Patrick Marleau had already done the emotional goodbye before he left the Sharks at the trade deadline.
Marleau signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in 2017, signing a three-year contract with the "Original Six" club to leave San Jose, the only NHL city he'd ever known. When he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins ahead of this year's trade deadline, Marleau found adjusting to a new locker room much easier the second time around.
"I think what it really helped was with that anxiety or nervousness when you first come to a new team," Marleau told The Athletic's Rob Rossi on Wednesday. "You try to get over that really quickly. You know it’s eventually gonna work out. So, I think doing it before helped me a little bit fit into this room."
The 40-year-old was unsigned at the start of the regular season after an offseason trade to -- and subsequent buyout by -- the Carolina Hurricanes. Marleau officially signed with the Sharks on Oct. 8, scoring a pair of goals in his first game back with San Jose.
He added eight more -- and 10 assists -- in 57 additional games with the Sharks, serving as a solid depth forward for a struggling team largely devoid of them. The Sharks, facing the steepest of uphill climbs into an unlikely playoff berth, traded Marleau to the Penguins so he could pursue his first Stanley Cup ring. Marleau has an assist in his first four games with Penguins, and Pittsburgh picked up its first win with him Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.
Though Marleau had previously left San Jose, he'd never joined a team midseason before his trade last month. The 22-year NHL veteran said joining a group led by three-time Stanley Cup winners Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin made the transition even smoother.
"What helps is these guys are really good," Marleau said. "But you know it’s important to be in a good position going into the playoffs. That’s where the focus has to be. Coming in, I’m just trying to do my thing and help as much as I can. But it’s definitely great to be with a group that always has that goal. They know what they’re looking for and playing for here in Pittsburgh. It was kind of tough being on the outside looking in (at the playoff chase) for so many nights. It wasn’t something I was used to. That chase is obviously important to me."
Marleau's hope this season was to win a Cup with the Sharks, but now he gets a chance with the Penguins. He told reporters in San Jose last week that he thought "maybe the door is open for me to come back" to the Sharks for another season. That transition shouldn't be difficult, either, as Marleau already has done the emotional return, too.