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Marleau grateful for opportunity with Pens

The 40-year-old veteran legend is hoping to win his first Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh

by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Patrick Marleau has accomplished just about everything imaginable in his incredible NHL career. 

But the one item missing from his list is a Stanley Cup, and the 40-year-old veteran legend is hoping to win one in Pittsburgh after the Penguins acquired him from the San Jose Sharks - where he spent over 20 of his 22 NHL seasons - on Monday in exchange for a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick.

"He's very well respected around the league, and well respected by the Penguins players and coaches," Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. "He's accomplished almost everything in the game with the exception of the ultimate prize. Our hope is that he's going to help us achieve our common goal. We're thrilled to have Patrick."

And Marleau is thrilled to be here.

"It's just very exciting to be a part of it," Marleau said following his first team practice on Tuesday at Toyota Sports Performance Center. "I'm looking forward to playoffs and all of that. It's great to be part of the team. It's obviously a great team and a great opportunity for myself."

During the session, Marleau - who has 10 goals in 58 games so far this season - skated on the left wing of a line that had fellow new Penguin Evan Rodrigues at center and Dominik Simon on the right wing. 

Marleau also practiced on the second power-play unit with Justin Schultz, Juuso Riikola, Jason Zucker and Conor Sheary.

"I think just getting used to the guys right now," Marleau said of where his focus is. "Today's practice was a huge help in getting to learn the system and that. It'll be good to get going (Wednesday versus Los Angeles) for a game. I don't know how long it's going to take to be able to just go out there and shut the brain off and just play. I'm going to do my best to get used to the system and terminology."

When Marleau's new teammates initially heard about the trade, they almost couldn't believe that a player of his caliber would be joining their group. 

"It's exciting. He's a legend in this league," Penguins goalie Matt Murray said. "He's one of the top couple in games played all-time. I still have to pinch myself sometimes I get to be around some of these guys and some of these legends, and he's just another one I'm very lucky I get to share a dressing room with."

The first person to welcome Marleau after he arrived at the team hotel in California was Sidney Crosby, who has actually gotten to share a dressing room with him before - as they won two gold medals with Team Canada at the 2010 and '14 Olympics. 

"He's obviously got a ton of experience," Crosby said. "He played a lot of games, a lot of big games over his career. He's still a great skater. With the way we play, I think he'll really enjoy playing for us."

Crosby couldn't be more right, as Marleau is looking forward to playing alongside him, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang after going up against them for so many years - most notably in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, the first of back-to-back championships for the Penguins. He told Letang as much when he ran into him on the way to his hotel room.

"It's going to be great seeing them in the same colors, that's for sure," Marleau said with a laugh. "Those guys are amazing and it's going to be great to be on the same side as them. It seems like a great group of guys, great dressing room. Just looking forward to getting to know them better."

What makes it even more exciting for Marleau to be in these colors is that he was a Penguins fan as a kid growing up in Aneroid, Saskatchewan.

"I was just a big Mario (Lemieux) fan and a big Penguins fan," Marleau said. "They were winning Cups back then, and hopefully we can win one this year."

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