The San Jose Sharks' game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night has attracted great attention as a battle between the top two teams in the Western Conference, but it also stands out for the organization's effort to contribute its resources in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.
Speaking as a guest on the NHL Hour With Gary Bettman on Thursday night, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said collections would be taken up at both the north and south entrances to HP Pavilion throughout the game. In addition, a charity auction will take place with proceeds going to the team's fund, and the players are planning an event for a March game involving their jerseys.
Even the team's Worcester affiliate in the American Hockey League is leading its own charge to raise funds behind the efforts of coach Roy Sommer.
"Our organization, our fans, our players are all committed to helping people that are in a terrible situation because of that tragedy," Wilson said.
A lot was made in some hockey circles about the Sharks' decision to strip Patrick Marleau of the captaincy during the offseason and give it to veteran defenseman Rob Blake.
Marleau has responded with what is shaping up to be the best season of his 12-year career, leading all NHL players with 35 goals. That has led to speculation that being captain was a bit too heavy a load on his shoulders.
Wilson offered a different viewpoint.
"I'll tell you, Patrick Marleau is a leader on this hockey team. He always has been and always will be," Wilson said. "You know, he had a great year last year. He had 38 goals, (71 points), and he got injured down the stretch and had to play the playoffs wearing a brace. And he never made any excuses or anything.
"When you make the change that we made this year -- and I sat Patty down and talked him through it, I asked him and said did I think it was the best thing for the team. In many ways I think it's a reflection of other guys on the team. And whether we have success or we have a bump in the road, we believe in collective responsibility.
"And Patty Marleau came back, ready to go, and has played his best hockey ever, and I think that tells you a lot about Patty Marleau -- not only his character, but the type of teammate he is, too."
Finally, Wilson addressed the upcoming Olympics, where the Sharks will be sending a plethora of players, including Marleau and other top stars Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle for Team Canada.
"I'm just real happy that our guys -- not just on the Canadian team but on that team in particular -- made it, because that might be the hardest hockey team in the last 20 years to make. And for Dany Heatley, Patty, Joe and Danny Boyle to make that team, we're proud of them as we are of Nabber (Evgeni Nabokov), Thomas Greiss, Joe Pavelski and Doug Murray. But I must admit, I'm a little biased. I'm cheering for Canada."