Perhaps it's no surprise that once Evander Kane's three-game suspension was announced Tuesday, Sharks fans began to dig out hope it would open the door for forward Patrick Marleau to return to San Jose.
Sorry to rain on the parade, but it's still highly unlikely that reunion is in the cards.
The Sharks have been saying since the offseason that they want to give their young players -- particularly those skaters who stepped their games up last season -- the chance to take on bigger roles during the 2019-20 campaign. With Kane only being sidelined for a few games, there's no reason to believe that line of thinking has changed.
Sharks' general manager Doug Wilson said exactly that one week before training camp opened when he was asked about the possibility of Marleau rejoining the team. Just as Marleau's departure gave players like Tomas Hertl the chance to step up, the current changes in the roster give San Jose's freshest faces an opportunity to take on more responsibility:
"We're at a different place than we were two or three years ago and one of those (areas) is positional fit. We're very strong on the left side and we're very strong down the middle. And I also made promises to our younger players. Not just younger players, but players like Lukas Radil and Marcus Sorensen that signed with us. The commitment is to give those players the opportunity that they deserve.
It, in no way, takes away from how we feel about Patrick Marleau. We will honor him and he will always be a Sharks in our minds. The 19 years he gave us were phenomenal, and all the players who played with both him and (former captain Joe Pavelski) reap the benefits of having played with players like that.
But it goes forward. We're excited about where we're at and where we're going."
Marleau is coming off his lowest-scoring full season since entering the league, registering 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also tallied a career-low 74 hits -- not exactly the physical entity the Sharks want in their lineup against tough teams like Vegas.
The winger, who turned 40 last month, had one year left on his three-year deal with the Leafs when he was acquired by the Carolina Hurricanes on June 22. The Hurricanes bought out his contract on June 27.