Since I started following the San Jose Sharks well over a decade ago, Patrick Marleau has been the only constant presence in teal. I’ve followed the Sharks through his rookie years and captaincy, all the way to the present.
Marleau was selected second overall in the NHL draft back in 1997. He holds several scoring titles for the Sharks and is one of the few players that may very well retire having only played for one team. An analysis of the franchise through the years would not be complete without heavy emphasis on the impact he has had.
I have an obvious bias toward No. 12. Everything from his speed to his composure and offensive ability has captivated my attention throughout his playing career. Even so, I’m the first to admit when he just isn’t performing as well as he should be.
Marleau has gone through periods of exceptional play, only to be followed by inconsistency and scoring droughts, especially during the most crucial months of the season. He has developed a bit of a reputation that has left the Sharks unable to rely on him throughout the season.
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At times in his career, the veteran has even been called out for not having the heart and soul of a champion. I would argue this is a common misconception in sports in which professionalism and composure can be mistaken for apathy. Still, the lack of Stanley Cups throughout his career doesn’t exactly help his case.
He finished last season with 57 points (19 G, 38 A), an obvious decline compared to the 2013-14 season when Marleau tallied 70 points (33 G, 37 A). Several instances throughout the season Marleau was unable to find the back of the net and performed below his capabilities.
Of course, several other factors contribute to a player’s performance and yet, under optimal conditions, Marleau has consistently shown an inability to rise to the occasion when the Sharks have simply needed more from him.
Much like Joe Thornton, whom I previously wrote an analysis on, Marleau has left fans disappointed in recent years, but there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful for the future.
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Under head coach Peter DeBoer and several new faces, the Sharks are expected to be back in the playoff hunt. Both the team and its fans would be wise to leave the 2014-15 season in the past and focus on the potential the 2015-16 season holds.
If Patrick Marleau’s streakiness has taught us anything, it’s that despite dismal numbers at times, the veteran has not necessarily slowed down in terms of athleticism. He remains one of the best all around skaters in the league.
With several significant changes to the Sharks, we can expect players to work hard this season to step up their game and redeem an organization that has an undesirable reputation for falling short in the post-season.
Changes to the coaching staff and new faces in San Jose could be exactly the wake up call every player needs.
With the clock winding down on Marleau’s career, expect him to work harder than ever to maintain a strong veteran presence and strive for the ultimate goal: to bring the Stanley Cup to San Jose.