Sharks

Sharks' Patrick Marleau reunited with 'bromance' duo facing Leafs

Sharks' Patrick Marleau reunited with 'bromance' duo facing Leafs

When Patrick Marleau and the Sharks visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday, he'll be celebrating his 1,500th game with San Jose. He'll also be reunited with his dear friends.

But if you ask him, he would probably refer to them as family.

Marleau had spent the previous two seasons with the Leafs where the friendships blossomed between him, center Auston Matthews and winger Mitch Marner. 

After two years in Toronto, Marleau was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, who bought out his contract, before he came back to San Jose. He doesn't have social media (lucky him), so he took to his wife Christina's Twitter to send out a heartfelt message thanking Leafs fans, the organization and specifically Matthews and Marner after the trade.

If that doesn't make you go "aww," this will do the trick.

Marner made an appearance in a Christmas photo with the Marleau family.

Christina had a small note dedicated to Matthews, who couldn't make the adorable pose. But the Leafs star more than made up for it during his "goodbye" post on Instagram after the Marleau trade:

And there's this: 

There's also the time Matthews unveiled a Marleau jersey in front of the San Jose crowd last January, when he was participating in the NHL Accuracy Shooting event during the 2019 All-Star festivities.

Marner and Marleau also showed off their chemistry in an insurance commercial dedicated to creating nicknames:

[RELATED: Joe Thornton, Marleau dedicated to keeping things fun]

Matthews said in an interview with NHL.com that even though he's excited to face Marleau, the moment the puck drops, they'll be opponents -- something Marleau respects

We know what the game will bring, but we will also know what is going on in the back of their minds. Sometimes, those moments are bigger than the sport.

How coronavirus could impact Sharks' salary cap, 2020 NHL Draft plans

dougwilsonap.jpg
AP

How coronavirus could impact Sharks' salary cap, 2020 NHL Draft plans

While the Sharks' top priority is the health and safety of their players, employees and surrounding community, there's no denying that the indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is going to severely impact San Jose's bottom line.

Though Sharks president Jonathan Becher couldn't give a specific value, he admitted Tuesday that the financial losses would "be a big number" and will "significantly exceed what [the franchise] traditionally experiences and be the largest it has been before."

San Jose is not alone in that reality. With no games being played, all 31 NHL teams are going to experience something similar.

Even so, Becher anticipates that the Sharks will spend up to the salary cap this offseason. Of course, nobody knows if or when the current season will resume, when the next one will begin or what the salary cap will be set at. F

or general manager Doug Wilson, whose directive is to get San Jose back to a level of contention in short order, the ambiguity of the situation isn't a desirable added challenge and he must have contingencies prepared.

"This is a difficult situation for everybody, as a community, as a society -- and that's what the priority is," Wilson said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. "On the hockey side, we look at it and we say, OK, when it does start up -- and it will start up again, whether it be for this season or next season -- here are the parameters we have to operate under.

"We may need to have younger players coming, or players on entry-level contracts. We may have to make some tough decisions on some key players. That's just going to be the nature of our business. We've had to go through this before, and as I said, it's the same for everybody. So, you plan and you go down parallel paths of, whatever may come, you're prepared for. It doesn't make it easy, but that's our job."

Wilson hasn't been through a previous pandemic with the NHL, but he was the Sharks' GM during the 2004-05 lockout, which is about as close as the league has recently been to the current situation. He is hopeful those tough decisions are kept to a minimum, but he isn't wasting valuable time and energy worrying about what might or might not happen.

"I think every team has got that same concern," Wilson responded when asked about potentially buying out one or more players. "Am I fearful? No. It'll be mandated to us what the rules are moving forward, what the cap is and all that. So, until then, we just focus on the things that we can focus on, which is preparing for the draft, preparing for some decisions with players that could be available, such as Brinson [Pasichnuk] and John [Leonard].

"We've got a couple more things in the hopper that we're looking at right now. Potentially, who could be UFAs. You look under every rock to find ways to get better."

Just this week, Wilson got two collegiate stars in Pasichnuk and Leonard to agree to join the organization. Leonard was San Jose's sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft who just finished as the NCAA's leading goal scorer and a Hobey Baker award finalist for UMass, while Pasichnuk was a three-year standout at Arizona State. Suddenly, that 2018 draft, in which the Sharks drafted top prospect Ryan Merkeley and selected another who ultimately was traded for high-scoring Swede Jonathan Dahlen, has the look of a franchise-altering one.

Given the current state of the Sharks, Wilson knows the upcoming 2020 draft class must do the same. He reloaded San Jose's pick arsenal at the trade deadline, and the Sharks will now go into the 2020 NHL draft with seven selections, including three in the first 60 picks.

Wilson and his staff are doing their best to capitalize on such a crucial draft, though social distancing has forced them to get creative. Like so many of us, they've been staying in touch through teleconferencing, and despite the unprecedented situation, Wilson feels they're "extremely well prepared."

[RELATED: Wilson seems likely to bring Boughner back as Sharks coach]

Nonetheless, he's feeling the pressure to hit it out of the park.

"It's not the perfect-case scenario," Wilson explained. "It isn't. But it is the same for everybody. Our guys are on top of it. They have meetings every day. They're exploring, gathering as much game tape and as much knowledge. I know the league and the combine will provide us with every piece of information they can, but it's just going to be different.

And it's a very important year for us with three picks in the top 60 in a draft that we think has got a lot of things we're looking for -- especially in the top 60 picks. We've got to get it right. It means more work and more focus without as much information as we usually have. So be it."

Yes, the coronavirus pandemic will greatly impact the Sharks' financial bottom line. But the bottom line for Wilson is that his directive remains unchanged.

Doug Wilson admits Bob Boughner has 'upper hand' to stay Sharks' coach

Doug Wilson admits Bob Boughner has 'upper hand' to stay Sharks' coach

Throughout his lengthy tenure as Sharks general manager, Doug Wilson had never made a mid-season coaching change prior to firing Peter DeBoer on Dec. 11 and promoting Bob Boughner to interim head coach. While no decision has been made on whether or not Boughner will be retained moving forward, it sure sounds like Wilson is heavily leaning in that direction.

Wilson provided an update Thursday in a conference call with reporters on how the Sharks currently area proceeding given the indefinite pause of the NHL season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and spoke very highly of the job Boughner did in an interim capacity.

"We know we've got some work to be ready for next season, whenever that may be," Wilson said, "but while our results for the year aren't where we needed them to be or want them to be, I was pleased to see some of the overall play improved over the last half of the year. I thought more often than not we were playing the game the right way ... I thought we played as a team with identity and structure more so in the second part of the year."

The coaching change didn't produce immediate improvement, but San Jose eventually found a more consistent game with Boughner at the helm. The Sharks went 14-20-3 after the coaching switch, and they likely would have been even more competitive if not for severe injuries to several key players.

"I think Bougie and his staff did a lot of good things," Wilson continued. "They were certainly hamstrung with many of our top players out at times, it was almost like a patchwork lineup. But the things we were looking for, I thought were addressed. Bougie and I have talked a lot about just clarifying how we want to play, and ultimately, getting your team to commit to playing the right way for longer periods of time, regardless of your talent level. 

"So, he and I will go through this process. We'll keep those discussions in private, but I think there's no doubt the things that I talked about that improved as the year went on ... Bougie and his staff deserve a lot of credit."

That would seem to be an odd amount of praise for someone Wilson doesn't plan to bring back -- if that indeed is that case. Wilson went as far as to admit Boughner has a significant advantage over other potential candidates.

"Does Bob know our group and have the upper hand in this process? Absolutely," he said. "But I think you have to be thorough in this process."

Indeed, it sounds like Boughner already has a leg up on the potential competition. Still, Wilson knows he wouldn't be doing his job if he was limiting the scope in any way.

"You're always looking for ways to improve your hockey team," Wilson explained. "Whether it be player-wise, staff-wise ... our list of things that we need to address is pretty extensive. You use this time wisely, and you have to explore those things.

"My responsibility is to put the best group together to help us get to the next level, but there's no doubt that those guys are all valuable people to this organization. But are we excluding adding other people? Absolutely not. ... Missing the playoffs is not something we take lightly, and we will explore every area -- players, coaching staff, additional people -- to make this a better hockey team."

[RELATED: Sharks get great injury news on Couture, Hertl and Karlsson]

It's going to be an extremely important -- albeit unprecedented -- offseason for San Jose.

There is a lot of work to be done to get the Sharks back to a level of contention, and deciding on who will be behind the bench certainly ranks near the top of the list.