Sharks

Sharks, other clubs await Marleau decision

Sharks, other clubs await Marleau decision

On the morning of the second day of NHL free agency, Patrick Marleau is still without a hockey home.

He could remain in San Jose, but other clubs are said to be in hot pursuit. The Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs are all still interested in Marleau, but the 37-year-old veteran forward is surely reluctant to move on from the place he’s called home for the past 19 seasons.

Marleau was reported to have a two-year offer on the table from the Sharks on Friday, but according to one source, offers from the other clubs – particularly Toronto, from what I understand – are better than what the Sharks are offering. It’s highly likely that Marleau is weighing whether to take a better deal somewhere else and uproot his family (or commute back and forth to the Bay Area), or stay with San Jose on a lesser deal.

There is genuine uncertainty regarding Marleau from everyone I’ve talked to. No one seems to know what he’ll decide. He deserves some time to make up his mind, of course, but I would be surprised if it drags on much longer.

On a related note, I don’t expect the Sharks will announce the one-year contract for Joe Thornton until Marleau’s decision becomes public. I’ve seen some people worry that the Sharks haven't announced that deal yet – and, it’s true that he hadn't put pen to paper as of Saturday – but Thornton has committed to return to the Sharks on a one-year deal. Recall in 2014, when Thornton’s three-year extension was already done for some time but he waited for Marleau’s to be signed before the team officially announced it.

In other words, relax, Thornton supporters. Joe is back.

I do find it interesting that Thornton settled on a one-year deal, when I have to think there were multi-year offers on the table from other teams. One source on Friday said that the Sharks were offering Thornton a two-year deal so I would assume that the money was higher on a one-year deal than it would have been in a two-year offer (TSN’s Bob McKenzie expects Thornton’s salary for 2017-18 to be close to $6.5 million).

The one-year term also tells me that Thornton probably isn’t too concerned about that left knee operation he underwent just after the season ended. Doug Wilson has said multiple times that he expects Thornton to be ready by the start of training camp, and Thornton’s agent, John Thornton, has told me the same. 

I tend to think, too, that Thornton – despite turning 38 today – can put up better numbers than he did last season when he had seven goals and 43 assists. The short summer, World Cup and silly condensed NHL schedule all took their toll on him.

Tomas Hertl channels Mark Messier, forces Game 7 vs. Vegas with double-OT goal

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USATSI

Tomas Hertl channels Mark Messier, forces Game 7 vs. Vegas with double-OT goal

Tomas Hertl walked back his guarantee between Games 5 and 6, but the Sharks forward still made good with a double-overtime goal against the Vegas Golden Knights to on Sunday. 

With San Jose on the penalty kill, the Sharks forward gathered a breakout pass from defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and went full Mark Messier to force a Game 7 in the best-of-seven, first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. The Sharks picked up a 2-1 win, despite getting outshot 59-29. 

After the Sharks forced Game 6 with with a 5-2 win on Thursday, Hertl told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker he believed the Sharks would force a Game 7 "because we're a better team than them." On Friday, Hertl clarified to reporters that he wasn't guaranteeing anything, other than the fact that "everybody will put everything in the game and Vegas and try to come back." 

“We know it will be really hard, but we’re ready for this challenge," Hertl told reporters (via The Mercury News). We want to show that we can beat them there, too.”

Still, it's hard to ignore the parallels with the aforementioned Messier. Twenty-five years ago, Messier guaranteed his New York Rangers would force a Game 7 against the rival New Jersey Devils, and he scored the game-winning goal as part of a natural hat trick in the third period. 

Hertl scored two fewer goals Sunday night in Sin City, but the Sharks' season continues nonetheless with a do-or-die Game 7 on Tuesday at SAP Center. Whether it was a guarantee or not, Hertl delivered on it. 

Watch Logan Couture give Sharks critical 1-0 lead in Game 6 vs. Vegas

Watch Logan Couture give Sharks critical 1-0 lead in Game 6 vs. Vegas

The Sharks didn't score early, but they did score first in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup playoff first-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Logan Couture opened the scoring with nine seconds remaining in the first period Sunday. The Sharks center gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone for a partial breakaway, then beat Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for his fourth goal of the series. 

Couture's goal was historic for the Sharks. They had not scored the first goal at T-Mobile Arena in 10 previous regular-season and playoff meetings in Sin City. 

[RELATED: Burns named Norris Trophy finalist for third time in career]

The winner of every game this series scored the first goal, and the Sharks hope history repeats itself Sunday. They entered Game 6 trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, and need a win to keep their season alive for (at least) one more game. 

They have the critical lead. Now, it's about maintaining it.