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Marleau loses his C
No successor named
8/17/09 - By Mike Lee -

In a move to spread more accountability across the roster, Sharks head coach Todd McLellan relieved Patrick Marleau of the team captaincy. David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News broke the story on Monday on his blog on Monday. Pollak posted comments from questions that he posed to McLellan, during a trip to the Sharks practice facility at Sharks Ice.

Marleau was given the responsibility by former head coach Ron Wilson back in 2004, in a move to empower the Sharks up and coming star. Marleau’s four-plus seasons in the role were marred with early playoff exits, progressing to the Conference Finals only once during that run.

In stripping Marleau of the C, the Sharks continue to focus on instilling a different attitude from the top down, but McLellan was cautious in his comments about the move.

“Does that fall onto one guy’s shoulder, the guy wearing the C? No. It’s a collective thing and it starts with me at a coach.”

The move is a sensitive one, because a hockey captaincy is something that most hockey players consider an actual honor. Unlike football, baseball or basketball, the role is typically bestowed on a worthy player with the expectations that they will lead their team.

Marleau’s mild-mannered personality often came across as passivity in a game where bone crunching hits and intensity are a given. Successful teams don’t need raving intensity freaks flying off the handle and laying checks, but having a soft-spoken leader hasn’t worked for the Sharks.

Proponents of Marleau’s can point to former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman as proof that an even keeled leader can successful. The difference between the two however, is that Yzerman consistently delivered on the ice. Rumors of a Marleau trade swirled three season ago, until the Shark centerman turned in a gritty performance against the Dallas Stars in the 2008 Western Conference semi-finals.

Rather than using that series as a spring board, Marleau went into a shell once again last spring when the Anaheim Ducks bounced the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs.

The one captainly thing Marleau did do this year, is tell the Sharks that he would relinquish the role if it would help the Sharks get to the next step. San Jose’s brass took him up on the offer and made it public on Monday.

Now Marleau gets to focus on putting the puck in the net and setting up his linemates to do the same. For all the criticisms, Marleau had a great regular season. He disappeared in the Sharks short playoff run, but then again, who didn’t. Marleau was playing with a bum knee, but his 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in 6 games just didn’t cut, captain or otherwise.

So now, Marleau gets to see what he can do without the undo burden of being the team spokesman and leader. That responsibility will almost certainly fall on Dan Boyle’s shoulders.

Now Marleau gets to put his game together, and ready himself for a push to make the playoffs, and hopefully help push the Sharks over the Stanley Cup hump. Hopefully the rest of the organization sees the move as a statement that San Jose will do whatever it takes to get over that hump.


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