Patrick Marleau

How Patrick Marleau's kids helped form Mitch Marner-Auston Matthews bromance

How Patrick Marleau's kids helped form Mitch Marner-Auston Matthews bromance

Patrick Marleau, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner aren’t just close friends -- they’re family.

The tight-knit group detailed what started their friendship during a recent interview with Sportsnet.

Marleau had been a member of the Sharks for 20 years and was joined by his sons who crashed the interview. One of them was even sporting a Sharks shirt which is even more adorable after Marleau had been traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the deadline. The kids ended up being more of the subject as to why Marner formed such a close bond with the Marleau fam.

Marner detailed that he and Matthews would play Mini Sticks for hours with Marleau’s kids. This would go on long enough where they would have to change into another pair of clothes due to the amount of sweat that would produce.

“I think that’s just kind of where the relationship started,” Marner said. “When we started going over there -- just kind of feeling we’re a part of the family."

Matthews mirrored those sentiments.

“Yeah, I’d say it evolved pretty quickly after that,” he explained. “He had us over, and obviously the boys are a blast to hang out with -- I think they like hanging out with us -- always had a good time, Mini Sticks got intense … “

The mini-stick battle had been detailed by Marleau’s wife, Christina, with an adorable photo of the three hockey players and the mini-Marleau’s.

From the 2017-19 seasons, Marleau was with the Toronto Maple Leafs where this bromance began and stayed.

When Matthews was participating in the NHL Accuracy Shooting event during the 2019 All-Star festivities, he unveiled a Marleau jersey underneath the Leafs uniform he was sporting -- in front of the San Jose crowd.

[RELATED: Leonard hopes to follow in Ferraro's footsteps]

Amazing. 

But Marleau has said that despite the trio being family, he respects them when they face one another after the puck drops. 

That doesn’t appear to change the way they feel about one another. 

Joe Pavelski's game-winner vs. Jets symbolic of clutch Sharks' tenure

Joe Pavelski's game-winner vs. Jets symbolic of clutch Sharks' tenure

Programming note: Joe Pavelski's game-winning goal in the Sharks' thrilling, last-second 2019 victory over the Winnipeg Jets will re-air on Saturday, April 4 at 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay California.

What a game. What a finish.

Joe Pavelski served as captain in multiple capacities throughout his time with the Sharks. Captain of San Jose, Captain America, and frequently, Captain Clutch. On March 12, 2019 against the Winnipeg Jets, both bookend descriptions were apt.

The Sharks entered the game on quite a run. They were undefeated in March, riding a five-game winning streak, including an impressive 3-0 road shutout over the Minnesota Wild the night before. Marc-Edouard Vlasic got San Jose on the board first, but Winnipeg responded with two goals over the ensuing 65 seconds, an early sign that the Sharks would have their hands full.

San Jose pulled even before the first intermission, and both sides managed to score once in the second period. Precisely two minutes into the third, Marcus Sorensen gave the Sharks their first lead since Vlasic's opening goal, but Matheiu Perreault knotted things up for the Jets with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, setting up for what appeared to be an overtime finish.

Pavelski never let it get that far.

With less than 15 seconds remaining in regulation, Winnipeg broke into San Jose's defensive zone, but Vlasic got a stick on a Jets' cross-ice pass, turning a scary defensive situation into an odd-man rush opportunity. Timo Meier raced up the open ice and collected the puck right as he crossed Winnipeg's blue line. Coming in at high speed, Meier attempted to set up Pavelski for the game-winning goal by lifting a saucer pass over the lone remaining Jets' defenseman's stick.

Before the puck reconnected with the ice, Pavelski swatted it out of mid-air, directly into the back of the net with 4.3 seconds left on the clock.

Game over. Winning streak extended in Winnipeg.

It was the usual suspect. Throughout Sharks franchise history, only Patrick Marleau has accounted for more game-winning goals than Pavelski's 60. Though it wasn't apparent at the time, his game-winner against at the Jets that night turned out to be the final one he scored for San Jose. Pavelski departed for the Dallas Stars in free agency last offseason, and while his goal total (14) might be on the decline, he hasn't lost his penchant for the clutch (three game-winners).

[RELATED: How COVID-19 impacts Sharks' salary cap, draft planning]

Pavelski worked his way from being the No. 205 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft to being named captain of the United States National Team. Though not the biggest or fastest skater, there was never a harder worker. He endeared himself to Sharks fans through his leadership and effort, and those 355 regular-season and 48 playoff goals didn't hurt either.

Sharks' captain. Captain America. Captain Clutch. Any and all will do.

If you need a reminder as to why, tune into NBC Sports California tonight at 9 p.m.

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Sharks suddenly in better position with draft picks, college signings

Given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up right now. It's understandably difficult, but focusing on what bright spots there are will help us get through this unprecedented time.

Taking the glass-half-full approach shouldn't be new to Sharks fans. They had a few months head start before the team's disappointing season was indefinitely paused.

Yes, it was clear early on that it was going to be a tough season in San Jose. The Sharks dropped their first four games of the season, and turned to former captain Patrick Marleau to get back on track. After a strong November, San Jose undid it all with a putrid December, and at that point, it became easy to focus on all of the things the franchise didn't have. The most notable absence was that of hope.

One by one, the Sharks' best players went down with severe season-ending injuries. One of them -- Erik Karlsson -- was like a double punch to the gut. Not only would San Jose not have the benefit of having the former Norris Trophy winner in the lineup, but the cost it took to acquire him -- including the Sharks' unprotected 2020 first-round draft pick -- looked disproportionally painful. Every team in the league would have made that trade for Karlsson -- and signed him to the same eight-year contract extension -- but nearly everything that occurred from that point on was a string of bad luck for San Jose.

There was an upside to losing all of those top players, though. Whatever lingering hopes of a playoff run existed soon went out the window. The Sharks and general manager Doug Wilson could turn their attention to the future, and that's exactly what they did.

In sending Brenden Dillon to the Washington Capitals, Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Barclay Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the trade deadline, Wilson overhauled the Sharks' cupboard of draft picks in both quality and quantity. He acquired four picks -- including a 2020 first-rounder -- that will fall within the first three rounds, and San Jose now has seven selections in each of the next three drafts.

Those will come in very handy as the Sharks try to get back into contention -- and stay there. Sustained success is built through young, controllable assets, and the draft is the best way to acquire them.

That said, there are always some prospects that fall between the cracks. Brinson Pasichnuk was one such prospect who was never drafted, yet became one of the best players throughout all of NCAA Division I hockey. The Arizona State standout agreed to join the Sharks organization, Wilson announced Tuesday, adding to San Jose's collection of promising young defensemen, including Mario Ferraro and Ryan Merkley.

[RELATED: Sharks' Ferraro moved in with parents during NHL pause]

Shortly after Pasichnuck agreed to join the Sharks, Hobey Baker Award finalist John Leonard did the same. Leonard, San Jose's sixth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, tallied 105 points over 106 career games at UMass Amherst. He had the option of returning to school for his senior season, but had little left to prove at the collegiate level. While he isn't a new prospect to the Sharks' system, it's nonetheless a positive development for San Jose.

Two months ago, the Sharks' future appeared as bleak as it had in nearly two decades. Since then, however, they've taken several steps in the right direction, and there is considerably more reason for hope.

We can all use a little of that right now.