The State of Nirvana in Buddhism, is when the disciple is finally able to master being completely devoid of all personality, emotion, thought, desire, hope, and physical awareness of themselves…or as the Buddhists now term it:
The Patrick Marleau Zone
The San Jose Sharks pulled out an emotional OT win on Saturday night versus the Chicago Blackhawks, as Ryane Clowe served as the entire offense, notching both goals in a 2-1 victory. Playing alongside Logan Couture, Clowe’s line might start to be known as “The Worst Kept Secret in the NHL” line, as they have been absolutely torching opponents, and taking the limelight away from the usual Shark media darlings.
Much has been made of Couture’s arrival on the scene this year, with all praise absolutely earned and worthy of the wunderkind. But as is known, the NHL press digs goals and everybody digs new rookie sensations, which is why Ryane Clowe has had to take a bit of a second place to Couture. That, despite being possibly the best player on the team over the last 7 games, logging 11 points, the flash bulbs and copy seems to still move in Couture’s direction. Of course, if Clowey keeps on throwing together nights like last Saturday’s, the last thing he’ll ever have to worry about is too little attention.
Ryane Clowe’s play is helping to overcompensate for the lack of production from some more familiar scoring threats and veterans, who have not been able to get it going. On one hand, it is great to have the team depth and the ability to weather the storms of your dormant veteran scoring attack, but on the other hand, Patrick Marleau needs to decide if he wants to play hockey or not. Since the Detroit Red Wings game here in San Jose on November 30th, Patrick Marleau has tallied one goal and kicked in a minus-9 for the Sharks. His play has seemed downright apathetic at times, but Marleau is a little tough to read on the emotional front as his “fired up”, “disinterested”, “happy”, “sad” and “there’s a grizzly bear behind you” faces all seem to look the same.
Sharks’ radio color guy, Jamie Baker, talked about the need for all San Jose players to play “three zone hockey” during the Sharks last broadcast: defensive zone, neutral zone and offensive zone. If you use Baker’s example, Patrick Marleau is barely playing in one zone right now, the offensive…and that is being pretty generous considering his recent numbers.
Baker further emphasized the absolute necessity of mastering these three zones by channeling anger and pride, and stated that each zone should be played by players with a chip on their shoulder. Point being, players need to get mean and win these zone battles, and if they get beat by the other guy on a shift or give up a goal, they should get angry and ticked and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Take pride in winning these zone battles and on the other side, take losing these battles ridiculously personally and get mad!
When was the last time you saw Patrick Marleau get mad?
Marleau’s skills are second to none, and I caught a “Shark Byte” on Comcast once, where Sharks players were polled as to whom they thought the fastest skater on the team was and Marleau’s name came up almost unchallenged. But, outward emotion and demonstrative anger? That is just not Patrick Marleau’s game, but unfortunately to the viewer, when you are as overly even keeled as Marleau is, poor play leading to zero emotional reaction reads as disinterest, despite that actually being the case or not.
It reminds me a little of the story of Joe Barry Carroll, the star-crossed center for the Golden State Warriors in the early 80’s. Carroll was given the nickname of “Joe Barely Cares” for the perceived indifference he showed out on the court. Some critics even labeled him a bust, when in actuality, Carroll’s numbers were not that bad and he even made an All-Star team. Carroll’s problem was that he just looked bored, looked like he didn’t care and that perception, warranted or not, ruined his reputation.
In a similar vein, Patrick Marleau’s constant brook trout expression out on the ice is not helping him these days. In times of plentiful offensive production, that expression is seen as simply “taking care of business” and “acting like you’ve been there before” and not really given any more notice. However, in times like we are currently in, where Marleau seems to be out on the ice for every single Shark defensive breakdown, the perceived lack of fire is hurting him and hurting the team.
This is not new ground for the Sharks. The Sharks stripped Marleau of his captaincy last year because of this dearth of emotion. Marleau chose to lead by example, but the men needed a more vocal leader so he was canned. The Sharks very politically stated at the time, that this demotion was more to “take the pressure off” of Marleau, but honestly, do you want your leader looking the exact same way after winning and losing?…hat trick and minus-4? Marleau had arguably his greatest offensive year last year, so maybe there was something to the pressure argument. You can play it cool when you score in bunches, but playing it cool when you’re getting beat left and right is a great deal harder to defend.
Just get mad Patrick! Get angry out there about something…anything. Slash somebody, give someone a face wash, break a stick on the cross bar. Don’t just bleed out there, take some blood. I don’t care if it’s not your game. Right now, you need to show your teammates, the 14,000+ employers at the Tank, your coaches and everybody in between that you’re quite literally, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. You need to show an outward realization for your lousy recent play and a total commitment to erasing that futility, and inject some deliberate and visual actions of success into your play. Your reemergence is absolutely crucial to the Sharks success, and could be the reason for the team contending deep into the next playoffs. For crying out loud, just look like you give a damn.
We don’t want the placid Buddha act out there, especially when the enlightened one is not scoring…
…and DON’T APOLOGIZE!
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