marleau does indeed want to move on from San Jose having an agent would be a huge help.
He was asked why he decided to go that route.
“I had been looking for agents or advisors,” Marleau said. “I think they are always good to have as players. I had talked to Pat at a time before, and we kept in contact after that. I just felt it was good timing for me to have somebody, an advisor role for myself.”
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There has been no shortage of headlines regarding Marleau for the past several days, since Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that Marleau’s name was “out there” in trade discussions.
On Tuesday, an NHL source told CSNCalifornia.com that Marleau would be willing to play for either the Ducks, Kings or Rangers. On Wednesday morning, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that Marleau, who has a full no-trade clause, was the one “driving the bus that could be headed out of San Jose.”
Why might Marleau want to leave? One theory is that he wasn’t happy when coach Pete DeBoer passed him over as a full-time alternate captain. Although Marleau is now wearing an ‘A’ on some nights, it’s only temporary until Logan Couture returns.
Marleau admitted on Wednesday that while he might have been disappointed initially after having worn a letter for so long, that’s now behind him.
“Obviously, as a human, when you had that in the past and it’s taken away you feel that a little bit,” Marleau said. “But, I think it’s in the past. It’s not going to change what I do or what I bring to the rink every day.”
DeBoer never sensed any feelings of disenchantment from Marleau.
“I never saw that. To his credit, he was very professional about it. The reality is we knew that we had a lot of potential leadership candidates and there are only so many to go around. Where he stands in that group I think is evidenced by the fact that the first time somebody went down, he got a letter.
“He’s an important part, and I think we made that clear right from day one. As far as those feelings, if he told you those were them, I never saw that. That’s a credit to him and his professionalism.”
The Sharks have hit a rough patch with just three wins in the last 11 games, including back-to-back losses at home.
Has his situation been a distraction over the past few days?
“I hope not. It hasn’t been for me, anyway,” Marleau said. “I’ve been through this before.”
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Any trade of Marleau would be complicated, as the 36-year-old forward is in the second of a three-year, $20 million contract.
It’s hard to envision Doug Wilson making a deal with the Kings given the fierce rivalry and feelings of ill will between the clubs.
The biggest hurdle in regards to New York is salary cap space now and in 2016-17. As Freidman pointed out on Wednesday, the Rangers will have to sign several of their up and coming players to contracts over the summer, including Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider and JT Miller. Still, the Rangers have been scouting the Sharks of late, including having representatives at the last two home games.
The Ducks could be the more logical destination, as they are having trouble scoring goals and Wilson has a tight relationship with Anaheim general manager Bob Murray after working closing with him to launch the AHL’s Pacific Division. The Ducks are having trouble offensively, and have a strong stable of young defensemen. That's something the Sharks are sorely missing in their organization at the NHL level and further down.
There’s always the possibility, too, that Marleau could add to his list of acceptable destinations, or, conversely, the Sharks could simply not move him. Every indication is that this is a fluid situation.
The timing is also a bit surprising. If this had happened one year ago it would be much less so, as the Sharks were coming off of their playoff debacle and a subsequently strange offseason in which management’s comments seemed to especially irk Marleau and Joe Thornton. This season, all indications from the Sharks’ dressing room have been that this is a year for redemption under a new coach, and the additions of Martin Jones, Joel Ward and Paul Martin would mean the club would again become one of the NHL’s elites.
That hasn’t happened, as the 7-8-0 Sharks have struggled for consistency after four straight wins out of the gate. They have lost eight of their last 11, all in regulation, falling under the .500 mark for the first time after a 4-2 loss on Tuesday at home to the Islanders. They are set to begin a difficult, season-long road trip in Detroit on Friday.
Joe Pavelski was asked if he thinks Marleau, who has 9 points in 15 games, wants to remain.
“I believe he does,” said the Sharks captain. “I believe everybody in here wants to be a part of it. That taste in our mouth last year wasn’t good. We came back, guys were prepared, we got off to a really good start, things went smooth. We’re in a little bump in the road, but we’ve played games where guys haven’t bailed. That’s encouraging to see.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic rejected the notion that the Sharks, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 10 years, need a personnel change in their dressing room involving their longest-tenured player.
“I don’t think a trade would shake things up, especially if it’s a guy like [Marleau],” he said. “That’s rumors. We need a guy like that on our team to help us win.”
Pavelski said: “We expect Patty to play hard, and he’s a big part of our team. … Until something really happens, these things have been out there before. You show up to play and do your job.”