has been the Sharks captain for more than three years now, but he continues doing the little things that remind the Sharks family why he is so perfect for the role.
On the ice, he is tied with Joe Thornton
atop the Sharks scoring list with 27 points in 25 games and leads all Sharks players in goals with 13. His 14 helpers trail only Thornton on the club and the man who many consider the fastest skater in the League is tied for first in the NHL with four game-winning goals.
Off the ice, most know of how he has taken his normal linemates, Steve Bernier and Milan Michalek, under his wing, directing them through the rigors of their rookie seasons last year and literally bringing Bernier under his roof to live.
“What he did for Bernier was huge, both on and off the ice,” said Sharks Assistant Coach Rob Zettler.
For the past three contests, Marleau is doing yet one more of the “small” items that makes him such a strong leader. With injuries up front to Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo, the Sharks recalled rookie center Joe Pavelski
Marleau’s work with Michalek and Bernier made him a natural to play with the young centerman, who happens to be from same 2003 draft class that brought the Sharks Michalek and Bernier, in addition to Matt Carle.
The problem was Pavelski was, he had played center his entire life. Pavelski won a NCAA Division I National Championship with Wisconsin in 2006 and began his professional career in Worcester playing as a center. Asking a player to jump into the NHL and adjust to a new position might have been a bit much.
So the Sharks coaching staff simply went to their captain and asked him to be the one who adjusted.
“He simply said O.K.,” said Zettler. “He will always do what’s best for the team.”
And there were no worries about Marleau being able to transition to the wing.
“Patty has the strength and speed to do a good job with it,” said Zettler. “He has played the wing before.”
From an outsider looking in, it might seem crazy to ask a member of Canada’s World Cup team and the team’s captain and leading scorer (of what currently rates a the NHL’s third best team point wise) to be the one to make the move. But not to those who know Marleau.
“Patty has done a great job with the ‘C’ here,” said Zettler. “He shows great qualities as a leader.”
While not extremely vocal, the Aneroid, Sask. native carries a quiet confidence and will always do what is best for the club and Pavelski, who Marleau helped set up for his first goal in his first NHL game, is quickly coming to realize the importance of a player like Marleau.
“There is already a mutual respect between them and everyone benefits from that,” said Zettler. “Pavelski knows what’s going on and how Patty’s helping him. Patty knows what the young guys need to do and what to expect from them. He knows if they are successful, the team will be more successful.”
Sharks fan may want to pick it up when it comes to All-Star voting. Center Joe Thornton
has slipped to fourth in voting among Western Conference forwards, behind Dallas’ Brendan Morrow. Vote today for Thornton, Marleau, Jonathan Cheechoo and Scott Hannan, or to write in others such as Matt Carle and Milan Michalek.
VLASIC LEADING ROOKIES
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
has averaged 20:54 of ice time per game this season, the top figure among rookie skaters. Four other rookies are averaging at least 20 minutes of ice time per game: Toronto's Ian White (20:32), Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin (20:10), New Jersey's Johnny Oduya (20:04) and Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar (20:01).
Today at 5 p.m. the Sharks faceoff with the Minnesota Wild and the contest will be aired on VERSUS, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.