For most of the past quarter century, Patrick
Marleau has held the unofficial title of Mr. Shark - the player most easily
identified with the San Jose Sharks franchise. We knew some day his long career
would finally come to an end, and that officially happened today.
Marleau's South Bay adventure began all the way back on Draft Day in 1997 when
he was just 17 years old and was selected second overall behind another future
Shark great, Joe Thornton. Now, Marleau is nearing 43 years of age. Never much
for controversy, Marleau just kept quiet and played and played. He tallied up
566 goals, placing him 23rd all time in the NHL, and 1,197 points, placing 50th
all time. But his games played total, 1,779 games, ranks him first overall.
This alone should secure him a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in the
not-too-distant future. Marleau's durability - he almost never got injured -
helped him achieve this milestone. (Oddly enough, Thornton is only about 65
games behind him.)
Aside from staying healthy and racking up points,
Marleau was known for his speed on skates. Off the ice, we Shark fans couldn't
have asked for a more cordial guy, with Marleau always being pleasant in
interactions with fans. And, while he was from Saskatchewan, he and his wife
and four sons mostly have called San Jose home the past two decades, except for
brief stops in Toronto and Pittsburgh. Marleau's number 12 is expected to be
the first number ever retired by the Sharks, as it should be.
course, the one glaring omission from Marleau's impressive hockey resume is a
Stanley Cup championship. This just never happened for him. But you know what?
About 3 percent of players win the Cup in any given year. In 1967, one out of
six teams won the Cup. Now, it's one out of 32 teams. Not very good odds.
A lot of it is about being in the right place at the
right time. (For reference, see: Pat Maroon, 274 points in 649 NHL, games,
three Stanley Cups in the past three seasons.) It's really not right to hold a
player accountable for a team accomplishment; Marleau certainly did everything
he could to make a championship happen. Unfortunately, it never did.
So, we salute Patrick Marleau and what he has meant to hockey in San Jose and
the Bay Area. All the best to him and his family in his future endeavors, be
that in San Jose or wherever.
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