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Leading By Example

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
San Jose Sharks captain Patrick Marleau has slowly matured into face of the franchise in San Jose, and while he kindly appreciates such a nice compliment, it’s something he never considered before. 
Marleau during pre-game warm-ups“You really don’t think about something like that when you first start out, and things just happen so quickly,” the modest Captain said. “The biggest reward for me is being able to play with all these great guys.”
Marleau has grown up in San Jose, both as a player and a man, since entering the league as the NHL’s youngest player in his rookie season of 1997-98. Marleau was selected by San Jose with the second overall selection in the 1997 Entry Draft right after now-teammate Joe Thornton.
“My fondest memory thus far is reaching the Western Conference finals in 2003-04, it was a great time for everyone,” Marleau said. “But with this team, there are bigger things on the horizon.
If it seems Marleau is more consumed with the team efforts than he is his own efforts, it is because he genuinely puts the team first, even as he approaches breaking several franchise records for longevity and offensive prowess.
He recently took sole possession of first place on the all times games played list, passing Mike Rathje’s record 671 games on Dec. 12 at Los Angeles.  He is on the doorstep of tying Owen Nolan’s top marks in goals (needs five), assists (needs one) and points (needs six) and will soon own those records as well.
“As I look up at all these pictures on the wall, I just appreciate playing with all the guys,” he adds while glancing around the Sharks locker room adorned with photos of players past and present.
His line, featuring Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek, has been going strong all season. It is arguably the fastest, biggest and most skilled trio in the NHL.
“With Bernier and Milan, they really keep getting better and better, and I’ve been able to benefit from them getting better, and try to help them be successful,” he added.
Patty in his tux at the 2006 NHL Awards CeremonyMarleua’s teammates feel the same way about him. 
When asked about Marleau’s leadership role in the organization, Bernier had nothing but praise.
“It’s very easy to talk about Patty, he’s one of the best players in the NHL…both on and off the ice. He wants to make those around him better players, that’s what makes him such a great Captain.”
When asked about how Marleau has changed as a person and player over the last ten years, Marleau jokingly responded “by about twenty or thirty pounds.”
“It would be gaining more experience with each season, and just trying to be a better professional,” he added on a serious note.
While no one can predict the future, Marleau is keen on seeing what it brings.
“San Jose has developed into a great hockey town and from what I have seen, these fans are the best in the league.”
Sharks fans have appreciated his growth and look forward to his continued success on the ice as well.
The Ducks, who are ending a five-game road trip in San Jose on Saturday, arrived in town last night and practiced at HP Pavilion this morning, before the Sharks took the ice.
Almost to a man, the Ducks are proclaiming that they are winning despite playing their best hockey.  Sounds a bit like the sound bites coming out of San Jose’s dressing room as of late.
While the season still has a long way to go, Sharks Head Coach Ron Wilson is trying to instill the attitude of every game counts, not just the big ones against division rivals.
“You want to finish as high as you can in the standings, for obvious reasons come playoff time,” he said.  And to do that, you need to take care of business every game.”
All this week, KNBR 680 AM morning hosts Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey, were giving out their first annual “Murph and Mackie” awards.  Honors were handed out for items such as “Biggest Sports Moment” and “Top Morning Show Caller.”
The morning crew awarded “Top Sports Song Parody” this morning and the winner was…(cue drumroll) Jonathan Cheechoo and his late 2005-06 season goal scoring heroics inspiring “Fans Love You, Jon Cheechoo,” sung by McCaffery and the Random Collection of Molecules to the tune of “Suzy Q” by Credence Clearwater Revival. Click here to hear the winning song.
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the KNBR morning show and to receive this prestigious honor,” said a solemn Cheechoo after practice when informed of his good fortune. “I want to thank Murph and Mac, Dibs, Thin Tim and P-Con, as well as my coaches, teammates and of course Joe Thornton for great passes allowing me to score so many goals and provide the inspiration for this song.  This ranks right up there with winning the Maurice Rocket Richard trophy.”
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