They’ve high-sticked my heart…

Ugh, some days I wish I followed a sport other than hockey. Take today, for instance.

Patrick Marleau was just dispatched to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline. Marleau’s return to the San Jose Sharks was one of the few comforts fans could take in a bafflingly torturous season, so this development seems especially cruel. (Yes, of course I’m sorry to see Barclay Goodrow go, too. Nevertheless, I think even Goodrow would understand that it’s not quite the same.)

Bear in mind, I’d already spent most of the day trying to comprehend this news item. All I will say is: Miracle on Ice guys, what the hell?

Perhaps I will feel more eloquent regarding these subjects at another time (probably not). Hope your day is better…

At last, a teal lining!

I present you all with cause for celebration. Sure, the nightly news still has me wringing my hands. Writing deadlines loom before me, and a threatened Northern California power outage has me typing frantically. Yet tonight, I cheer. Why?

Patrick Marleau is a San Jose Shark again.

Of course, to most devotees of Team Teal, he never stopped being one. Nevertheless, if my mom’s tears and hugs following the announcement were any indication, this is a happy development indeed. Welcome back, Patty!

 

1,000 career assists for Joe Thornton!

Patrick Marleau’s career milestones have been a frequent topic on this blog. His equally accomplished San Jose Sharks teammate Joe Thornton was not to be outdone last night. In a 3-2 Sharks victory over the Winnipeg Jets, Thornton assisted on Joe Pavelski’s game-winning empty-net goal. Thus, he became only the 13th player (over 100 years of NHL history) to notch 1,000 assists in his career. (Yet, somehow, the NHL didn’t see fit to place Thornton or Marleau on the list of 100 all-time NHL greats announced earlier this year. Don’t get me started…)

An Ageless Wonder Has A Night For The Ages

Conventional wisdom says that the NHL is a league suited for rookies, and that a nineteen-year veteran’s best days on the ice are likely behind him. (Obviously, these naysayers never heard of Gordie Howe, but that’s another post entirely.) It’s true that 37-year-old Patrick Marleau has racked up many career milestones, including two Olympic gold medals for Team Canada. Nevertheless, in the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche last night, Marleau had the best offensive performance of his career thus far. He became the oldest NHL player to score four goals in a single period, and only the 12th to do so in NHL history. Consider that he scored on each shot he took in the third, and the achievement is even more impressive:

After scoring a natural hat trick (plus one) the night before, Marleau managed to net the game-winning goal against the Winnipeg Jets tonight. With two more tallies, he’ll reach 500 goals in his career. Of course, Patty took it all in stride:

[Update on 2/2/17: Patrick Marleau scored his 500th goal tonight in Vancouver!]

San Jose Sharks 2016 Holiday Video

On Friday the San Jose Sharks debuted a Secret Santa-themed homage to The Office, the latest in their long-running series of annual holiday videos. While I was fairly surprised that avowed Office buffs Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau don’t appear in this one, the concept works pretty well. (Appropriately, the chosen Sharks play the material much straighter than in previous years. Forward Chris Tierney and goalie Martin Jones are particularly deadpan.) Just when you think “Hmm, this is starting to drag,” Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels bring it home with…well, just watch. Happy holidays, everybody!

 

Joe Thornton reaches 1,300 NHL career points!

In the San Jose Sharks’ 6-1 victory over the (somewhat flu-decimated) Colorado Avalanche on Monday night, Joe Thornton picked up two assists. As a result, he became the 33rd player in NHL history to reach 1,300 career points (367 goals and 933 assists, for those of you who are keeping score). It’s great to see Thornton (and Patrick Marleau) going strong in the later stages of their careers, at a crucial time for the Sharks. Of course, Thornton seemed to take it all in stride:

San Jose Sharks 2015 Holiday Video Series

Since the San Jose Sharks set the bar high with last year’s holiday video, I awaited this year’s model with interest. I admit that I was skeptical about the Behind The Music homage and mock-documentary format, but the end result works beautifully thanks to the Sharks’ deadpan delivery. (I especially enjoy Nabokov’s Stanislavski reference, broadcaster Randy Hahn’s hip-hop persona, and the revelation that Patrick Marleau attended Canadian Juilliard.) The self-referential approach may confuse newcomers at first, but all will be revealed. (Trust me, it’s worth it.) Well done, guys! (Also, please heal quickly over the holidays. Thank you.)

All hail Patrick Marleau, the 1,000-point wonder!

During the San Jose Sharks’ game against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, Patrick Marleau scored his 1,000th NHL career point. (It was a secondary assist on Brent Burns’ first goal of the game.) By doing so, Marleau became only the fifth active NHL player to achieve that feat, and the 83rd player in NHL history. I could mention his two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, his World Championship and World Cup of Hockey gold medals, or the various franchise records he holds for the Sharks. The following clip reel, however, is much more fun:

I’m especially proud that, since Marleau was drafted #2 overall in 1997, all of his 1,348 career games have been with the Sharks. His speed, versatility, and quietly effective leadership qualities embody all the best aspects of the San Jose Sharks, to me and to countless hockey fans. Congratulations!

(Okay, technically, he’s the 1,001-point wonder. After all, Marleau did get another assist last night.)

 

Congratulations, Captain Joe Pavelski!

Today, Joe Pavelski was named the ninth full-time captain in the history of the San Jose Sharks. (He’s also the first Sharks captain born in the United States.) Many fans have considered him to be the obvious choice for a while, and I’m very happy to see it happen. A few stick taps are also in order for Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, who were named alternate captains. (I admit I was a little surprised that Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn’t get named as an alternate. By the way, I thought that Thornton and Patrick Marleau were both excellent team captains during their tenures.)

It’s a shame that no one will bother to change Joe Pavelski’s department rank in this clever (if rather dark) Sharks commercial from 2009:

Thoughts and theories on the 2014-15 San Jose Sharks’ season

When the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Minnesota Wild on Monday night, the San Jose Sharks were mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup playoff contention. This breaks their ten-season streak of consecutive playoff appearances, second only to the Detroit Red Wings in the current era. The sports and Bay Area media don’t cut the Sharks much slack in the best of times, and there certainly will be a painful offseason ahead. My own feelings on the season are fairly complex, and I feel compelled to discuss them.

I became a Sharks fan in January 2004, right before their unexpected run to the Western Conference playoff finals. So, I’ve never known a time where the team didn’t make the postseason before now (though I have witnessed several close calls). I missed the truly dismal years the Sharks suffered early on, and the by-all-accounts disastrous 2002-03 season that preceded their lengthy playoff streak. In spite of all the griping Sharks fans tend to do about the lack of a Stanley Cup, we’ve been lucky, even blessed. In the more physical conference of a grueling league, consistently contending is an accomplishment in itself. While the Los Angeles Kings do indeed have two Cups while we have none, people forget that for several years the Sharks were in the postseason when the Kings were hoping for top draft picks. (Postseason appearances in turn exclude teams from top draft picks, which make it harder to find that game-changing franchise phenom. The Sharks have drafted well in the later rounds over the years, and there’s no way to know for sure if a few top-five picks would have pushed us over the playoff hump. But, the cellar-dwelling teams have been drooling over prospects Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel all year for a reason.)

I’m not a Pollyanna by any means. I truly believe that the Sharks would be in the playoffs this year if Doug Wilson had added a top-tier defenseman to the roster over the summer. I know that a top d-man is hard to come by, and there’s no way anyone could have predicted the injuries to the likes of Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun this year. On the other hand, the loss of Vlasic to a Jarrett Stoll head shot in the 2014 Sharks-Kings playoff series was likely the major reversal of fortune that led to the Sharks’ historic series loss. I still don’t understand why management opted to sign multiple enforcers to the roster when there was ample salary cap to add a defenseman. Brent Burns could have stayed at the forward position, where he’d flourished in 2013-14. More importantly, there would have been more coverage for the younger players on the team, who naturally tend to struggle a bit with the faster NHL game. I was as baffled and frustrated as anyone by Wilson’s remarks last summer that the Sharks were a “tomorrow team.” (It could be argued that we came closer than anyone to beating the eventual Cup champions, and when I wrote Sharks COO John Tortora to protest the addition of ice girls last summer, I proclaimed that a rebuild was totally unnecessary.) Even so, I would hope that former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Wilson didn’t intend to hang his players out to dry.

A lot of good things did happen this year, in spite of the way things shook out in the end. Rookies Melker Karlsson, Barclay Goodrow,  and Chris Tierney made impressive contributions, and young Taylor Fedun was a great end-of-year callup. Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto cemented their development as two-way forwards. Ben Smith fit in well in the system, and I hope to see what he can do with a full year in teal. Joe Pavelski’s scoring touch and leadership abilities continued to amaze, and Vlasic quietly made his case for most underrated defenseman in the league. Even though I prefer Burns as a forward, he still made it to the NHL All-Star Game as a defenseman. As for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they continued to reach league milestones. (I’ll say it now: Thornton and Marleau ABSOLUTELY belong on the 2015-16 Sharks roster, in major capacities. Marleau had an off year, you say? His off year would be a dream season for most.) I know there will be changes in the offseason, but I hope that there’s not a horrific roster dismantling to compound the iffy rebuild this year. Sharks players and fans deserve much better than that.

In the immortal words of the  Ken Stringfellow song, here’s to the future. Go Sharks.