Yet, many might have guessed the 2009-10 season would be a difficult one for Marleau. The team went in another direction with the captaincy he had held since 2003-04. On top of that, his name was frequently and falsely included in numerous trade rumors. Fans and the hockey media blamed Marleau for San Jose’s quick exit in last year’s playoffs, even though he scored both game-winning goals in the series vs. Anaheim.
Some would’ve buckled under the pressure. Not Marleau. After 12 games this year, he’s fifth in the NHL in scoring with 12 points and tied for third in goals (nine). Last year, Marleau had Joe Thornton
on his line. Not so this year.
“He can really do it all,” Dany Heatley said. “On the ice, (his play) speaks for itself.”
For Marleau, at least externally, he simply refuses to let things he can’t control affect him. Much of that simply comes from the fact that no matter what’s going on, Marleau continues to always do what’s in the best interest of the team. In essence, he might be the ultimate teammate.
“He’s a great teammate,” Dan Boyle
said. “On the ice, he works hard and off the ice he’s a genuinely nice guy.”
“You can’t go into our room and find anyone with a negative attitude toward Patty,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “He puts himself out there with his teammates. Those inside the room probably see a different Patty than those outside the room.”
Thornton roomed with Marleau on the road for most of his time with San Jose and may know Marleau as well as anyone.
“Patty is a dream teammate,” Thornton said. “He works hard every day whether it’s summer or winter and he’s just an all-around superb guy.”
Marleau may not be the screaming, vocal leader some envision fits an NHL locker room, but sometimes that doesn’t make for the best teammate.
“You can talk honestly with him about anything,” Thornton said. “He ‘ the complete teammate. He just wants to win and he’ll do anything to win.”
In the room, regardless of whether he has a “C” or an “A” on his sweater, Marleau continues to do the things he’s good at.
“He’s one of our leaders,” said Boyle of Marleau’s “do what’s best for the team” attitude.
Whether it’s changing lines, switching positions, or playing more time for a stretch on the penalty kill than the power play, Marleau does what’s necessary.
“He’s not a bold speaker and he doesn’t display a lot of emotion, but his actions do most of his talking for him, McLellan said. “Patty is respectful of our decisions as a staff because he’s confident, whether it’s playing center or left wing or being in a checking role or an offensive role. That’s how he is wired. He’s a go-to player and the more of them you have on your team, the better chance you have of winning. You feel really confident calling his number.”
Going around the room, everyone had nothing but positives to say about the Sharks most tenured player.
Marleau’s nature is to simply help out where he can and he almost has a “play it forward” outlook. As a rookie, he lived rent free with former Sharks goaltender Kelly Hrudey. So, he returned the favor by doing the same for Steve Bernier, who’s now with Vancouver. However, there’s one reason the pattern hasn’t continued.
“I figured people wouldn’t want to stick around when we started having babies,” Marleau said about his family, which now includes two children.
Heatley learned early how accommodating Marleau can be. The two have known each other previously through international competitions, but now Heatley really knows about Marleau’s generosity.
“When I first got here, he said, ‘Here’s my car,’” Heatley said. “Even now, it’s been a month and he’s still offering help. He’s a great person and easy to get along with.”
Any player in the NHL could simply rent a vehicle. But whether you’re a hockey player or not, it’s much easier if a friend simply drops one off for you.
“I think the main thing is you put yourself in the other person’s situation and think what you would like,” Marleau said.
A big part of his attitude in helping others out happens simply because of how Marleau’s parents raised him.
“My dad, mom, brother and sister put in long hours on the farm. They instilled their values to help out others,” Marleau said. “It’s big on the farm to do what you can to help. Our neighbors will help feed the cattle if my parents are gone and vice versa. This last harvest, Dad got his work done and another farmer wasn’t finished, so Dad helped him. Everyone helps each other.”
Marleau will continue to help the Sharks in whatever manner deemed necessary and that makes him one of the NHL’s top teammates.
In the Sharks last game at Philadelphia, 2007 first round pick Logan Couture
made his NHL debut
“We played the night before and I scored the winning goal in overtime,” Couture, who has been at Worcester, said. “I was getting ready to leave and (Vice President and Assistant General Manager) Wayne Thomas said to wait.”
From that point until he completed his debut, Couture was in heaven.
“I had a big smile on my face that didn’t come off until the puck was dropped,” Couture said. “It was awesome. Everything was just a blur.”
Couture’s parents were visiting friends in Michigan and attending the Michigan State football game when their son notified them.
“They got on a flight from Michigan to Philly and were there for the game,” Couture said.
Couture now hopes to make his HP Pavilion debut Wednesday night against Los Angeles.
“There’s a good chance they (Couture and forward Jamie McGinn) will play,” McLellan said.
McLellan excused a few players from practice on Tuesday: Devin Setoguchi, Ryan Vesce and Brad Staubitz.
“Seto (lower body) is doubtful and Vesce (lower body) is questionable for L.A.,” McLellan said. “(Staubitz) should be good for tomorrow.”
On another note, Torrey Mitchell
and Joe Pavelski
skated in a full practice with their teammates.
“It’s exciting to see them and they’re excited to be out there,” McLellan said. “It’s probably a little too early to definitively (target their return).”
Operation: Care and Comfort provides support to deployed U.S. military service members, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and conflict regions, by sending care packages containing needed items. OCC ships to these adopted units on a monthly basis until they return home.
You can help by donating items at the Sharks vs. Colorado game on Oct. 30 at the North or South entrances of HP Pavilion. The most needed items are beef jerky, trail mix, canned or packaged nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, instant soup/noodles, toothbrushes, AT&T phone cards, DVDs and music CDs.
For a complete list of items and for more information on the all-volunteer driven Operation: Care and Comfort program, visit www.operationcareandcomfort.org. Monetary donations, to help pay shipping costs, will also be collected.
Can't make the game? Donate your tickets to an active service member by contacting Julie DeMaria at 408-373-8635 or email the tickets to Julie at email@example.com. All donations are tax deductible.
The Sharks will play hosts to Los Angeles on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and the contest will be available on CSN California, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets can still be found at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office and at www.ticketmaster.com.