San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau Signs with Toronto Maple Leafs

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau
SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 22: Patrick Marleau /

An era is over for the San Jose Sharks, as Patrick Marleau signed a three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marleau leaves behind nearly two decades of hockey in the Bay Area.

Patrick Marleau plays the game of hockey with class. He has proudly donned the San Jose Sharks’ jersey since being selected second overall in the 1997 NHL Draft. Throughout his tenure in teal, Marleau gave Sharks’ fans plenty of highlights over 19 seasons. His 500th career NHL goal last season against Vancouver is just one accomplishment among manythat Marleau produced in his illustrious career in San Jose.

Steve Yzerman is the last player to spend an entire career with one organization, doing so the Detroit Red Wings. Marleau could have done the same in San Jose, hoping to lift the Stanley Cup. He came close, though San Jose fell short against Pittsburgh in 2016. San Jose now moves forward in hopes of winning a championship without a fan favorite in the locker room.

San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks /

San Jose Sharks

Sharks’ playoff hockey typically ended in disappointment. Numerous terrific regular seasons ended with early round exits as the team could not raise their game in the playoffs. Marleau often received heavy criticism after not contributing as either captain or a veteran player. The criticism was unwarranted, though Marleau tuned out the noise. He wanted to win for his teammates and the Bay Area.

Marleau is now moving on to a new challenge in Toronto, where his presence will benefit the youth on the Maple Leafs. Toronto saw a playoff drought end last season, led by Auston Matthews. The leadership Marleau will provide to the young, talented Maple Leafs can certainly help a young team evolve into playoff contenders.

Familiarity with Toronto’s coach, Mike Babcock, will help Marleau adjust to his new surroundings. Marleau played under Coach Babcock with Team Canada in the Olympics. Coach Babcock has praised Marleau in the past and knew what he could bring to a team.

Leadership may be the first area of concern now in San Jose though Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have proven effective leadership. Sharks’ management felt relieved after Las Vegas selected David Schlemko over Joel Ward. Despite a down season, Ward brings plenty of leadership on and off the ice and is a favorite amongst players and fans.

Speculation began to mount reagrding the futures of Joe Thornton and Marleau. Both have been the faces of the San Jose Sharks’ franchise though a Stanley Cup has not come to the Bay Area. San Jose is at a crossroads as prospects from the Barracuda have made a case to join the Sharks this season. Thornton and Marleau both sought multi-year deals which made both returning difficult.

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Doug Wilson’s first order came as expected with the extensions of goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Vlasic. With both contracts set to kick in next season, the salary cap would have been an issue. Reliable starting goaltending and shut-down defense are two coveted areas NHL teams want in order to build a contender. Jones and Vlasic have done the job at their important positions and will continue to be reliable.

After Marleau made his decision, Thornton officially signed his deal to return to San Jose. Thornton waited to hear on Marleau before making his stay official. The one-year deal gives Wilson salary cap flexibility for this season. Thornton wanted to win a Cup with Marleau in the Bay Area but knew the odds were unlikely.

In 19 seasons with San Jose, Marleau played 1,493 games and finished with 1,082 points. He has 98-game winning goals and at least one game-winning goal against 29 teams. Last season, Marleau scored four goals in one period against the Colorado Avalanche since Mario Lemieux in 1997.

An emotional night will come Oct. 30 when Marleau makes his return to the Shark Tank. Sharks’ fans knew one day Marleau would depart though many did not believe he would leave for another team. His departure is sending shockwaves throughout the Sharks’ fanbase as a fan favorite is no longer in teal.

Next: San Jose Sharks: Optimism for Future with Barracuda

San Jose now moves forward in efforts to produce a championship with a bright future of prospects ready to make the jump. Marleau has delivered great memories for the Sharks’ franchise and will one day see his number retired lifted to the rafters of the Shark Tank.

Thank you, Mr. San Jose Shark, and best of luck in Toronto.